People involved


There are several objectives to this action:

  • Create a name resolver for observation facilities (ground based observatories and space missions)
    The Name Resolver is planned to be very similar to the SSODNet name resolver used for planetary bodies (see VESPA query portal for an example, and SSODnet API documentation). We will reuse the developments made in that frame at IMCCE. 
  • Promote a standard nomenclature for Observation Facilities
  • There are several lists of observation facilities and a need to be able to search for observation facilities, whatever alias is used. This means: being able to link those lists.
  • Help observation planning with provision of sky horizon elevations at each Observatory 
  • Related to that: find a way to generate automatically horizon from google API, or GIS ? Then users can edit it for fine tuning buildings etc. Maybe use something like the footprint editor?
  • Set up a database for amateur astronomer observatories
  • Extend the EPN-TAP core data model in order to be able to include observatories and share the 'list of observatories' (Matrix, database via EPN-TAP. The basis for the data model additions will be provided by VOFacility and VOResource definitions.

Work Plan



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  1. Just in case it's interesting with regard to this project...

    NAIF plans to create a set of "observatories" SPK and FK kernels, exactly the same as has already been done for DSN and many other comm stations. Once that is done, anyone using a SPICE based program, and this includes the Webgeocalc program, will be able to compute the locations of any solar system objects available via SPICE SPK kernels in the observatory's AZ/EL  (RA/DEC) coordinate system.

    The two challenges in this regard are these.

    1) I've so far been unable to find a reasonably comprehensive (extensive) list of observatories with known-to-be-accurate locations, including altitude above the geoid.  Of the databases I've found with a little bit of searching, only the USNO list comes pretty close, but the USNO says this list is not kept up to date.   Anyone have any ideas on where to find a comprehensive, accurate and well maintained list of observatory names/locations?

    (By the way, finding consistent observatory names is also a challenge.)

    2)  Assuming NAIF will be able to solve the above problem, a customer wanting to compute telescope pointing for a given body using Webgeocalc will be able to do so only for those objects for which the WGC database already contains an SPK. Not a problem for planets and their satellites, but there's no automatic way to have NAIF's instance of WGC get a hold of an SPK for a user-specified comet or asteroid out of Horizons or some other small body ephemeris system.  (Hmmm... maybe that's a new requirement on Webgeocalc!)

    Questions?   Comments?  Admonitions?



    1. Thanks Chuck!

      That's a very good comment. We will keep this in mind when we have your next telecon.

      I agree that is it very difficult to find a consistent list of observatories or spacecraft. Actually there is no consistent list (smile). And it is worse when coming to accurate location, indeed!