Status Report

Andy Lawrence 2006-01-13

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This report is an update for both the Scientific Organising Committee, and the IVOA Executive. I would like the SOC to endorse the proposed speaker list.


Following the discussion at the last IVOA Executive meeting, I set up a small working group to carry forward the planning for the conference. This is made up of myself plus our usual interop meeting working group - Bob Hanisch, Francoise Genova, and Nic Walton. We had a telecon on 2006-01-11 at which we made a considerable amount of progress.


Nic is putting together a set of key dates, both those set by the IAU, and internal dates for our own planning. The most important ones are :

Feb 15   Planned readiness of conference web page
Apr 09   Deadline for application for travel grants
Jun 26   Deadline for submission of abstracts to IAU
Jun 26+ a few days ... SOC telecon to finalise abstract selection
Aug 17   Conference starts !


At the moment we only have our internal planning pages, on the IVOA twiki. We do however have a placeholder for a public web site. The URL is http://www.ivoa.net/pub/VOScienceIAUPrague. We have provided this URL to the IAU so that they can quote it in their literature. At the moment it re-directs to the Twiki planning pages.

The Working Group suggested that a simple but attractive and informative web page be set up to provide information and to promote the conference. It does not need to run a registration or abstract collection system, as this is handled by the IAU. It should not have fancy animations and so on, because as these can be demanding on bandwidth, and we wish the website to be as useful as possible to astronomers in all countries including those with poor network connections. (In the opinion of the working group they are also bad taste !) The main purpose of the web site will be to provide clear information. It is also however an opportunity for VO projects to provide some nice graphics.

The Working Group thought that the ESO/ESA team at Garching would do an excellent job of such a web site. I have asked Peter Quinn to lead this and he has agreed. The target date date for completion is February 15th.

There will not be a conference poster. Instead, we will promote the conference by email circulation drawing people's attention to the web site. This will be devolved to SOC and IVOA Exec members to circulate in as many countries as possible.


In November I reported that I had taken a poll amongst SOC members to decide on speaker invites, and that nearly all had said yes or probably yes depending on timing. Since then, Tony Tyson has also accepted. The current list is :

Catherine Cesarsky (ESO)  Large Facilities or Extragalactic Astronomy
Ian Foster (US) Grid Technology and/or IT and multidisciplinary science  
Gerry Gilmore (UK) Large Facilities
Ajit Khembhavi (India) Subject not yet defined
Konrad Kuijken (Netherlands) Survey Astronomy
Martin Rees (UK) Cosmology (needs to be near end of meeting)
Peter Quinn (ESO) Subject not yet defined
Alex Szalay (US) Subject not yet defined
Tony Tyson (US) Large Scale Structure or  Extragalactic Astronomy

All of the provisional subject titles are "and how the VO will help".

The working group recommended that the following further approaches be made :

Haryuki Okuda (Japan)   -  X-ray astronomy and more geographical spread
Frank Hill (US) - Solar Astronomy
Matt Mountain (US) - new Director of STScI

I would like the SOC to confirm these names are appropriate


With the speaker list shaping up, and the web site being prepared, we should revise the programme. Nic Walton and myself will do this over the next few weeks and circulate around the SOC for comments.


Selection of papers is organised through the IAU. The abstract server is already open for business and stays open until June 26th. Each SOC is then invited to review the submitted abstracts for their own conference and construct their final programme. I have already been given a password for the abstract server. (There is nothing on it yet !)

However, we should not of course leave paper submission to chance. When we make our announcements, and on the web page, we draw people's attention to how to submit papers. The deadline of June 26th is scarily late from the point of view of ourselves as organisers, as we need a better idea of how the programme is developing as soon as possible. The Working group suggested that the solution is that in our announcements we (a) ask people to submit abstracts as early as possible, so that we can begin to see what is coming in, and (b) ask people to please notify us (by email) of their intention. However we must not give people and impression this gives them a selection advantage.


We do not have a conference fund from which we can pay invited speakers or young scientists. There are two possible routes to financially support. Firstly, the IAU itself provides travel grants. However these must be applied for by April 9th - we must make sure likely candidates realise this, and so should advertise this prominently on the conference web page. Secondly, individual VO projects have funds which could possibly support people. It is probably best not to advertise this possibility on the conference web page, but rather to leave national projects to consider their own arrangements.


The IVOA will have a connected set of demonstration stalls, like in Sydney. We must consider whether to have co-ordinated promotional material, as we did in Sydney. Sessions at these demo stalls will be an advertised part of the conference programme. We will not try to have internet-live facility for conference talks, as this is too risky. However, speakers could plan specific scheduled demonstration events for particular pieces of software, and advertise these during the talks.

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Topic revision: r1 - 2006-01-16 - AndyLawrence
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