Advances in wide-angle astrometric measurements of three to four orders of magnitude in the last thirty years have resulted in a redefinition of the fundamental astronomical reference frame. This new frame, the International Celestial Reference Frame (ICRF), is based on the radio positions of 212 compact extragalactic radio sources. The ICRF defines the direction of the axes of the International Celestial Reference System (ICRS) with a precision of approximately 20 μas. At optical wavelengths, the Hipparcos catalog is the realization of this frame. The precision with which the ICRF is now determined requires that the ICRS models for precession, nutation, and others, be revised. Increases in the precision of measurements from astrometric space missions will further improve the celestial reference frame and may require its redefinition within the next ten years. These improvements will again challenge the models for the celestial reference system.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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