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At left is a photograph of the Orion Nebula from page 396 of the June 1905 Astrophysical Journal — without coordinate labels to fix its celestial position and orientation.
"You simply couldn't do a project like this in any reasonable amount of time without 'crowdsourcing,'" says Julie Steffen, AAS Director of Publishing.
Astronomy Rewind is built on a foundation laid by the ADS All-Sky Survey, an earlier effort to extract scientifically valuable images from old astronomy papers using computers.
"It turns out that machines aren't very good at recognizing celestial images on digitized pages that contain a mixture of text and graphics," says Alberto Accomazzi (SAO/ADS).
Credit: American Astronomical Society, NASA/SAO Astrophysics Data System & World Wide Telescope.
A new citizen-science project will rescue tens of thousands of potentially valuable cosmic images that are mostly dead to science and bring them fully back to life.
Called Astronomy Rewind, the effort, which launches today (22 March 2017), will take photographs, radio maps, and other telescopic images that have been scanned from the pages of dusty old journals and place them in context in digital sky atlases and catalogs.