AAS 204th Meeting, June 2004
Session 78 Informal Astronomy Programs
Poster, Thursday, June 3, 2004, 9:20am-4:00pm, Ballroom

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[78.05] The Digital Universe Coalition: Building a Prototype NVO E/PO Portal

B. Mendez, N. Craig (UC Berkeley), B. Haisch, J. Lindblom (ManyOne Network), R. Hanisch, F. Summers (STScI), B. Abbott (AMNH/Hayden Planetarium)

The National Virtual Observatory (NVO) holds tremendous potential for Education and Public Outreach (E/PO) opportunities. The possibilities for E/PO with the NVO, which promises to make widely available the great majority of the world’s astronomical data, are too numerous for any one E/PO effort to ever hope to develop. Therefore, it is critical that the NVO E/PO program develop an infrastructure and tools flexible enough that any E/PO program can make use of it. In response to the recommendations of the NVO science definition team, UC Berkeley’s SEGway program conducted needs assessment surveys of potential non-traditional (i.e. non-scientist) NVO user communities. The SEGway team wished to use the results of these surveys to design a demonstration website that could show some of the potential capabilities of NVO E/PO. SEGway established an informal partnership with STScI, AMNH/Hayden Planetarium, and ManyOne Network to explore how to assemble the infrastructure and tools for NVO E/PO and to construct a demonstration portal that makes use of NVO resources. We called this partnership The Digital Universe Coalition. This prototype displays AMNH/Hayden's Digital Universe star catalog of approximately 100,000 stars, based largely on HIPPARCOS parallaxes, in a virtual three-dimensional space. Three types of user-interactive data display and/or navigation are possible: an Earth-based view of the sky with the option of displaying constellations; a spaceship-based view moving through space; and a “god’s-eye” view of the local neighborhood from an external vantage point. One key feature of this demo is the linking of user-selectable locations in the sky to the online Digitized Sky Survey data sets. A second feature is a set of links for educational content on a handful of selected objects. Both of these capabilities will be extended further as we plan to begin development of a much more robust and complete E/PO portal for the NVO.

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