AAS 206th Meeting, 29 May - 2 June 2005
Session 24 History of Astronomy, Surveys, Plate Collections
Oral, Monday, 2:00-3:30pm, May 30, 2005, 102 D

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[24.04] Preserving and Archiving Astronomical Photographic Plates

M. W. Castelaz, J. D. Cline (PARI)

Astronomical objects change with time. New observations complement past observations recorded on photographic plates. Analyses of changes provide essential routes to information about an object's formation, constitution and evolution. Preserving a century of photographic plate observations is thus of paramount importance. Plate collections are presently widely dispersed; plates may be stored in poor conditions, and are effectively inaccessible to both researchers and historians. We describe a planned project at Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute to preserve the collections of astronomical plates in the United States by gathering them into a single storage location. Collections will be sorted, cleaned, and cataloged on-line so as to provide access to researchers. Full scientific and historic use of the material then requires the observations themselves to be accessible digitally. The project's goal will be the availability of these data as a unique, fully-maintained scientific and educational resource. The new archive will support trans-disciplinary research such as the chemistry of the Earth's atmosphere, library information science, trends in local weather patterns, and impacts of urbanization on telescope use, while the hand-written observatory logs will be a valuable resource for science historians and biographers.

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

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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 37 #2
© 2005. The American Astronomical Soceity.