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Computer Services

Creating Your CfA Account

Computer accounts require a Staff Database Form. Contact your Division Administrator (or designee) to provide this information. You will also need to sign the SD931 Agreement. As a result, your name will be included in the CfA Telephone Directory and a mail user name will be set up for you on the CfA gateway.

Closing your Account

Account Closing Policy

Resources for Computing

The CfA Computation Facility (CF) 
The CfA Computation Facility Reference


CF Services Guide: Printing overview

Email Accounts

The CF maintains a central mail exchanger with accounts for CfA staff and others (e.g. ongoing collaborators, etc.). Instructions for pop/imap client are maintained by the CF as well. Information on most operating systems and the policy for CF email users mail clients are available.

Postdoc/Predoc Mailing List

Both a postdoc and a predoc mailing list were set up in order to provide a convenient way of discussing postdoc- and predoc-related issues, events, questions, and problems. Fellowship recipients are automatically enrolled on a list based on their fellowship status or classification. The following instructions should assist their with their use.

To post to a list, email your message to the sao-postdocs and sao-predocs list at sao-postdocs@cfa or sao-predocs@cfa

To post to all Smithsonian lists, email your message to all-sao-fellows@cfa

To post to both Harvard and Smithsonian postdoc lists, email your message to the all-postdocs list at all-postdocs@cfa

To post to both Harvard and Smithsonian predoc lists, email your message to the all-predocs list at all-predocs@cfa

Wireless Network

CfA has a wireless network. To use it, you will need the latest version of Cisco VPN client (also available at this site is information on configuration and passwords). More help can be found at Wireless LAN and at CF Services Guide: Wireless LAN: Configuring Mac OSX.

ID Cards

To gain access after hours to both the Observatory and the CfA Library (located off the main entrance at 60 Garden Street) and to most other SAO and Harvard facilities, you will need either an SAO or Harvard photo ID card.

Both SAO and Harvard IDs are printed by the Harvard ID office (HUID). Images are captured at Harvard Campus Service Center, 1350 Massachusetts Avenue,  in Harvard Square. More information can be found here.

Telephone Assignment

A telephone number will be assigned when you arrive. A voice-mail box or system can be set up on your line, provided funds are available to cover the cost and approval is obtained by your Host or Advisor. For internal CfA or Harvard calls, only use the last 5 digits (e.g., if 617-495-7280, dial 5-7280). Contact your Division Administrator for information on long-distance calling. For other useful phone information, please consult the CfA phone book. For voice-mail, long-distance code, or any phone questions, please check with your Division Administrator (or designee).

Other links to telephone services can be found at the following:

Library Privileges

The John G. Wolbach Library and Information Resources Center is located at the CfA. If you are going to be using the Library, it is strongly recommended that you contact the staff (6-5769 or library@cfa) to arrange for an introduction to library resources and services. All members of the CfA community have access to Harvard University Libraries as well.

The Library offers an increasing array of proprietary resources, which are copyright-protected, have strict license agreements, and are expensive. Before researchers use them, understanding the restrictions on use is important. This is best done in person and the earlier in the patron's experience with the Library the better. Also, using these resources is not necessarily intuitive and the Library staff is very willing to provide "tutorials" on how to access an online journal.

Therefore, please contact the Wolbach Library for an introduction, to request night and weekend Library access, and for any questions that you may have. Instructions on obtaining a PIN can be found here. You must a PIN to access restricted electronic resources.

Information on how to use the Astrophysics Data System with the Library proxy, is available here. You will be prompted to enter your Harvard/SAO ID number and Harvard-issued PIN, which will allow you to access restricted electronic journals to which the Wolbach Library or other Harvard Libraries have subscribed.


Parking on the Observatory campus is permitted through an annual membership or via the purchase of daily parking permits (see below). However, due to shortage of parking space and high demand, the waiting period can vary. Therefore, taking public transportation or walking to work is highly recommended. See the MBTA website for public transit options, and the public transit section below for more information on purchasing MBTA passes.

Cambridge Residents: If you are a Cambridge resident, you can apply for a resident street permit. A year-long permit will cost approximately $25 and allows parking anywhere in Cambridge, so you can park on side streets near the Observatory (but watch out for street-cleaning days, towing is a serious and lucrative business!).

NonCambridge Residents: To apply for an Observatory parking permit, you must get on the waiting list by filling out an application form. More information can be found on the following website.

Daily parking permits may be purchased online now by credit card (full day permits, not 2 or 4 hour permits). One day permits may be obtained online with a credit card. Please click here and follow the instructions given.

Social Events

There are many people here at CfA and sometimes it is all a little overwhelming to try to meet people. The easiest way is to have informal chats during a coffee or other events. Here is a list of a few of the informal events that happen throughout CfA. If you know of more please email so we can add it to the list. Note: In-person activities are suspended until the Observatory reopens in the future to fellows and interns.

CfA Football (Soccer) Games

Every Wednesday at 5pm.
The purpose is to have fun, so skills are not important. Click on the following website to sign up for emails: Weekday Soccer. If you have questions, contact: Benedikt Diemer

SSP Coffee

Every weekday morning 10:30am.
3rd Floor Perkin Bridge
$1 weekly donation gets you coffee, snacks, and conversation.

Wine Tastings

Fridays around 4:30pm.
Dave Latham sponsors these for the wine lover and novice alike. 
To get on the list email
Get a sampling of about 7 wines, assorted cheese, and fine conversation.

Weekly Colloquium Tea

Thursdays at 3:30 pm in Phillips Auditorium.
Informal tea that welcomes everyone at the CfA prior to the weekly colloquium.