Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory

Science Updates

11/08/2019

Near Earth Objects (NEOs) are small solar system bodies whose orbits sometimes bring them close to the Earth, making them potential collision threats. NEOs also offer clues to the composition, dynamics and environmental conditions of the early solar system and its evolution, and because they are relatively close to the Earth they lend themselves to astronomical measurements.

11/01/2019

The path of a light beam is bent by the presence of mass, and a massive body can therefore act like a lens (a "gravitational lens") to distort the image of an object seen behind it. Scientists first confirmed Einstein's prediction quantitatively during the now famous total eclipse of 29 May 1919 by observing starlight bent by the mass of the Sun.

The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO) is a "research institute" of the Smithsonian Institution. It is joined with the Harvard College Observatory (HCO) to form the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA). Because these research activities share Harvard and Smithsonian staff and resources, the links at this website will take you to information posted on the "CfA" pages.