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Paper: Making Astronomical Photographic Data Available: The European Perspective
Volume: 410, Preserving Astronomy's Photographic Legacy
Page: 15
Authors: Tsvetkov, M.
Abstract: A brief summary is given of the results of the initiatives to search for and preserve the wide-field photographic plate archives at the European observatories which has been carried out mainly in the last two decades. The work was done in the context of several initiatives of the IAU Working Group on Wide-Field Imaging, later on renamed the WG of Sky Surveys. With the end of the age of photographic astronomy in the final years of the 20th century, all of the photographic sky surveys made using wide-field telescopes remained, and created the the problem of how to preserve these 120 years of observations that mapped the sky. Following recommendations by the IAU, a small data center was organized in the Institute of Astronomy, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences dedicated to the plate preservation and their inventory and possible digitization. Our work in this area since 1991 has led to the conclusion that there are about 2.2 million plates taken with wide-field telescopes available in the different professional astronomical institutes observatories around the world. The digitization and on-line access to this unique observational material – especially the European wide-field plates of value – are discussed in this paper.
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