Dioptrice Telescope Database: Adler Planetarium


The Challenge

The Adler Planetarium and Astronomy Museum was launching an ambitious project to catalog all telescopes made before 1775 that still exist in museums and private collections around the world. They had photos, scientific images, optical data, and historical and provenance information they needed to store in a coherent way for internal use, and also to make it accessible to the larger research community.

Our Solution

First we developed a custom database-driven website to help the Adler organize their data internally. Digital images and other files are easily attached to entries, technical data is imported from spreadsheets, and each entry is tracked from initial draft to final approval by a senior researcher. Then we built a public site for use by researchers around the world, allowing them to easily collaborate and build on the existing research.


Instead of a mess of spreadsheets with data, portable hard drives with pictures, and a pile of Word documents with historical research, the Adler has one centralized repository that is easily accessible from anywhere in the world. Adler staff in the field can make quick updates, and researchers at other institutions can benefit from immediate access.