U.S. Naval Observatory (USNO)


FLC Region

Security Lab



3450 Massachusetts Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20392-5420
United States

Laboratory Representative


The U.S. Naval Observatory performs an essential scientific role for the United States, the Navy, and the Department of Defense. Its mission includes determining the positions and motions of the Earth, Sun, Moon, planets, stars and other celestial objects, providing astronomical data; determining precise time; measuring the Earth's rotation; and maintaining the Master Clock for the United States. Observatory astronomers formulate the theories and conduct the relevant research necessary to improve these mission goals. This astronomical and timing data, essential for accurate navigation and the support of communications on Earth and in Space, is vital to the Navy and Department of Defense. It is also used extensively by other agencies of the government and the public at large. Founded in 1830 as the Depot of Charts and Instruments, the Naval Observatory is one of the oldest scientific agencies in the country. As a service organization, one of its first tasks was the calibration of ship's chronometers, which was accomplished by timing the transit of stars across the meridian. In 1855 the astronomical and nautical almanacs were started. From these service-oriented beginnings, USNO continues to be responsive to the fleet, DoD, and national needs through provision of applied astrometry and timing products and services.


The USNO mission is to:

  • Determine the positions and motions of celestial bodies, motions of the Earth, and precise time.
  • Provide astronomical and timing data required by the Navy and other components of the Department of Defense for navigation, precise positioning, and command, control, and communications.
  • Make these data available to other government agencies and to the general public.
  • Conduct relevant research, and perform such other functions as may be directed by higher authority.

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