Is a Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO) star catalog, 4 volumes, dated 1977, worth keeping in a library or is it too outdated? Can it be used for epoch 200?


Before answering, please see our policy on resource recommendation questions. Please write substantial answers that detail the style, content, and prerequisites of the book, paper or other resource. Explain the nature of the resource so that readers can decide which one is best suited for them rather than relying on the opinions of others. Answers containing only a reference to a book or paper will be removed!

closed as primarily opinion-based by Danu, ACuriousMind, user36790, Kyle Kanos, Gert Feb 1 '16 at 2:06

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ It totally depends on your use for it. For data reductions acceptable by the scientific community, no, you should be using a current catalog. For casual use, especially if you appreciate using bound paper, you will enjoy it. How will you be using it? $\endgroup$ – Sonia Apr 4 '12 at 16:24
  • $\begingroup$ Are you asking as a scientist for a personal library, or as a science librarian? If it's for personal use, I'd say ditch it ... if it's for a science library, I'd probably keep a copy for archival reasons, but ask the folks on PAMNET what they think. $\endgroup$ – Joe Apr 19 '12 at 16:39

Those old star catalogues will still be valuable when they are out of time. Because stars moves too slow to be perceived during a human life. With these old records astronomers can measure stars' proper motions and calculate their distances much easier.

But if you mean those heavy dusty books, it depends. Such catalogues have complete online records (for the SAO, you can find it here). Researchers just search the database when they need it. So seldom people check these books. In my opinion, they have historical significance, but don't worth the space on your bookshelf.


If you are referring to the printed copy of the catalogue then I wouldn't worry much to preserve it. Unless there is something catastrophic happens and we loose our access to any electronic form of information then you could safely discard it since as gerry points out we have an online copy at our disposal.

Other thing is the usefulness of the catalogue. Every single measurement can at some stage be useful for some type of research. In my experience some of the early measurements could be invaluable in the line of episodic event study.

  • $\begingroup$ They did produce a 16volume bound edition of the Hipparcos project catalogue "just in case". I don't know how many copies they actually sold though! $\endgroup$ – Martin Beckett Jun 8 '12 at 22:00