Wide-Field Plate Database: Service for Astronomy

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1 Wide-Field Plate Database: Service for Astronomy Milcho K. Tsvetkov To cite this version: Milcho K. Tsvetkov. Wide-Field Plate Database: Service for Astronomy. IMCCE. International Workshop NAROO-GAIA A new reduction of old observations in the Gaia era, Paris Observatory, Jun 2012, Paris, France. pp <hal > HAL Id: hal Submitted on 6 May 2013 HAL is a multi-disciplinary open access archive for the deposit and dissemination of scientific research documents, whether they are published or not. The documents may come from teaching and research institutions in France or abroad, or from public or private research centers. L archive ouverte pluridisciplinaire HAL, est destinée au dépôt et à la diffusion de documents scientifiques de niveau recherche, publiés ou non, émanant des établissements d enseignement et de recherche français ou étrangers, des laboratoires publics ou privés.

2 Wide-Field Plate Database: Service for Astronomy Milcho Tsvetkov Institute of Astronomy and National Astronomical Observatory, Tsarigradsko Shosse Blvd. 72, Sofia-1784 Abstract The project Wide-Field Plate Database (WFPDB, started in the early 1990 s, had aimed to create an inventory and later on a database for existing astronomical photographic wide-filed plates received in professional astronomical institutes and observatories over the world. At present the WFPDB represents a unique web portal of astronomical search for the photographic plate data (metadata for about plates) which allow to obtain information for existing astronomical observations of celestial objects over the past 130 years. Briefly, this is a unique virtual telescope working as a "Time Machine" for obtaining metadata information on historical photographic observations of minor planets, comets, stars, galaxies, etc. The project also aims to continue and expand the successful work initiated during the past 15 years by extending the provision of technical support of the plate digitization using the flatbed scanners and data pipeline plate processing, including online access to data, based on international standards of the European Virtual Observatory (EURO-VO). 1. Introduction As a result of a recommendation made in 1991 by the International Astronomical Union Working Group on Wide-Field Imaging, the task of creating a full list of archives containing plates obtained by wide-field astronomical instruments was started in Sofia, Bulgaria. This was the first step toward the realization of an ambitious project, later named the Sofia Wide- Field Plates Database (WFPDB) that continued the work on establishing a global list of astronomical plate archives. Our worldwide search for wide-field plates is intended to make easier the use of the rich photographic observational material held by astronomical observatories for conducting a variety of investigations. As a result of more than 15 years of collecting information provided by more than 200 astronomical observatories and institutes, the output was compiled. We have identified more than 2,400,000 wide-field plates (Tsvetkov 2006; Tsvetkova & Tsvetkov 2006). WFPDB currently provides information on 592,612 plates from 141 photographic archives (http://www.skyarchive.org/images/wfpdb_new.png) with different observing instruments. It represents about a quarter of the total number of photographic plates in the world. 201

3 2. WFPDB pipeline structure The scheme in Fig. 1 shows the general structure of the WFPDB. It has two main parts: a Catalogue of Wide-Field Plate Archives (CWFPAs) containing the information for all known plate archives and the observational instruments that have produced them, and a Catalogue of Wide-Field Plates Indexes (CWFPIs) containing the parameters of the individual observations. An additional part of the database is the bank of digitized plate images. These can be plate previews and plate scans. A fourth part of the database is in preparation, now only being in the initial stage. It will contain also references to publications concerning the observations in WFPDB and links to on-line services offering the publications in electronic form. Thus the user of the database can get important information for the observations of interest to him. Figure 1. Wide-Filed Plate Database pipeline structure 202

4 3. CWFPAs and Astroweb application development The present version of the CWFPAs was completed in June 2012 after regular updating. The version of the CWFPAs published at CDS VizieR has evolved through four previous versions from the information available in 1992 on 174 separate archives in 49 observatories to the present version containing information on 485 archives produced in 169 observatories worldwide. The detail description of the last version of the CWFPAs and its analysis is presented in the paper of K. Tsvetkova (these proceedings). As a development a new graphical representation the CWFPAs with web-based open source Geographical Information System ASTROWEB is done. The MapServer object model is used for geo-referenced spatial data dynamic representation. ASTROWEB presents (Fig. 2) graphically the data of the CWFPAs version January 2011 (Kolev et al. 2012). Figure 2. ASTROWEB - graphical application of the WFPDB data (http://sci-gems.math.bas.bg/jspui/handle/10525/1783) 4. The Wide-Field Plate Database Management System (DBMS) A Firebird SQL server was chosen for the database management system (DBMS) developed by D. Kalaglarsky. It possesses an open source code, developed by Borland/Inprise as an Interbase, which appear to be an extremely good choice. The good ANSI-SQL support, the flexibility during the work with BLOB, the support of some triggers of the same type, the unique architecture of record closing (or, better to say, the lack of closing), the support of large files (> 4 GB), the easy administration (Firebird practically manages itself), make the work easier, which is so needed in our case. The Entity-Relationship (ER) model is prepared in the Microsoft Visio for 203

5 Enterprise Architects environment. The present version of the WFPDB-system is installed on the DRACO web-server of the Sofia Sky Archive Data Center and can be accessed at The system works under Linux Slackware 8.0 with web-server Apache 2.0 and database management system Firebird 1.0. In Fig. 3 an example of the search in the WFPDB for a plate received with the 2m RCC telescope of the Rozhen National Astronomical Observatory is shown. 5. Digitization of photographic plates preparation of digital images with low and high resolution according to the WFPDB requirements For the plate digitization we use mainly the professional flatbed scanners type EPSON XL, 1640XL and V700/750. The plates are scanned twice - once at low resolution with 8 bit colour, and again with high resolution - 16 bit gray in FITS/ TIFF formats. The purpose of scanning with low resolution (within dpi or > ~ m) is to prepare digital images for rapid visualization of the included in the WFPDB plates. This provides an opportunity for preliminary examination (preview) of the selected sky region (plate) and its evaluation in terms of area covered by the celestial sphere, the visibility of certain objects, the limit magnitude (related to duration of exposure), image quality and others. The developed technology for plate scanning is accepted in observatories in Europe as a standard. Images of plates with high resolution, typically dpi (< ~20 10 m), are designed for photometry. These images are in grayscale. The preview image is taken in colour, aiming for recording the original marks on the plate glass made by the astronomer during the previous visual plate inspection. The typical duration of a scan for one cm plate with the cleaning, fitting on the scanner, setting scanning parameters, filling in the header file with the information and visual inspection of the resulting scan is about minutes. The memory needed is about 0.7 GB. Only the scanning time of a plate with dimensions cm (cleaned before scanning) with the EPSON 10000XL with 2400 dpi resolution is about 18 minutes. In some cases, when very high resolution (of a few m) was needed, or for test and calibration measurements (densities to 5.0 D), the photographic plates were digitised by the high-precision microdensitometer PDS1010 Plus in SSADC. Plate scanning laboratories using the flatbed scanners were established with standard methods of scanning at astronomical institutes in Germany (Hamburg, Potsdam, Bamberg, Jena, Heidelberg), Hungary (Konkoly), Romania (Bucharest), Belgrade, Ukraine (Main Astronomical Observatory, Kiev), Russia (INASAN, Moscow, Zvenigorod) and others. The methodology (know-how) for plate digitization with EPSON flatbed scanners was spread also in the astronomical institutes in Prague, Tatranska Lomnica, Cluj, Zvenigorod, etc. The details of the technology of the plate digitization used in the WFPDB are described in Kirov et al. (2012), Tsvetkov et al. (2012) 204

6 Fig 3. An example of plate search in the WFPDB giving a plate preview. 205

7 6. Conclusions and useful links Mainly we would like to stress that with the flatbed scanners it was possible to digitize about 250,000 plates for 10 years (an average of ~ 25,000 plates per year), with total data about ~20 TB. With classic scanners only about 25,000 plates were digitized for 25 year period. To digitize and archive the rest of one million more existing European plates will take about 15 years more, even using the faster professional flatbed scanners. Nevertheless, in spite of this time frame, the task of plate digitization now looks to be feasible. Here some of the most important points of the WFPDB work are summarized: We already have a unique virtual portal for searching wide-field plates taken in the period More than one-third of the existing wide-field plates are cataloged. About 250,000 plates from the European plate stacks are now digitized (about 20 TB of data), mostly by using commercial flatbed scanners. Since Spring 2009 we have started to publish the data available in the standards of the GAVO, respectively the EURO-VO. The major difficulties are the low speed of cataloging and visualization, bad website updating and, of course, funding. The WFPDB database mirrors exist at the Institute of Mathematics and Informatics, BAS, and at the Institute of astronomy and National Astronomical Observatory and in the Potsdam Astrophysical Institute: skyarchive.org (WFPDB) (WFPDB) (ASTROWEB) (StarGazer - new version at IA BAS). Acknowledgements. We are thankful to the NAROO organizers for the support to attend the conference. This work is supported by the Bulgarian National Science Fund of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Science, grants BGNSF DO and DO References Kirov, N., M. Tsvetkov, K. Tsvetkova, (2012), Software Tools for Digitization of Astronomical Photographic Plates, Serdica Journal of Computing, ISSN: , Vol. 6, No. 1, pp

8 Kolev A., Tsvetkov M., Dimov D., Kalaglarsky D. 2012, ASTROWEB - A Graphical Representation of an Astronomical WFPDB Database Using a Web-Based Open Source Geographical Information System, Serdica Journal of Computing, ISSN Vol. 6, pp Tsvetkov M. 2006, Wide-Field Plate Database: a Decade of Development, Proceedings of iastro workshop Virtual Observatory: Plate Content Digitization, Archive Mining and Image Sequence, Eds M. Tsvetkov, F. Murtagh, R. Molina, Sofia, Bulgaria, ISBN , pp Tsvetkov M. 2012, Wide-Field Plate Database: Development And Access Via Internet in the Period January June 2010, Publ. Astron. Soc. Rudjer Boškovi, ISBN , No 11, pp , Tsvetkov M, Tsvetkova K., Kirov N. 2012, Technology for Scanning Astronomical Photographic Plates, Serdica Journal of Computing, ISSN , Vol. 6, pp Tsvetkova K., Tsvetkov M. 2006, Catalogue of Wide-Field Plate Archives: Version 5.0, Proceedings of iastro workshop Virtual Observatory: Plate Content Digitization, Archive Mining and Image Sequence, Eds M. Tsvetkov, F. Murtagh, R. Molina, Sofia, Bulgaria, ISBN , pp

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