virtual observatory


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virtual observatory,

a collection of integrated astronomical data archives and software tools that utilize computer networks to create an environment in which research can be conducted. Several countries have initiated national virtual observatory programs that will combine existing databases from ground-based and orbiting observatoriesobservatory,
scientific facility especially equipped to detect and record naturally occurring scientific phenomena. Although geological and meteorological observatories exist, the term is generally applied to astronomical observatories.
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 and make them easily accessible to researchers. As a result, data from all the world's major observatories will be available to all users and to the public. This is significant not only because of the immense volume of astronomical data but also because the data on stars and galaxies has been compiled from observations in a variety of wavelengths—optical, radio, infrared, gamma ray, X-ray and more. Each wavelength can provide different information about a celestial event or object, but also requires a special expertise to interpret. In a virtual observatory environment, all of this data is integrated so that it can be synthesized and used in a given study.
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Enabling astronomers at their desktops to compare and study images of galaxies and stars over a multitude of wavelengths, the virtual observatory would permit researchers at a small teaching college or in a third-world country to make discoveries as easily as someone at Harvard or Princeton.
A virtual observatory won't replace telescopes--they are, after all, the devices that provide the data.
Szalay of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, were working on the concept of a virtual observatory.
The some 175 papers explore archives, cross-catalog matching, data analysis, education and public outreach, grid and grid virtualization, large observatory challenges, pipelines for ground-based and space-based instruments, scientific computing, software tools, solar astronomy, the virtual observatory, and visualization.
We are creating a virtual observatory for world biodiversity, where environmental observations, specimen data, experimental results, and sophisticated modelling can be done across all levels of biodiversity - from genes to ecosystems," said James Edwards, executive director of the Encyclopedia of Life, in a statement.
compile papers by an international group of librarians, astronomers, and information specialists regarding the Virtual Observatory, citation analysis for astronomy, open access, technologies beyond the Astrophysics Data System (ADS) and Google, creativity in libraries, preservation, the history of astronomy and astronomical archives, and e-journals and the changing publishing sector.
The 44 oral and 89 poster presentations cover large systems, archive architectures, time domain astronomy, visual applications, and the virtual observatory as the main themes.
The lectures topics include an overview of astronomical databases, space photometry and time series analysis, the virtual observatory, binaries as astrophysical laboratories, binary stars and their light curves, eclipsing binary stars, stellar pulsation, intrinsic variability in multiple systems and clusters, and pro-am collaboration and the AAVSO.
The papers demonstrate applications in the areas of algorithms and data analysis, handling data for the virtual observatory, the virtual observatory and data grids, data mining and analysis for the virtual observatory, data processing and analysis at great space observatories and ground-based observatories, data pipelines, and data archives.
Among the topics are an overview of the Gaia Mission, a wide-field telescope in northern Arizona, astrometry and the virtual observatory, extracting sub-milliarcsecond parallaxes from Hipparcos data, NASA programs, the future of astrometric education, and the current state of scientific imagers for astronomy.

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