Archives of Photographic PLates for Astronomical USE

Welcome to the APPLAUSE archives

Example of a photographic plate

Example of a photographic plate. More sample images can be found in the image gallery. Access to all image material is also provided by the viewer.

German astronomical observatories own considerable collection of photographic plates. While these observations lead to significant discoveries in the past, they are also of interest for scientists today and in the future. In particular, for the study of long-term variability of many types of stars, these measurements are of immense scientific value.

There are about 85000 plates in the archives of Hamburger Sternwarte, Dr. Karl Remeis-Sternwarte Bamberg, and Leibniz-Institut für Astrophysik Potsdam (AIP). The plates are digitized with high-resolution flatbed scanners. In addition, the corresponding plate envelopes and observation logbooks are digitized, and further metadata are entered into the database. The work is carried out within the project “Digitalisierung astronomischer Fotoplatten und ihre Integration in das internationale Virtual Observatory”, which is funded by the DFG.

On this site, you can get access to the plate data that are processed so far. Please use the registration form to get a user account. Then you can submit SQL queries or fill search forms using the query interface. Without signing in, the query interface can be used as a guest user.

Data Release 3 is available


If you make use of the APPLAUSE data please cite the appropriate acknowledgements for the various data releases:

Recent News

  • Large surveys with small telescopes

    The conference program is ready, and it's a dense sequence of talks from 09:00h to 18:00h each of the three days.

    Conference Progam

    The talks and posters are published on this Conference material .

  • APPLAUSE Data Release 3 published

    Data Release 3 (DR3) was published on October 24, 2018. It contains images and data from the Bamberg, Hamburg, Potsdam, Tautenburg and Tartu plate collections. DR3 contains 101138 scans of 70276 photographic plates. All material of former data releases is included. Additionally, 96852 images of logbook pages and plate covers from 215 logbooks are available. More than 3.508 billion extracted sources, of which 2.065 billion have with matched UCAC4 designations, again adding a billion sources compared to DR2. Both astrometry and photometry were redone with improved accuracy. The lightcurve table of DR3 combines information from different tables for convenience. Different to DR2 we only include data from one scan, if there were more than one. More on DR3 you find at Data Release 3. For each of the 24 plate archives/collections of DR3 coverage plots are provided.

    Also: with DR3 we use the new Daiquiri software which provides improved support for IVOA protocols and extended access methods. A full support for ADQL and TAP is built in now, and also support for Europeana and other sites with a OAI-PMH API.

  • Large surveys with small telescopes

    Large surveys with small telescopes -Past, Present, and Future (Astroplate III) A conference on the uses of digitized photographic plates Bamberg, 11. to 13. of March 2019 More information and registration: Conference site

  • APPLAUSE Data Release 2 published

    Data Release 2 (DR2) was published on February 29, 2016. It contains data from the Bamberg, Hamburg, Potsdam, and Tartu plate collections. DR2 contains 51517 scans of 42789 plates. All material of the former data release is included in the 58115 digital images of plate covers and logbook pages, 149 logbooks. With 2.59 billion extracted sources this data release extends the former catalogs by nearly a billion sources. The lightcurve table of DR2 is calibrated and provides additional photometric information for astronomical work with the data. The total size of the published files is 30 TB.

  • APPLAUSE Data Release 1 published

    The APPLAUSE Data Release 1 (DR1) contains digitized phtographic plates from the Bamberg, Hamburg and Potsdam observatories. Over 25 thousand plate scans and a catalogue of over 1.6 billion extracted sources are available to the astronomy community and to the public. The oldest published plates date back to 1909 and the newest are from 1976. The majority of plate scans include astrometric solutions, making it possible to match the historic observations with contemporary object catalogues.

  • APPLAUSE database updated

    The APPLAUSE database received a major update this month: the underlying structure was renewed and a large batch of data was added. Currently the database contains metadata of 19017 plates and over 127 million extracted sources from 4887 scans.

  • Plate Archive presented at the annual AG meeting

    The Plate Archive and the digitization project will be presented in two talks at the Annual Meeting of Astronomische Gesellschaft:

    • Taavi Tuvikene – High-mass stars in the digital archive of photographic plates (Splinter meeting D, September 24)
    • Heinz Edelmann – The Bamberg photographic plate archive – the digitization project (Splinter meeting A, September 24)

  • Plate Archive launched!

    The Plate Archive has been launched with a small set of data for demonstration purposes. As of September 18, 2013, there are 2399 plates inserted from the Potsdam Zeiss Triplet and Hamburg Large Schmidt Telescope collections. The source catalogue includes data from the Cygnus OB2 association and its surroundings. More will come in the months ahead!