Blind date: Using proper motions to determine the ages of historical images

Jonathan T. Barron, David W. Hogg, Dustin Lang, Sam Roweis

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Abstract

    Astrometric calibration is based on patterns of cataloged stars and therefore effectively assumes a particular epoch, which can be substantially incorrect for historical images. With the known proper motions of stars we can "run back the clock" to an approximation of the night sky in any given year, and in principle the year that best fits stellar patterns in any given image is an estimate of the year in which that image was taken. In this paper, we use 47 scanned photographic images of M44 spanning the years 1910-1975 to demonstrate this technique. We use only the pixel information in each image; we use no prior information or metadata about image pointing, scale, orientation, or date. Blind Date returns date metadata for each input image. It also improves the astrometric calibration of the image because the final astrometric calibration is performed at the appropriate epoch. The accuracy and reliability of Blind Date are functions of image size, pointing, angular resolution, and depth; performance is related to the sum of proper-motion signal-to-noise ratios for catalog stars measured in the input image. All of the science-quality images and 90% of the low-quality images in our sample of photographic plate images of M44 have their dates reliably determined to within a decade, while 75% of our science-quality images have their dates reliably determined to within 3 years. This method has the potential to insert "lost" data into incomplete sets of time-domain imaging, improving constraints from historical data on transients, variable stars, stellar motions, and minor planet orbits.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)1490-1501
    Number of pages12
    JournalAstronomical Journal
    Volume136
    Issue number4
    DOIs
    StatePublished - Oct 1 2008

    Fingerprint

    proper motion
    metadata
    calibration
    stellar motions
    time measurement
    night sky
    astronomical catalogs
    photographic plates
    stars
    variable stars
    inserts
    asteroids
    angular resolution
    signal-to-noise ratio
    clocks
    pixel
    signal to noise ratios
    planet

    Keywords

    • Astrometry
    • Catalogs
    • Methods: statistical
    • Stars: kinematics
    • Techniques: image processing
    • Time

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Space and Planetary Science
    • Astronomy and Astrophysics

    Cite this

    Blind date : Using proper motions to determine the ages of historical images. / Barron, Jonathan T.; Hogg, David W.; Lang, Dustin; Roweis, Sam.

    In: Astronomical Journal, Vol. 136, No. 4, 01.10.2008, p. 1490-1501.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Barron, Jonathan T. ; Hogg, David W. ; Lang, Dustin ; Roweis, Sam. / Blind date : Using proper motions to determine the ages of historical images. In: Astronomical Journal. 2008 ; Vol. 136, No. 4. pp. 1490-1501.
    @article{866c2d75d5f841eca0d8b517d3407aef,
    title = "Blind date: Using proper motions to determine the ages of historical images",
    abstract = "Astrometric calibration is based on patterns of cataloged stars and therefore effectively assumes a particular epoch, which can be substantially incorrect for historical images. With the known proper motions of stars we can {"}run back the clock{"} to an approximation of the night sky in any given year, and in principle the year that best fits stellar patterns in any given image is an estimate of the year in which that image was taken. In this paper, we use 47 scanned photographic images of M44 spanning the years 1910-1975 to demonstrate this technique. We use only the pixel information in each image; we use no prior information or metadata about image pointing, scale, orientation, or date. Blind Date returns date metadata for each input image. It also improves the astrometric calibration of the image because the final astrometric calibration is performed at the appropriate epoch. The accuracy and reliability of Blind Date are functions of image size, pointing, angular resolution, and depth; performance is related to the sum of proper-motion signal-to-noise ratios for catalog stars measured in the input image. All of the science-quality images and 90{\%} of the low-quality images in our sample of photographic plate images of M44 have their dates reliably determined to within a decade, while 75{\%} of our science-quality images have their dates reliably determined to within 3 years. This method has the potential to insert {"}lost{"} data into incomplete sets of time-domain imaging, improving constraints from historical data on transients, variable stars, stellar motions, and minor planet orbits.",
    keywords = "Astrometry, Catalogs, Methods: statistical, Stars: kinematics, Techniques: image processing, Time",
    author = "Barron, {Jonathan T.} and Hogg, {David W.} and Dustin Lang and Sam Roweis",
    year = "2008",
    month = "10",
    day = "1",
    doi = "10.1088/0004-6256/136/4/1490",
    language = "English (US)",
    volume = "136",
    pages = "1490--1501",
    journal = "Astronomical Journal",
    issn = "0004-6256",
    publisher = "IOP Publishing Ltd.",
    number = "4",

    }

    TY - JOUR

    T1 - Blind date

    T2 - Using proper motions to determine the ages of historical images

    AU - Barron, Jonathan T.

    AU - Hogg, David W.

    AU - Lang, Dustin

    AU - Roweis, Sam

    PY - 2008/10/1

    Y1 - 2008/10/1

    N2 - Astrometric calibration is based on patterns of cataloged stars and therefore effectively assumes a particular epoch, which can be substantially incorrect for historical images. With the known proper motions of stars we can "run back the clock" to an approximation of the night sky in any given year, and in principle the year that best fits stellar patterns in any given image is an estimate of the year in which that image was taken. In this paper, we use 47 scanned photographic images of M44 spanning the years 1910-1975 to demonstrate this technique. We use only the pixel information in each image; we use no prior information or metadata about image pointing, scale, orientation, or date. Blind Date returns date metadata for each input image. It also improves the astrometric calibration of the image because the final astrometric calibration is performed at the appropriate epoch. The accuracy and reliability of Blind Date are functions of image size, pointing, angular resolution, and depth; performance is related to the sum of proper-motion signal-to-noise ratios for catalog stars measured in the input image. All of the science-quality images and 90% of the low-quality images in our sample of photographic plate images of M44 have their dates reliably determined to within a decade, while 75% of our science-quality images have their dates reliably determined to within 3 years. This method has the potential to insert "lost" data into incomplete sets of time-domain imaging, improving constraints from historical data on transients, variable stars, stellar motions, and minor planet orbits.

    AB - Astrometric calibration is based on patterns of cataloged stars and therefore effectively assumes a particular epoch, which can be substantially incorrect for historical images. With the known proper motions of stars we can "run back the clock" to an approximation of the night sky in any given year, and in principle the year that best fits stellar patterns in any given image is an estimate of the year in which that image was taken. In this paper, we use 47 scanned photographic images of M44 spanning the years 1910-1975 to demonstrate this technique. We use only the pixel information in each image; we use no prior information or metadata about image pointing, scale, orientation, or date. Blind Date returns date metadata for each input image. It also improves the astrometric calibration of the image because the final astrometric calibration is performed at the appropriate epoch. The accuracy and reliability of Blind Date are functions of image size, pointing, angular resolution, and depth; performance is related to the sum of proper-motion signal-to-noise ratios for catalog stars measured in the input image. All of the science-quality images and 90% of the low-quality images in our sample of photographic plate images of M44 have their dates reliably determined to within a decade, while 75% of our science-quality images have their dates reliably determined to within 3 years. This method has the potential to insert "lost" data into incomplete sets of time-domain imaging, improving constraints from historical data on transients, variable stars, stellar motions, and minor planet orbits.

    KW - Astrometry

    KW - Catalogs

    KW - Methods: statistical

    KW - Stars: kinematics

    KW - Techniques: image processing

    KW - Time

    UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=56449107776&partnerID=8YFLogxK

    UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=56449107776&partnerID=8YFLogxK

    U2 - 10.1088/0004-6256/136/4/1490

    DO - 10.1088/0004-6256/136/4/1490

    M3 - Article

    VL - 136

    SP - 1490

    EP - 1501

    JO - Astronomical Journal

    JF - Astronomical Journal

    SN - 0004-6256

    IS - 4

    ER -