The Minor Planet Center (MPC) operates at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO), under the auspices of Division F (formerly Division III and, before that, Commission 20) of the International Astronomical Union (IAU). The Minor Planet Center derives its operating budget from a five-year NASA grant.
The MPC is responsible for the designation of minor bodies in the solar system: minor planets; comets; and natural satellites. The MPC is also responsible for the efficient collection, computation, checking and dissemination of astrometric observations and orbits for minor planets and comets, via its various journals:
- Minor Planet Circulars (issued generally on a monthly basis)
- Minor Planet Circulars Orbit Supplement (MPO) (issued up to thirteen times per year)
- Minor Planet Circulars Supplement (MPS) (issued three or four times a month)
- Minor Planet Electronic Circulars (MPECs) (issued as necessary, generally at least once per day)
MPC Publications and Services
- Publications and services overview.
- How do I report material to the MPC?
Notes and technical details.
astrometric observations via a web form.
- Please note that you must include the AC2 keyword in the observational header if you wish to receive an ACK.
- Information of how to submit observation batches from the command line via cURL
- Information we need from observers in order to start using the new observation format.
- Submit astrometric observations via a web form.
- On-line MPECs.
- Web access to the computer services.
- Brief descriptions of and information on how to access the various Web-based services, including PDF versions of the MPCs, MPOs and MPSs.
- Support for computer equipment used by the MPC is provided by the Tamkin Foundation.
Services for Observers
- The NEO Confirmation Page
- Get NEO ratings for your observations.
- The NEO Page.
- Minor Planet & Comet Ephemeris Service
- Generate current ephemerides for an arbitrary list of (up to 100) minor planets and comets.
- Generate an HTML page that you can put on your own web site to encourage others to follow-up your discoveries.
- Natural Satellites Ephemeris
- Generate ephemerides for the outer irregular satellites of the giant planets.
- New Object Ephemeris Generator
- Generate ephemerides for "new" discoveries before assignment of official provisional designations.
- Identifying objects
- MPC Orbit Database (MPCORB)
- Download the freely-accessible MPC Orbit Database (MPCORB)
- The Distant Artificial Satellites
- Allows you to observe artificial objects that may (or have been) confused with natural objects.
- Guide to Minor Body Astrometry
- Notes for new or potential astrometric observers. [Updated 2014 Feb. 11]
- Dates of Last Observation of Distant
- An MPES-aware listing of the dates of last observation of Centaurs, TNOs and SDOs.
- Displays which parts of the sky have been searched recently.
- Add your own coverage information.
- The Observation Summary Pages are no longer available, since the
full MPC/MPO/MPS batches are freely available
- Preliminary version of Observer Summary pages (for checking purposes).
- Ephemerides and orbital elements for comets, NEOs, distant objects and bright minor planets.
- Prepare customized versions of the observable-object lists.
- Prepare mini normal places
from measurements obtained from GPS-tagged video fames.
- Updated guide to making observations from GPS-tagged video frames. [Added 2015 July 17]
Large Data SetsAccess the large observation and orbit data files generated by the MPC.
- MPCAT: Complete (and update) orbit files
- MPCAT-OBS: Observation files
- MPCUPDATE: Files associated with MPC batches
- MPCArchive: PDF versions of the MPC's various journals.
- Documentation about the various aspects of the MPC's operations.
Lists and plots
- All sorts of tabulations and plots, including NEO tables and lists of minor planet names.
- The Animations Page: A collection of various animations prepared at the MPC.
- List of new features on these pages. [Updated 2012 June 16]
- Details on stellar occultations by minor planets from IOTA.
- Minor Planet Lightcurve data [Updated 2006 Mar. 28] Updated files currently in preparation.