this WAW Conference ... and More Generally on the WWW Practice
Strasbourg Astronomical Observatory, France
This introductory talk to the conference will deal with its
genesis and context, as well as with the work ahead and
various challenges resulting from the web culture and from
the electronic handling of information.
The Electronic Astrophysical
Journal Letters Project
Heather J. Dalterio, Peter B. Boyce, Chris Biemesderfer,
Archibald Warnock III, Evan Owens, Jim Fullton
AAS Executive Office, Washington, D.C.
The American Astronomical Society has developed a comprehensive system
for the electronic dissemination of refereed astronomical research results.
Our current focus is the production of an electronic version of the
Astrophysical Journal Letters. With the help of a recent National Science
Foundation grant, we have developed a system that includes: Latex-based
manuscript preparation, electronic submission, peer review, production,
development of a database of SGML-tagged manuscripts, collection
of page charges and other fees, and electronic manuscript storage and delivery.
Delivery options include World-Wide Web access through HTML browsers such as
Mosaic and Netscape,
an e-mail gateway, and a stand-alone client accessible through
astronomical software packages such as IRAF.
Our goal is to increase the access and usefulness of the Journal by
providing enhanced features such as faster publication, advanced search
capabilites, forward and backward referencing, links to underlying data
and links to adjunct materials in a variety of
mediums. We have based our journal on open standards and freely available
network tools wherever possible.
The Astronomical Information
Infrastructure from the End-User perspective.
Sake J. Hogeveen
Astronomical Institute, Utrecht University
Information Technology (IT) today has found so many applications in
astronomy, that we may speak of an electronic `Astronomical Information
Infrastructure'. At this moment, the AII is really nothing but a
collection of disparate services (network information systems,
distributed databases, software packages, etc.).
A look at the Astronomical Information Infrastructure, from the End-User
perspective, provides a good insight in some of its more general aspects:
The paper provides an extensive inventory of the End-User problems,
and hints at their solution by providing outlines for standardization,
and looking into the concept of the modular client-server system.
- `Distributed' systems (network information systems, distributed
astronomical databases) pose problems concerning their where-abouts
(how they may be `located'), and their continuity and stability
(will they still be here tomorrow, and what will they look like then?).
- Software packages, notably those for the reduction and analysis of
astronomical data, keep posing problems regarding their installation
- Electronic publishing will soon be extended to the electronic
distribution of astronomical journals. What will the electronic journal
look like, and when will we finally solve the submission problem of author
- The End-User is, more than any other party involved in the AII,
interested in the integration of services. AstroWeb now provides the
overview, but who is going to provide the integrated functionality?
Electronic Publication and Data Distribution
for the Star Formation Group
in the Five College Astronomy Department
Karen M. Strom
Five College Astronomy Department
The Star Formation Group at FCAD has begun to
make use of the World Wide Web to:
We here illustrate the first results of this effort. The Herbig-Bell Catalog
of Emission Line Stars (Herbig & Bell 1988) and the Catalog of Herbig-Haro
Objects (Reipurth 1994) have both been
translated into HTML and linked to the ADS abstract server, to each other,
to HTML versions of the Star Formation Newsletter (for abstracts
of newer papers) and to papers that are available on line.
Abstracts of pre-1960 references, many not easily available, have
also been placed on line and linked to these catalogs.
- explore the advantages of hypermedia presentations for the distribution
of preprints and observatory publications as a first step toward expanding
the definition of electronic publication;
- create hyperlinked catalogs of astronomical data which enable not
only the recovery of tabular data but instantaneous links to abstracts
of the associated reference material;
- create on-line catalogs of spectroscopic and image data.
The preprints of the Star Formation group are made available as the papers
are accepted. We will soon begin placing the Ph.D. theses online in
hypertext as well.
As a byproduct of this work, a method for displaying subscripts
using the minimum size and number of images has been developed. We plan to
package and release this set of images at the time of this conference.
A page organizing access to these services is available at:
Utilizing Dynamic Form Generation
and Image map Techniques to Construct an Interface to an Astronomical
and Geophysical INGRES Database
B.N. Dorland (1),
W.A. Snyder (1), R.D. Jones (2),
S. Heinicke (2), and
D. Becker (3)
(1) Hulbert Center for Space Research, U.S. Naval Research Laboratory
(2) Hughes STX
(3) Massachusett Institute of Technology
The Backgrounds Data Center (BDC)
, located in the Space Sciences Division
(SSD) of the
Naval Research Laboratory (NRL),
is the designated archive for celestial and earth backgrounds data collected
by Ballistic Missile Defense Organization
science research programs, including the upcoming Midcourse Space Experiment
(MSX) data set.
We extract and populate relational database catalogs with
metadata and these catalogs to locate
archived data products which our users request. The advent of Jason Ng's
(NCSA) GSQL protocols have allowed us to construct World Wide Web interfaces
to our catalogs, greatly improving their utility to users. We have modified
these scripts to work with our INGRES RDBMS.
We have enhanced the standard GSQL interface by incorporating
the use of "on the fly" form and graphical image construction. With
dynamic forms, users generate their own forms by pre-selecting those query
parameters they wish to use to search on databases. Users can also select
query complexity ranging from rank novice to direct interaction with Standard
Query Language (SQL). Dynamic image mapping adds a graphical layer to the
interface, and permits users to select data by interacting with images only.
These techniques allow for an uncluttered and intuitive representation of the
catalog databases to users.
Efficient information access in an on-line image archive.
Institute of Astronomy - ETH-Zentrum
Development in high-speed computer networks have increased
possibilities of world-wide information exchange. Although text is the
most used information transmitter, many research domains, and in
particular astronomy, deal with a high quantity of two- or multi-
dimensional data sets (which I will call "images"). As modern
astronomical instruments are getting more and more sensitive,
tremendous amounts of data can be recorded. It will soon be usual to
deal with recording rates in the order of GBytes/day. However, such
observational improvements open new challenges in making data
accessible in a reasonable (searching or browsing) time. It implies a
clear structuring (or classification) of the archive content. Moreover,
"symbolic" image representation must be used to browse quickly among
images. I call these representations "image icons" and will focus on
their use in this presentation.
We propose to use image icons to make large amounts of observations
available on-line without having to transmit excessive quantity of
bytes through the network. Image icons are different from normal size
reduction algorithms (as integration, or nearest-neighbour) by the
facts that (1) they can "localize" in a way the most important
information in an image; (2) they need not be decompressed before being
displayed and (3) they (lossy) compress large images efficiently and
Practically, images icons are constructed by considering data density
in the parameter space of the original image. Basically, the bitmap is
parametrized and regions with constant data density are built. The
higher the data density, the smaller the region representing it. By
displaying in a browser (like Mosaic) only a subset of these regions,
the amount of data to send through the network during browsing is
reduced and no decompression is needed from the client.
We are currently implementing such a browsing interface to facilitate
local and international access of the Zurich solar radiospectrogram
archive (see http://mimas.ethz.ch/)
which contains at this stage about 11 GBytes of solar radio observations.
Library Services and the Web
Traditionally the astronomy librarian's role has been to 1) select, collect and
maintain the materials needed by observational astronomers and/or theoretical
astrophysicists to pursue their research; 2) to organize the materials in such
a way that they are easily accessible and retrievable; and 3) to help library
users locate the information they need.
The advent of computerized information systems hasn't really changed the
librarian's role described above; but it has surely changed the materials we
select, whether or not we collect them, and
how we maintain our
links to this information. Computers in libraries have also changed the
methods we use to retrieve information, and
the kind and amount of
instruction we must provide our users.
This paper will examine how, in a very short time, the World Wide Web has
revolutionized astronomy libraries, and will continue to do so as the
"electronic" versions of our traditional "books and journals" become more
widely available and more accepted by library users.
Offering an astronomical library on the Internet: the OAT
Osservatorio Astronomico Trieste
The remarkable development of the Internet has made the sharing of
bibliographic information possible worldwide. With this aim, OAT has developed
a library access system based on number of the more widely used network
information retrieval tools (WWW, WAIS) integrating them with the automation
system already in existence (CDS-ISIS).
The Astrophysics Data System Abstract and Article Services.
G. Eichhorn, C.S. Grant, S.S. Murray, M.J. Kurtz
firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org,email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory
The ADS Astrophysics Science Information and Abstract Service (ASIAS)
is enhancing its presence on the WWW by incorporating additional
sources of abstracts and making available online journal articles.
In order to provide a more complete coverage of our abstract database,
we have started using several sources of astronomical references,
including NASA/STI, SIMBAD, author abstracts obtained directly from
journals, and individual contributions. We are also planning to
include abstracts from other subject categories loosely related to
astronomy (such as spacecraft instrumentation and communication satellites).
Our article service, currently providing full-text papers of
the Astrophysical Journal Letters from 1975 to date, will be greatly
expanded to include most of the major astronomical journals, creating
one of the first implementations of a digital library for astronomers.
Information Center on the Web
Richard S. Bogart and Karen Tian
The Solar Information Center (SIC), under development at Stanford University,
provides a Web entry point to a range of services specific to the Solar
Physics research community. A key design goal is to allow its databases
to be filled and maintained by users with a minimum of central management.
The SIC provides four basic information services: SolarData, SolarMail,
SolarNews, and a Bulletin Board. SolarData, designated as the Solar Physics
discipline node for the NASA Space Physics Data System, is a community-based
active catalogue for solar data archives. Institutions and individuals
are free to register any publicly accessible data holdings, and users are
provided a quick query service to locate data of interest from among the
registered sets. SolarMail is a widely-used electronic mail forwarding
service and personal information database for Solar Physics, and the SIC
allows users to interactively open and maintain accounts and to query the
database. SolarNews is an electronic newsletter for the Solar community
produced in cooperation with the Solar Physics Division of the American
Astronomical Society. It is distributed through SolarMail and the SIC
maintains an online archive. Non-archival announcements can be posted
freely to a community Bulletin Board on the SIC.
Solar Oscillations Investigation on the Web
Karen Tian, Philip H. Scherrer and Richard S. Bogart
The Solar Oscillations Investigation (SOI) is an international project
to study the Sun's interior using data from the Michelson Doppler Imager
on the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) and the newly developing
techniques of the field of helioseismology. We have committed to
using the World Wide Web not only to provide information and public
data, but as an active tool for defining science objectives, planning
and conducting the mission operations and attendant data processing,
as well as distribution of data to team members. SOI is organized into
a number of Science Teams with responsibility for various aspects of
the mission. As the team members are widely dispersed geographically,
the Web will be used to provide them with operational views into all
aspects of the data flow from observations through the production of
organized calibrated datasets. The same tools will be available to
team members and guest investigators conducting individual science
Browsing through the HST and ESO archives using the Web
Benoit Pirenne (1,2), Bo Frese Rasmussen (1,2), Miguel Albrecht (2)
email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
(1) Space Telescope - European Coordinating Facility
(2) European Southern Observatory
We present WDB, a Web-based relational database browser developed to provide
easy, distributed access to HST and ESO archive catalogues and data. Using
standard traditional Web browsers, it provides an easy to use, form-based query
interface with most of the functionality of its predecessor: STARCAT.
This paper illustrates new ways of using astronomical catalogues, taking
advantage of the unique hypertext features and allowing easy context switches
with carry over of information such as query values. The multi-media features
of WWW are also well integrated with our PreView facility.
Using NIR tools for the interfaces to
the help and archive
systems at the TNG telescope
firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
Osservatorio Astronomico, Trieste, Italy
Astronomers using the TNG telescope may be confronted during their observing
runs with the need to access information, help files, or the archive system.
The current implementation of the help system for the TNG exploits a high
level of integration between WSS (the software controlling the telescope
and its instrumentation) and an HTML browser. Most interactive panels of
WSS have a help button pointing to a specialized URL; furthermore, there
is a high level of reciprocal control between HTML browser and WSS.
A section of the TNG archive will be hosted at the telescope. This facility
may be accessed to gather information on instrument response, trends,
calibration procedures, or to retrieve "standard" calibration files, used
to perform a suboptimal reduction of the acquired files for quick-look
purposes while taking another exposure. The user interface to the archive
at the TNG will be based on HTML browsers: prototype implementations have
already been tested.
The Sloan Digital Sky
Survey's Use of the Web
Don Petravick (1), Eileen Berman (1), Vijay Gurbani (1), Steve Kent (1),
Tom Nicinski (1), Ruth Pordes (1), Ron Rechenmacher(1), Gary Sergey (1),
Robert Lupton (2), Michael Richmond (2)
(1) Online Systems Department, Computing Division - Fermilab
(2) Astrophysics Department - Princeton University
Fermilab, as part of its Experimental Astrophysics program, is
collaborating in the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, and has major
responsibilities for the projects software and software engineering
practices. The survey will collect and reduce a 12 Tb, 5 - color image
of 1 / 4 of the sky, and collect one Million Spectra using a dedicated
2.5 m telescope at the Apache Point observatory in New Mexico. The
survey will start in 1995 and collect data for 5 years and the dataset
is expected to provide interesting science for 20 years.
At the start of the collaboration almost 3 years ago we established WWW
as THE method of information dissemination, code documentation,
application support and maintenance, and general Survey document
archives. The information and WWW servers are distributed over all our
There is an intrinsic necessity in this project to identify the
software and parameters used to process and analyse the data which
produce the scientific results. Towards this goal we have developed
for the collaboration a set of methods and standards, together with
tools to support their use. We have incoroporated the use of www/html
as part of this approach.
We present in this paper our methodology, infrastructure and toolkit
together with our ideas and dreams for the future. We currently use
RCVS/CVS and the Fermilab UPS family as well as www/html; we have
developed a powerful makefile driver and quality control scripts; we
are working on support for automatically inventorying, building and
checking the software and supporting data used in the execution of any