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Stars in Dusty Filing Cabinets

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Science  24 Apr 2009:
Vol. 324, Issue 5926, pp. 460-461
DOI: 10.1126/science.324_460

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A campaign to digitize old sky photographs is squeezing new discoveries out of observations dating back to the mid-19th century. Proponents argue that old plates provide the only way modern astronomers can study astrophysical phenomena on time scales longer than a few decades. Preserving and scanning old plates, however, has been slow to win support from the broader astronomy community and funding agencies.