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Proceedings Paper

A Relational Database Approach To Astronomical Research
Author(s): M. G, M. Cawson; J. T. McGraw; M. J. Keane
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Paper Abstract

A highly structured but extremely flexible database definition and interrogration system is described. This system is in daily use for reducing, archiving and evaluating data from the CCD/Transit Instrument (CTI) (McGraw et al. 1986, Cawson et al. 1986). Adopting a database system for managing observations and extracting scientific information from them has yielded many benefits of great use to astronomers: • a very few general purpose programs take the place of a multitude of special purpose programs, thus increasing reliability and reducing software effort and debugging time; • a powerful interrogation language allows interaction with the data in graphical forms and the definition of mathematical, relational and/or logical tests on the data during the interrogation as seems appropriate at the time; • the same command language can prompt for all parameters and supply 'reasonable' defaults making the database information easily accessible to collaborators who do not have to invest undue time 'learning the system'; • compatible databases can be produced, for instance to evaluate the structural properties of the telecope and the performance of the reduction software itself; and to test theoretical models using simulations, thereby unifying our engineering, software, theoretical and observational endeavors-in astronomy. Implications for the design of the future software systems for maintaining astronomical databases both at the national and at the individual astronomer levels are discussed. These impliations have the potential for radically changing the manner in which astronomers conceptualize their data.

Paper Details

Date Published: 13 October 1986
PDF: 9 pages
Proc. SPIE 0627, Instrumentation in Astronomy VI, (13 October 1986); doi: 10.1117/12.968074
Show Author Affiliations
M. G, M. Cawson, University of Arizona (United States)
J. T. McGraw, University of Arizona (United States)
M. J. Keane, University of Arizona (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 0627:
Instrumentation in Astronomy VI
David L. Crawford, Editor(s)

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