Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory

Science Updates


Venus is covered in a thick layer of clouds, one reason that it appears so bright in the sky. Ancient astronomers had a good idea of what (since Copernicus) we know as its orbital period; the modern measurement is that Venus takes 224.65 days to complete one revolution around the Sun, a Venusian year.


Most galaxies host a supermassive black hole (SMBH) at their nucleus, one whose mass exceeds a million solar-masses. When material actively accretes onto the SMBH, associated processes can produce an active galactic nucleus (AGN) with a hot torus and dramatic bipolar jets of rapidly moving charged particles.

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.