The Minor Planet Center (MPC) operates at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO), under the auspices of Division F (formerly Division III) 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, in conjunction with the Central Bureau for Astronomical Telegrams (CBAT); and natural satellites (also in conjunction with CBAT). 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 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.
- 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.
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.