PROPOSAL FOR AN IAU COLLOQUIUM
Draft version 2.0 10/12/2004
The actual proposal is completed via a web-form at the IAU web-server, together with a link to a
document containing. the scientific rationale and draft programme. This draft is a word document
that follows the structure of the IAU Web Form and appends an outline of the scientific rationale
and draft programme.
The Virtual Observatory in action : new science, new technology, and next generation facilities.
(2) Date and duration:
2006-08-14 or 2006-08-21 duration 3-5 days .. still under discussionb
(4) Coordinating IAU Division:
Division XII "Union Wide Activity"
(5) Proposing Commission:
IAU Commission 5 "Documentation and Astronomical Data"
(6) Supporting Commission(s):
Hoping for support letters from
C9 Instrumentation and Techniques
C40 Radio Astronomy
C44 Space and High Energy Astrophysics
and in addition from
WG on Surveys
WG on solar data access
WG of the Executive on Large Scale Facilities
(7) Other ICSU body co-sponsoring the meeting, if any:
may approach CODATA; other bodies being considered
(8) Other supporting organisations, if any:
approaches being considered to NSF, NASA, ESO, ESA, PPARC
(9) Contact address:
Institute for Astronomy, University of Edinburgh
Royal Observatory, Blackford Hill, Edinburgh EH9 3HJ
E-mail: [email protected]
(10) Proposed Scientific Organising Committee
Below is the current proto-SOC. This is likely to evolve as we develop interest from
various commissions, but is currently the body of people actively developing the
Head of School of Physics, University of Edinburgh.
Project Leader of AstroGrid project. PI of UKIDSS IR sky
survey project. Current chair of International Virtual
National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, Tokyo,
Japan. Leader of Japanese Virtual Observatory project.
Current deputy-chair of International Virtual Observatory
Director of CDS, University of Strasbourg, France. Leader
of France-VO initiative. President of IAU Commission 5.
Deputy Director of the Australia National Telescope
Facility, Australia. Vice-President of IAU Commission 5.
Astronomical Institute, Charles University, Prague, Czech
Republic. High energy astrophysicist. Proposed chair of
Local Organising Committee.
Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, USA. Project
Manager of US National Virtual Observatory Project.
Head of Data Management Division, European Southern
Observatory, Garching, Germany. Overall leader of EuroVO programme.
Department of Physics and Astronomy, The Johns Hopkins
University, USA. Leading cosmologist on Sloan Digital
Sky Survey Team. PI of US National Virtual Observatory
Institute of Astronomy, University of Cambridge, UK.
Specialist in time variable astronomy. Project Scientist for
UK AstroGrid project.
Institute of Astronomy of the Russian Academy of
Sciences, Moscow, Russia. Leader of Russian Virtual
Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics,
Pune, India. Expert in quasar studies. Leader of Indian
Virtual Observatory project.
Center for Advanced Computing Research, California
Institute of Technology, USA. Distinguished computer
scientist and Technical Lead in the International Virtual
Chandra Science Centre, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for
Astrophysics, Cambridge, USA. Specialist in X-ray studies
of galaxies. Led Chandra science software development.
Giuseppina Fabbiano USA
(11) Proposed Local Organising Committee:
[email protected] 420-
(12) Proposed Editor(s) of the Proceedings:
Andy Lawrence : Chief Editor
other likely editors : Williams, Walton
(13) Expected or maximum number of participants:
Under discussion; approx 250
(14) Registration fee:
Under discussion. possibilities :
Transportation from airport to hotel;
from hotel to/from conference;
coffee breaks, lunches ;
hire of conference facilities and audiovisual facilities;
(15) Expected price of 2-3 categories of hotels and/or other accommodations:
to be completed later
(16) Amount requested for travel support from the IAU:
likely to ask for maximum amount : 25000 CHF
(17) Topics in the Preliminary Scientific Programme (max. 10 lines):
(For announcement in the IAU Information Bulletin)
The list below is a preliminary list and is likely to evolve between now and January as we begin
discussion with interested parties.
- Cosmology and Galactic Structure with very large databases
- Rare object multi-wavelength searches : the universe at 10 pc and z=10
- Serendipitous discoveries with the VO
- The Earth-Sun connection
- Population analysis : stars, galaxies, and quasars
- Data mining with SDSS, WFCAM, VISTA and the LSST
- Data management for ALMA, ELT, GAIA, and SKA
- Technical progress on the VO infrastructure
- New data mining algorithms
- The semantic web and the future VO
(18) Detailed scientific rationale and draft programme.
draft appended below.
will be installed on IVOA wiki
(18) Statement on confirmation of ICSU policy on freedom of attendance.
Form of words to be drafted. As well as the usual warm words about standard policy, this is an
excellent opportunity to plug the democratic strengths of the VO. It will open up facilities to
disadvantaged scientists. Facilities in Mumbai will be just as good as those in Caltech.
The VO is fundamentally aligned with the ICSU position in breaking down the "digital
(20) President of Co-ordinating IAU Division
Professor Virgina Trimble
The Virtual Observatory in action :
new science, new technology, and next generation facilities.
(Early draft words based largely on the Letter of Intent, Sept 1st 2004).
The vision of the Virtual Observatory (VO) is to make access to astronomical databases as
seamless and transparent as browsing the World Wide Web is today. It will federate the data
flows from current and future facilities and large scale surveys, and the computational resources
and new tools necessary to fully exploit them. This requires both technological developments and
an international committment to standardisation and working culture. Increasingly, it will alter the
way that astronomers do science, and the way that future facilities and projects plan for their data
management, and the scientific exploitation of their data. It will make an impact on a wide variety
of astronomical topics, but especially those using very large databases, and those needing a multiwavelength approach, or more generally the use of multiple archives.
To date, there are fifteen VO projects worldwide, who co-ordinate their efforts through an
International Virtual Observatory Alliance (IVOA). This body evolves and agrees technical
standards as well as sharing best practice and software. It is widely regarded as a strikingly
successful example of international co-operation, and was highlighted as such in the recent
OECD report on future large scale facilities in astronomy. The various VO projects have laid the
foundations for the VO - international standards, fundamental infrastructure, early
demonstrations, and the first published science papers using VO tools - and we expect the next
few years to see the VO gradually becoming a working reality. The next stages will involve (i)
deployment of the new infrastructure at data centres, (ii) science results using VO tools, (iii)
making links to existing and planned facilities, and (iv) much more ambitious data mining
analysis services. We feel that the time will be just right for an IAU Symposium.
After some early specialised technical conferences at Caltech and ESO during 2000 and 2002, the
first international exposure to a general astronomical audience was at a Joint Discussion held as
part of the IAU General Assembly at Sydney in July 2003. By 2006 we believe that the maturity
of the subject, the expected scientific results using new tools, and the importance of the
infrastructure to expensive new facilities, make a scientific Symposium attached to the IAU in
2006 an attractive idea.
Astronomical developments also make this a fruitful prospect. Several major sky survey projects the SDSS, WFCAM/UKIDSS, VISTA, and the LSST - will cover the full range from mature
archive, through hot new live database, to imminent creation. It is widely acknowledged that the
huge volume of these databases, and the need to match them to other data sources to make sense
of the objects in them, requires the VO infrastructure for their full exploitation, and we expect to
see major advances in cosmology, quasars, and stellar astronomy emerging. More widely, the
increasing push to multi-facility science, combining radio, X-ray and optical data, or combining
solar and space plasma observations, should be leading to exciting new results. Finally, plans for
major new facilities, such as ALMA, GAIA, ELT, or SKA, will be developed explicitly with the
new infrastructure in mind.
Our aim therefore is to bring together an exciting blend of new science results, plans for major
facilities, and discussion of technical advances in data mining and the VO.
This is an early draft and will evolve as discussions begin with interested parties. The technical
sections are probably fairly clear but the scientific sections will probably become broader,
including galaxies and star formation for example. The areas below are those where we already
expect the VO to be having a significant impact.
Session-1 Introductory Reviews
Session-2 Results and prospects from Sky Survey programmes
Session-3 VO technical advances and Data Mining Algorithms
Session-4 Posters and Demonstrations -1
Session-5 The Sun-Earth connection
Session-6 Cosmology and Quasars
Session-7 Large scale facilities and data management
Session-8 Posters and Demonstrations - 2
Session-9 The VO and outreach
Session-10 Galactic Structure and extreme stellar populations
Session-11The future of the VO
Scientific and technical sessions will be carefully interspersed. The sessions are not necessarily of
Poster papers will be strongly encouraged, so that oral talks can be of a more general nature, and
given plenty of time for discussion. Special sessions will be allocated for viewing and discussion
Throughout the IAU, the main international VO projects will establish stalls showing the current
VO infrastructure in action. During the Symposium, these stalls will also run continously, but we
will also schedule sessions with organised "walk-throughs" of software and science results. These
will be combined with poster sessions and will also be relaxed social occasions.
We aim provide a number of travel grants to enable young or financially disadvantaged scientists
to attend the conference.
Selection of high profile guest speakers will be an important part of creating the correct
atmosphere for this conference. We will concentrate on speakers with relevant science results
rather than "insider" VO specialists. We will also however schedule at least one authoritative
introductory VO review. A keynote speaker will start each session.