Previous Article Next Article Table of Contents


Photographic Plate Surveys at NOAO (1Dec95) (from KPNO, NOAO Newsletter No. 44, December 1995) We presently have the following sky surveys or atlases for use at NOAO: the 1950 Palomar Sky Survey (POSS); the ESO/SRC blue and red atlases, on both film and glass; the SRC infrared atlas on film; and the equatorial ESO/SRC atlas on glass. In addition, we are in the process of acquiring the new Palomar survey. These surveys, as well as original plates obtained at the Kitt Peak telescopes, are stored in an environmentally controlled vault in the NOAO office building to preserve, as best as possible, the photographic emulsion. There are also print copies of the Palomar survey available at two locations on Kitt Peak and one in the downtown office. Brief descriptions of the surveys follow: The Palomar Survey This is the survey completed in the 1950s with the Palomar Schmidt telescope, covering the sky in the declination range 0d to 90d in 894 fields, and the equatorial extension covering the declination range -15d to 0d in 287 fields. We have a complete set of glass plates (both red and blue), which may be used by those needing the dimensional stability of the plates for astrometry. These plates are mounted within cover glasses to protect the emulsion. In addition, there is a set of prints in a file cabinet in the measuring engine room and two sets of prints on Kitt Peak, one in the 4-m telescope building and the other in the reading room in the Administration Building. A set of Ohio overlay grids is stored with each set of prints. The ESO/SRC Atlas We have both film and glass plate copies of the red and blue southern sky atlas. The blue plates were exposed at the Royal Observatory Edinburgh Scientific Research Council (SRC) observatory at Siding Springs, Australia. The red plates were taken at the European Southern Observatory (ESO) in Chile. The plates were copied at ESO headquarters in Munich, Germany. The film copies, which were ordered first, were mounted within a glass sandwich in a manner similar to the Palomar survey to permit safe handling for measurement or reproduction. At a later time, the glass plates were ordered as they became available. These are also mounted with a cover glass to protect the emulsion. Both the film and plate sets of the atlas are now complete. The SRC Equatorial Atlas The SRC has made a recent survey of the declination range -15d to 0d in both red and blue plates. The quality of the plates in the Palomar survey in this declination range was only fair, due to the large zenith distance. We have ordered a glass copy set, which is now nearly complete. The ESO Quick Blue Survey These were the first plates made in Chile using the ESO Schmidt and were done quickly to provide coverage of the southern sky. We have a set of glass plate copies. The New Palomar Survey This is a new northern hemisphere survey presently underway to repeat the original 1950 survey, using the Oschin telescope (Palomar Schmidt). We are purchasing only the film copies of the blue, red, and I survey, with one set to be at the NOAO building and the other at CTIO. A number of these have been received and are available for use. Use of the Plates The atlases are available for use by anyone. Outside users need only write to the NOAO Director for permission to use them. The room adjacent to the plate vault contains a two-axis Grant measuring engine and a Polaroid camera for making finding charts. We can make arrangements to assist in the use of these facilities. Index charts of the northern and southern sky show the plates available. High quality prints of an area on a plate can be made in the NOAO photo lab. The original telescope plates are available for scientific research purposes with permission from the NOAO Director. We can supply prints or, under special arrangement, send the original plates to the requester for a limited period of time. An index of the 4-m and many of the other telescope plates may be accessed on the World Wide Web. Bill Schoening
Previous Article Next Article Table of Contents