Welcome to the CfA

In the past decade, astronomers have identified more than one hundred planets orbiting stars other than the Sun and will soon have the tools to search for small, rocky, Earth-like planets. In the past five years, we have come to understand that the expansion of the Universe is accelerating owing to the presence of "dark energy" and we are on the cusp of technologies to explore this strange and elusive phenomenon. Astronomy is entering a golden age of discovery promising to stretch well into the 21st century.

Welcome to the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA). The CfA is the world's largest and most diverse center for the study of the Universe, comprising the astronomy and astrophysics programs of two renowned scientific institutions: the Smithsonian Institution and Harvard University. 2005 marks the 50th anniversary of Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory's move to Cambridge to affiliate with Harvard in the partnership that would, in 1973, be formalized as the Center for Astrophysics. We celebrate fifty years of dynamic, innovative research that has changed the way we think of the cosmos and of our place in it.

Our mission is to advance knowledge of the Universe through research in astronomy and astrophysics and in related areas of fundamental physics and geophysics. This mission includes service to the national and international astronomical communities, and to society in general, in areas associated with our primary research imperative.

Today the CfA comprises over 900 staff working in an environment that encourages creativity, innovation, and risk-taking. World-class scientists work with skilled engineers and brilliant theoreticians to design ground- breaking investigations using telescopes of unparalleled sensitivity and computers of unparalleled power. Competitive postdoctoral and predoctoral fellowships allow the world's best and brightest young scientists to be an integral part of our research community. Programs of public education and outreach bring the fruits of this research to the American and world public.

We are on the threshold of answering questions that have enticed us for centuries. Long experience tells us that these discoveries will in turn suggest new questions and result in as yet unimagined possibilities - the most powerful and astonishing triumphs inspire us at the same time as they reveal the vastness of what we do not yet know. We welcome your interest and participation in our journey of discovery.