David Aguilar
(617) 495-7462

Christine Pulliam
(617) 495-7463


CfA Press Release


Cambridge, MA--Only four years after its inception, the Astrophysics Data System's (ADS) "Abstract Service" is being used on a daily basis by the majority of professional astronomers worldwide, creating a vast, virtual library of astronomical and astrophysical literature available, literally, at their fingertips.

Based at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO) in Cambridge, MA, and supported by funding from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the ADS provides artificial-intelligence-search capability for the world's astronomical literature with access to all but the most recent articles. It also includes links to on-line data services, such as the electronic Astrophysical Journal at the American Astronomical Society and the database of astronomical objects at the Strasbourg (France) Data Center.

The ADS Abstract Service contains almost 1 million references from astronomy and related disciplines, as well as the text of some 50,000 articles, drawn from major astronomical journals published in the past 20 years. The historical literature is now being scanned and will add another 50 to 100 years of journal coverage.

In addition, full journal articles can be read on-line using the ADS, thanks to the generous contribution of copyright permissions, back issues, and expertise from the majority of the publishers and copyright holders of the astronomical literature.

In a typical month, more than 10,000 different people use the ADS and retrieve more than 4 million references, as well as 25,000 articles--a usage greater than that reported by any conventional astronomical library anywhere in the world.

"Our statistics show that about half of all research astronomers worldwide use the ADS system every day," says Dr. Michael J. Kurtz, an astronomer at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO) and one of the ADS project principals.

"I expect the usage of the ADS to increase significantly over the next year because of the rapid completion of the journal articles database, our collaboration with the Science Citation Index, and e duplication of our database in France and Japan to provide faster access to our European and Asian users," says Dr. Gunther Eichhorn, project scientist of the ADS and principal developer of the Abstract Service, also at SAO.

The ADS is a founding member of Urania, a collaboration of journals, data centers, and individual scientists to provide a complete digital library environment for astronomy. The ADS itself was created in 1989 to provide access to astronomical data through the Internet. The ADS abstract service came on-line in early 1993 in collaboration with NASA's Scientific and Yechnical Information Program.

Other members of the ADS project team at SAO are Dr. Stephen S. Murray (principal investigator), Dr. Alberto Accomazzi (computer specialist), and Carolyn S. Grant (computer specialist).

Journals cooperating with the ADS to make articles available on line: Astrophysical Journal (USA), Astrophysical Journal Letters (USA), Astronomical Journal (USA), Astronomy & Astrophysics (Germany), Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society (Great Britain), Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific (USA), Proceedings of the Astronomical Society of Australia (Australia), Publications of the Astronomical Society of Japan (Japan), Revista Mexicana de Astronomia y Astrofisica (Mexico), Bulletin of the Astronomical Society of India (India), and Contributions of the Astronomical Observatory Skalnate Pleso (Slovakia).

Electronic access to the ADS Abstract Service is possible on the World Wide Web at: adswww.harvard.edu.

For more information, contact:

Dr. Guenther Eichhorn, (617-495-7260; geichhorn@cfa.harvard.edu)

Dr. Michael J. Kurtz, (617-495-7434; mkurtz@cfa.harvard.edu)

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