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Over 60,000 astronomical photographs were nearly ruined by a flood in the Harvard College Observatory, The Harvard Crimson reported Tuesday. The glass film plates date back to 1885, taken from various telescopes around the world.

The flood was caused by a burst pipe back in January, destroying much of the machinery contained within the observatory.

Fortunately, Harvard faculty recently confirmed that the photographs would be recovered, despite minor damage from the muddy water. The restoration process will take up to one year, requiring each plate to be cleaned and safely stored.

The photographs are important to astronomers observing stars over long time periods, as this particular collection is over one hundred years old. While the scientific records are unique, Harvard plans to have every plate scanned and uploaded online. The collection contains over half a million records in total.

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