Tuesday, July 10, 2007

A Trip Back in Time and Space -- Harvard's Cosmos

The New York Times has a good article on a dedicated effort to digitize the Harvard Observatory plate archive.

I hope Chicago eventually does the same with the Yerkes collection. With the closing of the Yerkes Library, much of the plate collection is coming down to campus, although I don't know how much of the telescopic plate collection is coming. Yerkes has a fantastic historical photo collection of observatories, instruments, and astronomers.


Jennifer said...

Sorry, my editor's sense is tingling...

What do you mean by "a fantastic collection in observatories, instruments, and astronomers"? A fantastic collection of these things? A fantastic collection among them? A collection that's more fantastic than other similar collections?

In any case, you're right about Yerkes having a fantastic collection. I remember hearing a on a field trip there (about 10 yr ago) that it's useful to keep making observations with the same instruments at the same location for 100+ years because it's an excellent way to measure changes over time in stars and other objects themselves. I've always wondered about the extent of this usefulness, but if older observatories go through all the trouble of digitizing their archives, then that extent must be pretty large.

I was just thinking about Yerkes this morning and had an idea. Maybe you can help me out; I'll tell you about it later.

Dean W. Armstrong said...

I know; I changed that sentence at first because I used the phrase "plate collection" too many times. I meant its plate collection is well stocked with photos of observatories, instruments, and astronomers. Need an 8x10 glass negative of Otto Struve or Pulkovo Observatory? Yerkes has it! And they used to be able to make huge prints from those plates.

Jennifer said...

What I meant to say was:
"I see; thanks for clarifying which plates are which!"
Oy, astronomy gets so confusing. Sorry about all that.

Benjamin said...

Wait - the Yerkes Library is closing? When did this happen, and why did no-one tell me?

Dean W. Armstrong said...

It's been announced for a while.


A lot of the collection got moved to Crerar--but duplicates and such or stuff that Crerar or Special Collections didn't want will still be up there.