Central Bureau for Astronomical Telegrams

Central Bureau for Astronomical Telegrams -- Image credits

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 IAU 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 astronomical events. 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 was 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 (cbatiau@eps.harvard.edu). Note that there may still be some .cfa.harvard.edu URLs in these webpages; if you find any, they need to be changed to .eps.harvard.edu.

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 International Astronomical Union's website.
  • 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 html-encoding.)

  • Credits (and awards) and a user-feedback form.

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