November 2-5, 2008
ADASS XVIII Home > Conference Information > Bird of a Feather

Bird of a Feather

Bird of a Feather

ADASS XVIII will feature Birds of a Feather (BoF) sessions. BoFs are informal sessions created by attendees on topics of special interest.

Bird of a Feather Sollicitation

The ADASS Program Organizing Committee is soliciting proposals for Bird of a Feather (BoF) sessions for the ADASS XVIII. BoFs are informal sessions on topics of special interest to ADASS attendees. Once the list is compiled (in late September), the ADASS registrants will be surveyed to determine interest in each BoF topic; a final selection of BoFs that will be supported will be made shortly afterward, based upon available space and participant interest.

If you wish to organize a BoF at ADASS XVIII please send e-mail to:

that includes:

  • Name(s) and e-mail address(es) of the organizer(s)
  • Title of the BoF
  • A paragraph describing the structure and objectives of the BoF

The deadline for submission of this information is passed.

As there is limited space for BoF sessions, it is important that you clearly describe the purpose of the BoF, the relevance to ADASS, and how you will organize the BoF session. You may view descriptions of the proposed BoFs for this year via a link from the core page at:

This list will be updated periodically.

Thank you for your interest in ADASS!

B1: William Pence: FITS and the IAU FITS Working Group


This Birds-of-a-Feather session will present a summary of current activities related to the FITS data format and will provide a forum for the discussion of current issues. Main topics of discussion will be

  • a) Overview of the changes in the new FITS Standard document that was approved this year
  • b) Discussion of new conventions that have been submitted to the Registry of FITS Conventions
  • c) Review of progress in the past year on extending the World Coordinate Systems conventions to Time coordinate systems, and to describing distortions in idealized coordinate systems.
  • d) Open forum on any other FITS-related topics

B2: Rob Seaman: Architectures for Time Domain Astronomy


Rob Seaman - National Optical Astronomy Observatory
Alasdair Allan - University of Exeter
Francesco Pierfederici - Large Synoptic Survey Telescope
Roy Williams - California Institute of Technology


"Time discovers truth" - Seneca

Wonder at the changing sky predates recorded history. Empirical studies of time varying celestial phenomena date back to Galileo and Tycho. Telegrams conveying news of transient and recurrent events have been key astronomical infrastructure since the 1800s. For instance, they were among the first sent by submarine cable - to reach observatories widely distributed in longitude. Recent micro-lensing, SN and GRB studies have been key to a succession of exciting discoveries, but massive new time domain surveys will soon overwhelm our nineteenth century transient response technologies.

Meeting this challenge demands new autonomous architectures for astronomy. Architectures that reach from proposing new research, through experimental design and the scheduling of telescope operations, to the archiving and pipeline processing of data to discover new transients, to the publishing of these events, through automated follow-up via robotic and ToO assets, and to the display and analysis of observational results. All leading to adaptive adjustment of time domain investigations. The IVOA VOEvent protocol provides an engine for purpose built astronomical architectures.

B3: Michael Noble ( Parallel and distributed computing in Astronomy (waiting for confirmation)


From multicore desktops to massively parallel Beowulf clusters, astronomers have access to an unprecedented level of computing power. The aim of this BOF session is to build a sense of the high performance computing landscape in astronomy, by providing a forum for practitioners to collect, discuss their experience, and voice their perspective, irrespective of the languages, libraries, or hardware being utilized.

We will open by discussing the use of parallelism within what is perhaps the most common scientific activity in astronomy: modeling and analysis of observational data. Though a majority of papers published in observational astronomy result from fitting models within established software systems, few researchers employ parallelism to do so, especially in the interactive context. Subsequent presentations and discussion are invited for a broader range of topics, including but not limited to: parallel image processing, large-scale simulations and visualization, database and pipeline processing, et cetera.

B4: Mark H. Clark ( Engaging the Observer


In the past, the physical presence and direct interaction of the astronomer with an observatory's staff and telescope equipment encouraged understanding and responsiveness between both staff and observers. But now, observatories often face the problem of expediently exchanging information with observers. New observatory procedures and policies such as automated/remote/service observing, dynamic scheduling, data pipelining, or fully software-arbitrated telescope control provide for more efficient telescope use, but they have reduced the role of the observer to that of a customer rather than a partner in the process of observing. Topics for discussion will include scheduling, data quality, control interfaces, training and preparation for observing, and information distribution technologies, e.g., use of web sites, email, and RSS feeds.

B5: Mike McCarty ( Renaissance of the Web


The renaissance of the web has driven development of many new technologies that have forever changed the way we write software. The resulting tools have been applied to both solve problems and created new ones in a wide range of domains ranging from monitor and control user interfaces to information distribution. This discussion covers which of and how these technologies are being used in the astronomical computing community. Topics include JavaScript?, Cascading Style Sheets, HTML, XML, JSON, RSS, iCalendar, Java, PHP, Python, Ruby on Rails, database technologies, and web frameworks/design patterns.

B6: Mike Fitzpatrick ( Future Astronomical Data Reduction and Analysis Software


Robert Hanisch (STScI/NVO, moderator)
Mike Fitzpatrick (NOAO)
Perry Greenfield (STScI)
Preben Grosbol (ESO)
Jeff Kantor (LSST)
Chris Smith (NOAO)
Doug Tody (NRAO)


As next-generation telescope and instrumentation projects grow more complex, the software systems required by these projects require advanced next-generation capabilities to reduce and analyze the resultant data. Providing this capability will require new software and new paradigms for how astronomers interact with data, incorporating new technology as well as integration with VO, and the ability to leverage legacy software within these new systems. With major new telescope systems coming online over the next several years, a rare opportunity exits now to promote interoperability of multiple astronomical data analysis systems, to provide multi-wavelength analysis capabilities and greater functionality at less cost if such coordination is successful. Discussions of how such cooperative development might work in the real world are underway now within AURA, AUI, and the EU (OPTICON and others), with others welcome to participate as well.

In this BoF, representatives from current and future data analysis systems (IRAF, PyRAF, NRAO/CASA, OPTICON, LSST and VO) will give brief presentations on the status and plans for their systems as well as a view on how collaborative development might affect future evolution of their systems. A presentation on major issues such as scripting/command environments, science applications, systems software and user interfaces will be used to guide an open discussion about user community requirements and suggestions for how projects can be made to interoperate for the benefit of all.