Scientists have digitized more than 94,000 images of the starry sky taken in the last century

An international research consortium has completed the APPLAUSE project. Scientists digitized, processed using

machine learning and cataloged celestial images from the archives of observatories and research institutes from 1893 to 1998.

Researchers note that the key toastronomical use has an accurate calibration of the digitized data. For their project, the scientists developed the open source PyPlate program. This system uses machine learning methods to detect errors. For example, it recognizes artifacts (scratches and dust particles) and improves the image.


Left:The Pleiades as seen from the Vatican Observatory on November 24, 1951. Right: The Andromeda Galaxy observed on October 14, 1923 with the Hamburg Sternwart 1-meter refractor. Source: APPLAUSE

Scientists used calibration dataspace mission ESA Gaia, published in December 2020, to compare and detect objects in archival images. It is reported that in total, the latest set of processed data contains information about almost 4.5 billion light sources captured in the images.

The largest part of the collection is survey dataof the northern sky obtained from 17,600 photographic plates taken between 1912 and 1968 by the observatory of Dr. Carl Remeis of the Erlangen-Nuremberg University in Bamberg. In addition, the researchers processed the archive of the former observatory of the Academy of Sciences of the GDR and images of the astronomical observatory of the Vatican, located in the summer residence of the Pope in Castel Gandolfo.

Map of the "coverage" of the project: the number of images for each area of ​​the sky. Source: APPLAUSE

Astronomical photographs are unique - theystars and other celestial objects are seen at a point in time that will never return, scientists say. Access to digitized images and archive of historical data is now open to researchers and ordinary users from all over the world.

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