Center for Astrophysics throws 50th anniversary celebration

CfA Director Lisa Kewley gives remarks at the 50th anniversary celebration. Photo by Bethany Versoy

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Hundreds gathered on an unusually warm fall day to celebrate the 50th year of the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian. The daylong event included guided tours of the CfA at 60 Garden St., and a celebratory lunch outside the Harvard Science Center.

One of the world’s largest astrophysical research organizations in the world with over 850 scientists, engineers and staff, the CfA was created in July 1973 by an agreement between the Harvard College Observatory and the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory. Since then, it has been at the center of some of the most important discoveries in astrophysics and is poised to lead into the 21st century.

The Sept. 8 celebration featured remarks by CfA Director Lisa Kewley; Faculty of Arts and Sciences Dean Hopi Hoekstra; and Monique Chism, Smithsonian’s Under Secretary for Education.

Kewley reflected on the early origins of the CfA, dating back to 1815. She went on to describe a long list of CfA scientific contributions through the present, from the operation of NASA’s Chandra X-Ray Observatory since 1999, to the CfA’s role in the historic achievement of the Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration’s direct imaging of a black hole in 2019. The celebration tent was lined with posters that detailed CfA achievements throughout the decades.

“I want you all to feel extremely proud to be at the CfA,” Kewley said. “It has a fabulous history, and a fabulous future.”