Back from the IVOA

I spent a few days in Trieste at the IVOA meeting. I saw some interesting talks, but I must say I was rather disappointed to listen to the introductory comments made by the Chair of the IVOA concerning the potential interest in KML/GoogleSky or for that matter WWT.

I am asking myself: how is it possible that the IVOA does not see the tremendous potential of these tools? How is it possible that they are "thinking" about this when next year is the "Year of Astronomy?" where they are going to get a large exposure? I am really stunned about the lack of vision and leadership in such an effort.

I am now in the situation of being at odds with so many in the NVO and IVOA that I think it's best for me to silently walk away from it all. I don't see the point of all of this anymore when there are no real developers working for astronomy and when it seems that at each step we need to reinvent the wheel.

My sentiment is shared my a large number of people in the IVOA (gaging from the private talks I had with many), but lots are still hopeful that something will happen.
As I said many many time, VO will happen, I have no doubt. I am just not willing to watch this chaotic efforts in random directions.

I hope WWT and GoogleSky will simply take over soon and add all those services that astronomers need and are not getting from NVO or the IVOA.


  1. Alberto, could you elaborate a bit ? What kind of services are you thinking about ?

  2. Well John... let's see for starters if we can convince WWT or Google to serve monochrome images and link to FITS, we can have them provide really fast, reliable SIAPs

    As for cone searches, well, if we can integrate catalogs into WWT and GoogleSky (possible in GSky already in some fashion) then we will simply have a tool that does SIAP + conesearch and really substitute any VO tool present at the moment... Best of all no user has to look at a VO table.

    Now, while this is cool, it has to be only the beginning. What about laying down apetures for proposal preparation and extracting all objects in that area, using a visual tool like WWT or GSky?

    To be fair, GSky allows much more advanced scripting than WWT at this time, via KML.

    In Trieste, KML was only warmly received and, as many suggested, IVOA should have a member in the OGC to push the standard.

    VO should get into the mode of using what's out there instead of reinventing the wheel each time. We are lucky that we now have 2 providers of images at the moment that will allow for VO mashups: my take it that we have to take advantage of it instead of having this "sit back" posture.

    We need vision, leadership and action in VO. Anyone?