Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory

The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO), founded in 1890, is a research center of the Smithsonian with the mission to advance our knowledge and understanding of the universe through research and education in astronomy and astrophysics. Affiliated with the Harvard College Observatory, SAO created the world’s first satellite-tracking network, establishing the organization as a pioneer in space science research. In 1973, the Smithsonian and Harvard created the joint Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian.

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MicroObservatory Robotic Telescope Network

The MicroObservatory Robotic Telescope Network is free and available to the public. The DIY Planet Search, and Observing with NASA portals allow visitors to explore the Universe by requesting their very own images of the night sky. Downloadable classroom activities and resources are available to support programming in museums.

Observing with NASA MicroObservatory Exhibit Kiosk

This traveling exhibit kiosk is currently under development and will soon be available to the Affiliates community. This kiosk will provide visitors with an opportunity to engage with authentic data tools and explore for themselves how NASA images are made. Applications to host a kiosk will be announced in the coming months, and will include an opportunity for mini-funds to support programming around astronomy kiosk content. Professional development will be provided for museum staff. Join a Virtual Resource Fair Zoom chat to learn more about this project!


YouthAstroNet is an online community of educators, youth, and scientists that aims to help youth gain confidence and identity as someone who can do science through personal participation in authentic inquiry through the use of the MicroObservatory robotic telescope network. Self-paced professional development, secure online community for learners, customizable curriculum, and more are all available through participation in this program.


AstroChats is a YouTube series of conversations with astronomers and other experts at the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian.

Ozone Bioindicator Garden Network

Join the Ozone Bioindicator Garden Network, and learn more about the TEMPO (Tropospheric Emissions: Monitoring of Pollution) instrument. Will you help us collect data?

Chandra X-ray Center

Operated for NASA by the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, the Chandra X-ray Center has some amazing, accessible resources featuring: