Workshop on a National Plan for Preserving Astronomical Photographic Data; Nov.1-3, 2007; PARI, NC

  • Osborn, Wayne W.H. (PI)
  • Castelaz, Michael (CoPI)

Grant Details




Workshop on a National Plan for Preserving Astronomical Photographic Data; Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute (PARI), western North Carolina; November 1st to 3rd, 2007.

Astronomical observatories possess unique and unrepeatable observational data, recorded photographically and extending back more than one hundred years. The observations include direct images and objective-prism and slit spectra. Well over half of the estimated 3 million photographs worldwide were exposed at North American observatories. Unfortunately, this irreplaceable material is in increasing danger of being lost forever.

This project is an intensive three-day workshop devoted to developing a national plan for the preservation and future use of North American astronomy's heritage of historic photographic observations. Steps to be considered include assessing the current state of photographic collections, establishing protocols for preservation, designating a suitable repository, planning for conversion to an accessible digital format, and identifying a core team to execute the plan. These fundamental decisions should reasonably only be made by a group that is fully representative of the interested parties. The meeting will be held at PARI because it is a strong candidate to house a long-term national astronomical plate archive.

Establishing a suitable archive will make this material, currently underutilized and largely inaccessible, available to the worldwide astronomical community. Participants in the workshop include interested astronomers, but also observatory representatives, archivists specializing in photographic materials, and science historians. Any decisions and recommendations reached at the Workshop are likely to be fundamental for future preservation and accessibility projects.

Effective start/end date09/1/0708/31/08


  • National Science Foundation: $15,099.00


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