back to article Space, digitisation and storage. Astronomy Legacy Project has it all

Photographic plate image of the colliding galaxies NGC 6769, 6770, and 6771. Photographic plate image of the colliding galaxies NGC 6769, 6770, and 6771. These galaxies are located 190 million light years away. The photograph was taken September 21, 1954 using the 74-inch telescope at Radcliffe Observatory. Nestled in a 200 …

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I hope

They scan at good bit depth in mono and RGB and resolution of more than twice the smallest grain size though.

Worthy archive project.

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Re: I hope

Rather pointless scanning black and white plates in RGB.

Color astronomical photos are made by taking separate pictures at different wavelengths (colors) usually the specific color of a certain chemical rather than just red-green-blue.

You then make these pretty false-color images by printing the different color plates

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Headmaster

Journalism FAIL

It estimates the archive should contain at least 40 undiscovered novae – but the images are fragile and analogue, and their data is difficult to access.

In this case the opposite of "digital" ins NOT "analogue". From where does this 100% stupid vocabulary originate? Let me guess: it's because you can have an "analog signal" and a "digital signal" (better described as a "symbol-based signal"), amirtite?

You may call the image "based on chemical substrate" or "based on bulk material" or "not digitized", but "analogue" it ain't.

Come to think of it, it is "quantized", photographic grain and all that. Still not digital.

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Re: Journalism FAIL

My, aren't we a little grumpy. The vocabulary is idiomatic and understandable, but we have tidied up a little for you. BTW the analogue analogy was derived from Michael Castelaz, who writes "The fragile and analog nature of astronomical photographic plates makes their data difficult to access".

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Re: Journalism FAIL

Excellent, thank you.

Sorry for the grumpiness and waldorfstatlerisms, just having a bad dayweekmonthyear.

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Re: Journalism FAIL

"Come to think of it, it is "quantized", photographic grain and all that."

Random clumps of silver halide grains held in gelatine (aka 'grain') and the whole random power law mosaic convolved with the circle of confusion of the lens in use. And different 'plate constants' in each area of the sky (altitude/horizon co-ords) as the camera mount flexed during exposure.

Plus reticulation if plate very cold when developing.

So, yes, quantised but good luck with trying to 'digitise' that lot directly.

As another poster said, best to scan at a resolution at least x2 on grain size and sort it out later.

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Industry Change

In the early days of digitization it was unbelievably expensive to digitize documents and the results were somewhat less than optimal. It's kind of funny to me that actual scientific data, with public interest (read: fund raising potential) was priced out of the earlier efforts because so many businesses got suckered into scanning hundreds of millions of documents that have never been, nor ever will, be accessed. I think the priorities were pretty screwy.

This is a worthy project and I hope more observation data makes it into accessible archives in the near future.

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Re: Industry Change

Automatic plate scanning invented some of the first "document" scanners.

But since large astronomical plates are 12 - 18 inch square, you need to measure the position of features to a couple of microns and handle 20bits of density range - it was a bit of a challenge for computers even into the 1980s

Even doing small plates by hand with a microscope, vernier dials and pen and paper was a bit tedious

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Re: Industry Change

That's a good point. I guess my thoughts were focused on text digitization projects, not images. It seems a made an apples to donuts comparison.

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Good luck with this project

Sincere good luck with this project. There is an amazing amount of scientific data being lost all over the world due to budgets, or I should say, lack thereof.

Budgets that should be provided by the various governments, instead of haphazardly by begging.

But you do what you have to do, and this is a worthy project.

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Re: Good luck with this project

It's a pity really but Government is too busy subsidizing other industries. The problem with this kind of data is neither the likes of Wally World & Wall Street nor the talking heads of Government can see a monetary payoff in the stars so it's a low non-extant priority for either. It's the same throughout history, look back at transportation in the US, the amount of money, both private and public, that was invested in rail, then roads & aviation. If you aren't the latest kid on the block, you get overlooked and your commuter rail has to wait while a couple of miles of cargo train goes by because commuting doesn't pay the bills and besides commute subsidies are in asphalt and oil.

In a sense, this is both art and science. Perhaps they could do something to gain exposure like a PSA or a subtle plug during that Big Bang Theory show. I understand they had Stephen Hawking on it so why not this?

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Re: Good luck with this project

It is a pity. All of it. The almighty dollar has a way of really warping priorities...

As far as the hunt for funds goes, legacy projects like this have excellent awareness and fund raising potential. Not just completing the project, but for public participation in 'reverse discovery' potential. The Internet is the ultimate image and text delivery vehicle and allowing 'normal' people to access forgotten science is a great way to identify new discoveries and to give credit to all the researchers who devoted their careers to capturing the information, but whose work has been forgotten because of a formatting incompatibility.

Positioned correctly, people will actually pay to volunteer. I think that fact is hilarious, but it's very true. The Appalachian Mountain Club (we call them the Appalachian Money Club) is a $23M annual revenue organization that charges people a fair sum of money to volunteer to do trail maintenance, some of the hardest labor one can do. People really want to help, and be involved, and if you go about garnering that help in the right way they'll pay to do your work for you. Getting people involved in analyzing historical scientific data like this seems like a situation that's ready made for that.

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Kickstarter is amazing.

Although I mainly back games (the most recent I backed was Raindrop) it's really encouraging to see how science projects like this also can benefit from crowdfunding!

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There are probably Agencies who do image comparison every day and might be willing (for goodwill?) to allow use of their capabilities to produce scanned plate images to a standard size; it's not as if the stars have moved a lot since the plates were made, and their angular separation is well known.

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Headmaster

Actually,

in absolute terms the stars have moved quite a lot since many of the plates were taken. It's just that on the astronomical scales being measured, we might not be able to detect it just yet.

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Active laser data storage using PSR 1257 12 b

Assuming efficient detection, sufficient illumination and reflectivity, storage capacity of 6.88*10^21 GB can be obtained by optical retroantennas emplaced at PSR1257 12 b. A grant to begin construction has been applied for.

Heh!

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