Central Bureau for Astronomical Telegrams
The Central Bureau for Astronomical Telegrams (CBAT),
founded in Europe as a result of the sungrazing comet of 1882
to announce new astronomical discoveries, is a nonprofit organization
located on the Harvard University campus since 1966.
Principal funding comes from subscriptions to
the various services offered by the Bureau, and (during 2008-2010) also
from the U.S. National Science Foundation, but donations are
encouraged. The Central Bureau has
operated for more than a decade on computers generously provided
by the Tamkin
Foundation, first in collaboration with the Minor Planet
Center at SAO and now also on new computers at EPS/Harvard.
The CBAT is responsible for the dissemination of information on transient
astronomical events and various IAU news including the announcement
of designations and names of various celestial objects -- via the
Circulars (IAUCs), a series of
printed-postcard-sized announcements issued at irregular intervals as necessary
in both printed and electronic form, and
(as of 2002 Dec. 20)
also via the electronic-only Central Bureau Electronic Telegrams (CBETs).
The CBAT has been at times the official worldwide clearinghouse for new discoveries of
comets, solar-system satellites, novae, supernovae, and other transient
During 1965-2010, the CBAT operated
at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (specifically under
the SAO umbrella).
During 2010, the CBAT and its Director have moved to the Department
of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Harvard University, and the
computer infrastructure is gradually being moved from SAO to EPS.
The CBAT operated under the auspices of Commission
6 of the International Astronomical
Union (IAU) from soon after the IAU's creation in the early 1920s until 2015,
when the Commissions were disbanded.
Special Note: The Central Bureau was moved over from the
SAO computers to new computers at Harvard/EPS on 2010 August 30.
As well over 20,000 webpages are involved in the transfer, there
are many broken links that did not survive an automatic conversion
of internal URLs, and we are working hard to fix those links.
The vast majority of pages should be working now. If you find a
broken link to a page that you need access to, drop us an e-mail
Services of the CBAT
Information for CBAT contributors
History of the CBAT
The first Central Bureau was formally created
in the 1880s in Kiel, Germany, remaining there until World War I when
it was moved to Copenhagen Observatory (Denmark), where it essentially
remained until the end of 1964 (except for a brief period at Uccle
in 1920-1922); the IAU (formed in 1919) adopted the Copenhagen
Observatory's Central Bureau as its official Bureau Central des
Télégrammes Astronomiques in 1922. On 1965 Jan. 1,
the CBAT moved from Copenhagen to Cambridge,
Massachusetts, where the Harvard College Observatory had been acting
as the western hemisphere's astronomy information center also since 1883.
More in-depth CBAT history is provided on a separate webpage.
Other Helpful Information
- Astronomical headlines from recent circulars.
- Index to the CBAT/MPC/ICQ pages.
- The Edgar Wilson Award,
an award for amateur comet discoverers.
- Ephemerides and orbital elements
for comets, NEOs, distant objects and bright minor planets.
- Various lists and plots.
- Press Information Sheets
- List of new features on these pages.
- Links to other IAU-related sites are now accessible from the
- Notices concerning
power outages and downtimes for the CBAT/MPC computers (meaning web
and e-mail-access downtime).
- ALERT! We have introduced additional screening software to
block spam e-mail, due to its prolific increase; it is strongly recommended
that those sending e-mail to the CBAT (or ICQ or MPC) remove ALL html-encoded
text, as we cannot read such text easily (we do not use web browsers for
reading e-mail) and such text may be deleted by our anti-spam software. (This
means: send plain ASCII text *only*, *not* plain ASCII text plus html-encoded
text in same message. The vast majority of CBAT contributors have no problem
sending ASCII-only e-mail with contributed observations, so HTML-encoding is
a natural place to attack SPAM e-mail since the vast majority of SPAM has
- Credits (and awards) and a