University of Minnesota
School of Physics & Astronomy
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George Champine (M.S., Physics, 1959; B.S., Physics, 1956)


I am involved in an exciting project with the Harvard Astronomy Department to build the world’s fastest digitizer for astronomy negatives.

Harvard has the world’s largest collection of glass plate astrophotographs. The collection covers the entire sky from 1880 to 1980, when the image science changed from glass plate negatives to electronic imaging. Every point in the sky is captured 300 to 1000 times over the 100 year time frame. In order to make the collection more accessible to the astrophysics community, the decision was made to digitize the collection. Because the collection consists of 500,000 plates, commercial digitizers at 30 minutes per 14 inch by 17 inch plate were too slow. To complete the digitization in a reasonable time (five years), the decision was made to develop a digitizer that was 50 times faster than the best of the commercial digitizers. The development of the digitizer is now complete and it has met its design goals. Calibration is nearing completion and limited production digitization is now underway. Fund raising is in process to obtain the approximately $5M required to carry out the digitization of the 500,000 plates.