next generation of Sky in Google Earth

borne at borne at
Fri Jan 11 19:07:32 PST 2008

Hi all.  I had many(!) people ask me at the AAS meeting this week
if WWT and "GoogleSky" now make the NVO totally obsolete!!
I had to explain (once again) that the VO is the middleware
("It's the middleware, st*pid") that enables the whole thing...
SIAP, SSAP, TAP, etc. etc. etc.  The VO enables all kinds
of different interfaces and user interactions with distributed
astronomy information/data/metadata resources.  While we know
this, it is obvious that many members of the astro community
still are not sufficiently informed.  That's a challenge to us!

- Kirk

On Thu, Jan 10, 2008 at 11:47:03AM -0500, Carol Christian wrote:
> Folks
> At the last NVO (or VAO) telecon I was on we discussed the meta-tags again 
> especially those now put forward by
> the VAMP group. The Office of Public Outreach and I have been working with 
> the VAMP group for years, and as you
> all know the meta-tag project for data, multimedia, and educational 
> resources originated and was implemented
> in the 1990s with the NASA  Space Science infrastructure.
> I would like to see the meta-tag issue get more VAO attention and be 
> embraced by the VAO and the larger IVOA community.
> We folks involved in education continue to move ahead on this.
> The ability to put the meta-tags in KML (which is possible) and to use them 
> effectively (which has yet to be seen)
> will certainly help public access, and I am sure, help with the "keyword 
> searching" interfaces and standards
> that the NVO team is working on.
> Cheers
> Carol
> On Jan 10, 2008, at 11:36 AM, Alberto Conti wrote:
>> Carol and I have been asking Google to make KML modifications in the 
>> direction you propose for a long long time. Now that KML does indeed seem 
>> to be an interesting tool and that Microsoft has entered the game, I think 
>> we can collectively put pressure on the KML standard to be adapted and 
>> modified since we all recognize its potential over votables.
>> I will not even mention metadata, which has been and is my "broken record" 
>> of choice both with GoogleSky search abilities and the VO. I don't have a 
>> WWT beta to be able to make the same comment about it...
>> We suggested to the VO a much closer look at KML as soon as we started 
>> playing with Google Earth, over 2 years ago. We have suggested many many 
>> times that a true registry needs to be a metadata engine.
>> It's nice to see I am now not the only one "suggesting" anymore. :)
>> -A
>> On Jan 10, 2008, at 10:27 AM, Jonathan Fay wrote:
>>> While KML is a common denominator, unfortunately astronomy has not been 
>>> at the table at all for its definition so far. It needs to be a priority 
>>> to move KML to use astronomy friendly standards.
>>> Certainly it needs to move away from equirectangualar projections for 
>>> full sky and overlays to more astronomy friendly projections.
>>> Also astronomy coordinates systems and meta data need to be supported so 
>>> that KML can be used to support rich astronomy use, rather than just HTML 
>>> or text.
>>> I think this will take the VO community, Microsoft Research and the 
>>> Google Sky folks to push this together, otherwise the critical mass will 
>>> come from the Earth based GIS folks and astronomy will continue to be 
>>> short-changed.
>>> Jonathan Fay
>>> Principal Research Software Developer
>>> WorldWide Telescope
>>> Microsoft Research
>>> -----Original Message-----
>>> From: owner-interop at [mailto:owner-interop at] On Behalf Of 
>>> Roy Williams
>>> Sent: Thursday, January 10, 2008 7:12 AM
>>> To: interop at
>>> Subject: Re: next generation of Sky in Google Earth
>>> Certainly it has been most interesting this week in Austin, watching
>>> Google and Microsoft slug it out at opposite corners of the convention
>>> hall. Each of these rich sky display software suites has its own best
>>> points and will be fabulous vehicles to ignite excitement about
>>> astronomy. I believe that the IVOA should be careful to engage both of
>>> these fabulous experiences, providing interfaces and bridges from all of
>>> our VO efforts.
>>> The common denominator between the two efforts is the KML language,
>>> whose definition is now dominated by the geospatial community. If KML is
>>> to become a standard interchange format in astronomy also, it would be
>>> good if the astronomical community had a seat at the table when future
>>> versions are defined.
>>> Roy
>>>> On Jan 10, 2008 5:32 AM, Tony Linde < Tony.Linde at
>>>> <mailto:Tony.Linde at>> wrote:
>>>>     'This morning at the American Astronomical Society in Austin,
>>>>     Texas, Google
>>>>     Engineering Director Andrew Moore announced a new version of Sky
>>>>     in Google
>>>>     Earth.
>>> --
>>> California Institute of Technology
>>> 626 395 3670
>> Dr Alberto Conti
>> Community Missions Office
>> Space Telescope Science Institute
>> contact | tel: 410-338-4534 | aim: wscience
> Dr. Carol Christian
> Deputy, Community Missions Office
> & Education Director, NVO
> Space Telescope Science Institute
> contact | Tel: 410-338-4764 | .mac: cac01

Dr. Kirk D. Borne
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, SSDOO Program Manager, Perot Systems (ex-QSS)
and George Mason University, Associate Professor, Computational & Data Sciences
<mailto:kirk.borne at>  Tel. +1-301-286-0696  Fax: 301-286-1771
Staff page:
US Virtual Observatory:
Large Synoptic Survey Telescope:

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