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Digitizing 100 Years of Astronomical Data 115

Maximum Prophet writes to mention that a collection of glass plates containing astronomical information from the late 19th century through the mid-1980s is being considered for digitization. "The accumulated result weighs heavily on its keepers on Observatory Hill, just up Garden Street from Harvard Square: more than half a million images constituting humanity's only record of a century's worth of sky. 'Besides being 25 percent of the world's total of astronomical photographic plates, this is the only collection that covers both hemispheres,' said Alison Doane, curator of a glass database occupying three floors, two of them subterranean, connected by corkscrew stairs. It weighs 165 tons and contains more than a petabyte of data. The scary thing is that there is no backup." I'm sure that anyone with a spare $5 million or so would be welcomed with open arms.

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