Archives of Photographic PLates for Astronomical USE

List of astronomical photographic plate archives

Note: currently the present list is based entirely on the Catalogue of the WFPA.





Algiers Observatory


Astronomical Observatory of Córdoba Félix Aguilar Observatory


Byurakan Observatory


Australian Astronomical Observatory Melbourne Observatory Perth Observatory Sydney Observatory


Leopold Figl Observatory Vienna Observatory Kanzelhöhe Observatory for Solar and Environmental Research


Royal Observatory of Belgium


Rozhen National Astronomical Observatory


Dominion Astrophysical Observatory

500 direct + 126,000 spectra

University of Toronto Astronomy Department

11,000 direct + 62,000 spectra

Czech Republic



Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory


Shanghai Astronomical Observatory






Tartu Observatory

The estimated total number of direct plates is 4000, of which about 2300 have been digitized. The digitized plates are 9x12 cm, scanned with 1600 dpi and 16 bit per pixel. Most of the digitized plates are from 1950-1987, observed objects are asteroids, comets and variable stars.

Among the not-digitized direct plates are older plates, observations of solar eclipses, and other exotic material. These plates are also not catalogued, but are easily accessible.

There are about 2500 spectral plates (slit spectra) from 1976-1994. About 500 of these plates have been digitized.


Helsingfors Observatory Tuorla Observatory


Paris Toulouse Bordeaux




Dr. Karl Remeis-Sternwarte Bamberg

Most of the Bamberg plates are from projects to search for variable stars.

The most interesting project is most likely the one initiated in the early 1960s by the former director of the Remeis observatory, Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Strohmeier. He launched the Bamberg Southern Photographic Patrol Survey (BSPPS, Strohmeier W., 1963, "The Bamberg Search for Bright Variable Stars", Sky and Telescope, Vol. 26, p. 264) at the southern Remeis observatory's outpost located at Boyden, South Africa. Also plates were taken for this project by the Mount John University at the Lake Tekapo observatory, New Zealand, and at the La Plata Astronomical Observatory in Argentina.

On every clear night almost the complete sky was observed, using 22 identical Kodak wide field cameras (d=10cm), in order to get time series of the observed fields.

The project lasted until 1976. In total more than 22,000 photographic plates were taken.

From a scientist's point of view, this project is especially interesting: the Harvard sky patrols in South Africa were stopped in the late 1950s early 1960s, the European Southern observatory did not start their observations before 1966, and also no other sky patrols for the southern hemisphere have been performed at other stations by this time. Therefore, all southern data from this time are solely from the BSPPS.

Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam (AIP)

Archive - Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam (AIP)

Jena University Observatory

Direct images (82%), low-resolution spectra and images for technical purpose (14%) on 1257 wide-field plates of 16x16 cm size obtained in the period from February 1963 to December 1982 with a 60/90/180-cm Schmidt telescope at Großschwabhausen 10 km west of Jena.

Digitized are 1159 available plates (98 plates are missing) in both low (1200 dpi) and high (2400 dpi) resolution as JPEG and FITS accordingly with an Epson Perfection V700 flatbed scanner and Scanfits software, the logbooks and metadata of all 1257 plates (in WFPDB format). FITS headers were created by the FTOOLS software. The archive includes astrometric solution done by the IDL astro library for all plates with the plate scale 1.213±0.0011"/px in RA and 1.209±0.00079"/px in Dec.

Metadata, the logbook and plate previews are available online in the WFPDB searchable by the observatory and telescope identifier JEN060. The FITS are not available online as of 10-Feb-2020. The original scan data comprises ~1.7 TB. Contact person for the archive is Valeri Hambaryan at the Astrophysical Institute of the Jena University.

Based on: Poghosyan, A.V. et al. Wide-Field Plate Archive of the University Observatory Jena (2014).

Tautenburg Observatory

Archive - Tautenburg Observatory

Hamburg Observatory Sonneberg Observatory Heidelberg-Königstuhl Observatory






Bosscha Observatory


Observatory of Turin Asiago Astrophysical Observatory Loiano Observatory Rome Observatory Catania Astrophysical Observatory


Kiso Observatory


Baldone Astrophysical Observatory

Archive - Baldone Astrophysical Observatory


Tacubaya Observatory Tonantzintla Observatory



New Zealand

Mount John University Observatory


Astronomical Observatory of the Jagiellonian University Poznań Observatory Toruń Centre for Astronomy


Bucharest Observatory Cluj-Napoca Observatory


Engelhard Astronomical Observatory (EAO) of the Kazan Federal University


Belgrade Observatory


Skalnaté Pleso Observatory




Kvistaberg Observatory Stockholm Observatory Uppsala Astronomical Observatory




Hissar Observatory




Astronomical Observatory of Kyiv National University Main Astronomical Observatory Astronomical Observatory of Lviv National University Nikolaev Astronomical Observatory


Allegheny Observatory

115,000 direct + 18,000 spectra

Carnegie Observatories

150,000 direct + 150,000 spectra (includes Mt. Wilson plates)

Harvard College Observatory

565,000 direct and objective prism plates + 100 slit spectra

Kitt Peak National Observatory

12,000 direct + 10,000 spectra

McCormick Observatory

61,000 direct

McDonald Observatory

Most of the McDonald Observatory plates from its founding about 1939 until the end of its association with Yerkes Observatory in the mid-1960s are archive at the Yerk

Lick Observatory

47,000 direct + 126,000 spectra es Observatory.

Lowell Observatory

57,500 direct + 4000 spectra

Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute

200,000 direct + 20,000 spectra

Sproul Observatory

80,000 direct

Van Vleck Observatory

20,000 direct

Yale University Astronomy Department

85,000 direct

Yerkes Observatory

70,000 direct + 84,000 spectra. The Yerkes plate archive includes plates from McDonald Observatory, the University of Illinois Observatory and Dearborn Observatory.


Maidanak Astronomical Observatory


Vatican Observatory


Llano del Hato National Astronomical Observatory

Although now a little out of data, a starting place for astronomical plate archives in North America is in Osborn and Robbins: Preserving Astronomy's Photographic Legacy, ASP Conference Series, Vol 410, 2009. The article beginning on page 83 and the Appendix C in this volume give relevant information. Both articles are available through the ADS service: