A → European Space Agency satellite, which was launched in August 1989 and operated until March 1993. It was the first space mission devoted to → astrometry with an unprecedented degree of accuracy. The telescope on Hipparcos had a main mirror of diameter 29 cm. Calculations from observations by the main instrument generated the Hipparcos Catalogue of 118,218 stars charted with the highest precision (published in 1997) containing positions, distances, → parallaxes, and → proper motions. An auxiliary star mapper pinpointed many more stars with lesser but still unprecedented accuracy, in the Tycho Catalogue of 1,058,332 stars. The Tycho 2 Catalogue, completed in 2000, brings the total to 2,539,913 stars, and includes 99% of all stars down to magnitude 11. → Gaia.
Hipparcos, acronym for → High → Precision → Parallax → Collecting → Satellite, chosen for its similarity to the name of the Greek astronomer Hipparchus of Nicaea (c. 190-125 BC), one of the most influential astronomers of antiquity, who compiled an extensive star catalogue in which he gave the positions of over 1,000 stars and also classified them according to their magnitude (on a scale of 1 to 6, brightest to faintest). Ptolemy later incorporated this information into his → Almagest. In addition, he discovered the → precession of the equinoxes.