Preserving and sharing the wealth of the Vatican Observatory

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This article by Fr. Alessandro Omizzolo, S. J., an astronomer with the Vatican Observatory, describes efforts to preserve the photographic archives of the Vatican Observatory. The article appeared in The Planetarian in December 2015. Omizzolo writes:

The photographic plates, over time, are subject to deterioration and, in some cases, the posting from sensitive layer of glass jelly with consequent loss without possibility of recovery of any information. For this reason, in 2003 the Vatican Observatory decided to preserve the photographic archive by digitizing it…. In addition to preserving the heritage they contain, scientific goals can be reached thanks to digitalization, including: the study/discovery of previous transits of near-Earth objects, stars with high proper motion, spectral classification on large fields, curves of variability of quasars or variable stars, and more. The only way to preserve information stored in photographic plates and make it available to the international scientific community is to digitalize it and store the scanned images on hard disks accessible from a network.

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