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AAVSO Joins Virtual Observatory VOEvents Stream

Its an old story that astronomy is being drowned in data and its only getting worse. We have needed a "central clearing house" of sorts and the Virtual Observatory aims to be one solution in this vein.

Astronomers have also experimented with various methods of alerting interested people as to events as they happen and when they need to be followed up on. This is the concept behind VOEvents.

VOEvents have both publishers and subscribers. The publishers can be anyone - an organization, or even perhaps an automated experiment or telescope. The subscribers can also be anyone - people interested in various events to keep up with what they're interested in, and even robotic telescopes who will subscribe to certain feeds and use that information to immediately follow up on the event.

The AAVSO was involved in VOEvents from the very beginning with Dr. Aaron Price participating in some of the first presentations on the subject. One of Doc Kinne's first AAVSO functions as a staff member was attending the National Virtual Observatory Summer School where he was "indoctrinated" into the vision of the Virtual Observatory.

Today, finally, the AAVSO formally joins other astronomical organizations and projects such as Swift and CBAT in publishing our Alert Notices and Special Notices to our own VOEvent stream. You can browse the events in our stream here, at Skyalert.org, the clearinghouse and major VOEvent publishing site.

Now that this initial project is done, we're looking at ways both to improve it, possibily add additional streams of data, and also begin to look at what could be done as a receiver of these data streams in order to enhance our observer's knowledge.

More to come, but a first exciting step has been taken. The AAVSO has "taken a first step into a larger world."

AAVSO 49 Bay State Rd. Cambridge, MA 02138 aavso@aavso.org 617-354-0484