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The Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian is a collaboration between Harvard and Smithsonian designed to ask — and ultimately answer — humanity’s greatest unresolved questions about the nature of the universe.

Founded in 1973, the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian is an ongoing collaboration between the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and Harvard College Observatory designed to foster innovation and propel discovery.

Our mission is to advance knowledge of the Universe through research in astronomy and astrophysics and in related areas of fundamental physics and geophysics.

We aim to accomplish this mission through adherence to the following values:

  • Preeminence: Scientists, engineers, researchers, fellows, and students who collaborate with the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian are talented, accomplished leaders and experts in their fields, cultivating an atmosphere of continued excellence in pursuit of knowledge.

  • Intellectual Freedom: Scientists, engineers, researchers, fellows, and students who collaborate with the CfA | Harvard & Smithsonian have the ability to pursue and explore avenues of pure research across a breadth of scientific inquiry that’s unavailable elsewhere.

  • Education: The CfA is a scholarly and academic launchpad for careers in the global astrophysics community, a springboard for generations of future explorers and scientists, and a repository for the basic human wonder that is the first spark of discoveries large and small.

  • Shared Discovery: The CfA is an eager collaborator in the global astrophysics community, giving freely of data and discovery, and dedicated to serving the broader scientific mission of advancing humanity’s knowledge of the universe irrespective of institutional allegiance, political borders, or other qualifications.

  • Scientific Breadth: At the CfA, scientists in a broad range of disciplines study the universe at every scale, from every wavelength, and using telescopes and instruments that span and orbit the globe, all with a single purpose: making groundbreaking discoveries that advance human knowledge.


Scientists, Researchers and Support Staff Across a Wide Range of Fields
Combined Years of History Between Harvard & Smithsonian
Estimated Percentage of the U.S. Astrophysics Community Educated at CfA

The CfA today includes over 850 collaborators and support staff pursuing a staggering array of scientific inquiry, draws on over 300 combined years of tradition in institutional support for groundbreaking discoveries, and earns support from a variety of sources, including Federal appropriations, University funds, contracts and grants from government agencies, and donations from curious individuals like you.

Please continue to explore the CfA, including the Big Questions we’ve dedicated ourselves to answering, and consider lending your support for the next great leap forward in humanity’s understanding of the universe.