PARI launches astronomy legacy funding project

Press Release

From Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute:

(February 24, 2014) – The Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute (PARI) has initiated a crowd funding drive that will help make historic images of the night sky available via the Internet to the general public, scientists and students worldwide.

PARI is home to the Astronomical Photographic Data Archive (APDA), the national repository for photographic plates and films used by astronomers for more than 120 years to capture images of the universe. In recent years APDA has received collections from more than 40 North American institutions and observatories, with additional collections coming in regularly. These archives contain more than 220,000 images dating back to 1898.

“At PARI, we can access these plates on an individual basis,” said Science Director Dr. Michael Castelaz, “but to make them available via the Internet they must be scanned and digitized. We need to raise about $60,000 to acquire an extremely high precision, fast scanning machine, so we are turning to the public for help.”

For the fund drive, PARI has established an Astronomy Legacy account at Contributions of any amount can be made online, or contributors can contact Dr. Castelaz for more information at (828) 862-5554 or

“We are fully committed to digitizing 120 years of photographic films and plates, placing this treasure in your hands,” said PARI Vice President Dr. David Clavier. “Please help us bring the past 120 years of the night sky into the future. Contribute what you can: donations are welcome, posts are welcome, tweets are welcome, and your expertise and encouragement are welcome. You become a part of the Astronomy Legacy Project Team with your contribution – part of a legacy itself for generations to come. And remember, no donation is too small.”

About PARI
The Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute (PARI) is a public not-for-profit 501 (c) (3) foundation established in 1998. Located in the Pisgah National Forest 30 miles southwest of Asheville, NC, the PARI campus was selected in 1962 by NASA as the site for one of the first U.S. satellite tracking facilities. Today, the 200 acre campus houses radio and optical telescopes, earth science instruments, 30 buildings, a fulltime staff and all the infrastructure necessary to support STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education and research. PARI offers educational programs at all levels, from K-12 through post-graduate research.

PARI is home to the Astronomical Photographic Data Archive and a member of the NC Grassroots Science Museums Collaborative. PARI’s Exhibit Gallery displays a collection of rare meteorites as well as NASA Space Shuttle artifacts, many of which have flown in space. For more information about PARI and its programs, visit Follow PARI on Twitter at “Like” PARI on Facebook at

About Hayley Benton
Former Mountain Xpress staff reporter and Clubland editor. Former culture and entertainment reporter at the Asheville Citizen-Times. Current freelance journalist. Also a coffee drinker, bad photographer, teller of stupid jokes and maker-upper of words. I can be reached at Follow me @HayleyTweeet

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