Seventeen years ago, the Hipparcos project was accepted within ESA’s scientific programme, as the first space mission specifically devoted to the accurate measurement of stellar positions. As the result of an unprecedented and productive collaboration between ESA and the European astronomical community, the Hipparcos project has reached a decisive milestone.
The Hipparcos and Tycho Catalogues were completed in August 1996, and made widely available in June 1997, when they were published by ESA as the 17-volume publication ESA SP-1136. Volume 17 includes all data files, and documentation, in the form of six ASCII CD-ROMs. The catalogues can be obtained from the ESA Publications Division, with full details (and an order form)given on the Hipparcos www page, http://astro.estec.esa.nl/Hipparcos. The full catalogues are also available via ftp from the CDS, Strasbourg, where the catalogue data are also linked to the cross-identifications in the SIMBAD data base, and through the VizieR relational data base queries.
The Hipparcos www page also supports remote interrogation of the catalogues, either by object (HIP or TYC) identifier, or via a search range in right ascension and declination. Active links allow the user to follow selected HIP or TYC identifiers, entering the associated annexes (Variability Annexes, and the Double and Multiple Systems Annex) or inspecting the light-curve (in PDF form) when provided. A more comprehensive search and interrogation facility will become available at the end of 1997 in the form of a CD-ROM (Celestia 2000) with access and display software prepared for IBM PC and compatibles running under Windows 3.1, Windows 95, or Windows NT.