Astronomical Photographic Glass Plate Collection

Black and white image of Orion's belt and horsehead nebula
Section of plate B2312 (1888) showing Orion's belt and the horsehead nebula.

The Harvard College Observatory's Astronomical Photographic Glass Plate Collection (Plate Stacks) is the largest collection of its kind in the world. The core of the collection is over 550,000 glass plate negatives and spectral images, covering both the northern and southern hemispheres. The Harvard Plate Stacks make up over a century of irreplaceable scientific observations and represent the first full image of the visible Universe. Hundreds of women studied and curated the Harvard Plate Stacks while making discoveries of their own, but more often than not their work went unrecognized. The Center for Astrophysics is dedicated to understanding and undoing the erasure of these women’s contributions while advancing and enabling the creation of new knowledge using the Harvard Plate Stacks Collection.

Explore the Plate Stacks