AAS 203rd Meeting, January 2004
Session 20 Accessing Data Bases
Poster, Monday, January 5, 2004, 9:20am-6:30pm, Hanover Hall

[Previous] | [Session 20] | [Next]

[20.01] Archiving and Digitization of Photographic Plates at Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute

J. D. Cline, M. W. Castelaz (Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute), E. Griffin (Dominion Astrophysical Observatory), W. Osborn (Central Michigan University)

Understanding the physics of celestial objects relies heavily on observations of change. Short-term changes can be studied through new observations, but what of changes that happen slowly over decades, sometimes almost imperceptibly, occasionally violently, often serendipitously? One can learn little of such phenomena unless one has access to observations covering lengthy time periods. Digital archives are therefore an essential, unique element of modern astronomical research. Astronomy has rich archives of historic observations but most of these treasures are stored on photographic plates. The information on those plates is not digital, and is therefore not compatible with modern research methods. Nevertheless, photographic plates constitute an enormously important and, for the large part, unrepeatable resource for research. International pressure is mounting to rescue, preserve and catalog the plates, and to capture their information through digitization in order to generate a public database of ready-to-use images and spectra for worldwide research. The task is large but uncomplicated, and is fully feasible with modern technology.

Few observatories today have the resources to digitize their own plates appropriately. To meet that need, PARI is establishing a new initiative called the Center of Astronomical Plate Preservation (CAPP). The intention is to develop CAPP as a long-term repository for unwanted plate collections, in particular astrometric and objective prism plates currently stored in North American observatories, and a center for digitizing plate collections. CAPP will thus work in parallel with the Spectroscopic Virtual Observatory, located in Canada to digitize spectra from archives worldwide, but CAPP may ultimately also store spectra after digitization. The digitized astronomical data will be made available to the public via the Internet.

PARI is a natural home for plates, offering physically secure and abundant environmentally controlled space with Internet 2 infrastructure. We will describe the facilities at PARI for CAPP and the role of PARI as a vital archival resource.

If you would like more information about this abstract, please follow the link to http://www.pari.edu. This link was provided by the author. When you follow it, you will leave the Web site for this meeting; to return, you should use the Back comand on your browser.

The author(s) of this abstract have provided an email address for comments about the abstract: dcline@pari.edu

[Previous] | [Session 20] | [Next]

Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 35#5
© 2003. The American Astronomical Soceity.