Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory

Science Updates


The Pleiades star cluster, a brilliant collection of several hundred stars visible in the winter sky near the constellation of Orion, has been admired by people for thousands of years; it is cited in the Bible and the works of Greek authors.


The Pipe Nebula is a prominent dark molecular cloud located about 430 light-years from us. It contains about ten thousand solar-masses of material, making it one of the closest giant molecular complexes to us, and with dimensions of about 10 by 46 light-years, one of the largest.

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.