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APDA and the PARI Library

Astronomical Photographic Data Archive (APDA)

|Infrastructure| |Projects| |Publications and Presentations| |For More Information| |APDA Home|


Acknowledging Those Who Made the Astronomy Legacy Project Possible


Before the invention of digital cameras in the 1990's, and for more than 120 years before that, astronomers put in several million telescope hours photographing the night sky - measuring star brightnesses, detecting comets, planets, nebulae, mapping our Galaxy, and building the foundations of our understanding of our Universe. All of this raw beauty, and secrets yet to be discovered, are held as largely unexplored photometric, astrometric, spectral and surface brightness images on thin, fragile pieces of glass. Archiving and digitizing the glass photographic plates is the only way to forever preserve these 1,000 terabytes of data acquired and left as a legacy to us by our greatest scientists studying the night sky, and giving future explorers a time machine to the past night sky.

The Astronomical Photographic Data Archive (APDA), located at the Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute (PARI), was established in 2007 as a center for collecting, restoring, preserving and storing astronomical photographic data. APDA is also tasked with digitizing each image and establishing a database of images that can be accessed via the Internet by the global community of scientists, researchers, students, and interested public. 

The Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute. Based at a former NASA Tracking Station on 200 acres of land, PARI is a not-for-profit public foundation dedicated to providing hands-on educational and research opportunities for a broad cross-section of users in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) disciplines.  APDA is located in the Research Building, the rightmost building in the photo.

About 20% of the plates in North America are located in the Astronomical Photographic Data Archive.  The 40 collections in APDA with nearly 220,000 images include plates taken for QSO identification, parallax measurements, spectral classification and monitoring, Magellanic Cloud studies, H-alpha emission star surveys, novae evolution, and astrometry of asteroids, outer planet satellites and Pluto.  More plates are added every year.

|Infrastructure| |Projects| |Publications and Presentations| |For More Information| |APDA Home|

Books and Journals in the PARI Library

Visiting researchers and students, as well as permanent PARI staff, have access to a large collection of astronomical, physical, and mathematical books and principal journals in astronomy and related sciences.

Through purchase and donations, PARI has been steadily building a collection of journals, textbooks and treatises, and reference works in the physical sciences, mathematics, computer science and engineering. The collection still has many needs, so acquisition will be a continuing effort.

The collection is being consolidated into an library area adjacent to the media center in Building 1. The area is also convenient to professional staff offices and the main antenna control room. Work is already in progress; when complete, the library will have a digital catalog, Internet access, patron reading and desk furniture, shelving for 20,000 volumes and a separate workroom for a librarian.

Books and journals have been donated by a wide variety of people and libraries. Holdings include:

  • The Astronomical Journal (complete from volume 1)
  • The Astrophysical Journal (complete from volume 1)
  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Publicatons of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific
  • Monthly Notices of the RAS
  • Nature
  • Science
  • Journal of Geophysical Research
Electronic cataloging is in process. Organization of general (survey) and introductory monographs by age and knowledge appropriate levels, as designed to serve PARI educational programs, is a convenient feature of each subject matter section.


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