[TDA_wg] Outline of discussion at Hotwired IV

George Djorgovski george at astro.caltech.edu
Wed May 20 17:20:54 EDT 2015

Folks, for what it is worth, we went through the naming of events with the PQ survey, and continued with CRTS.  Since events - as opposed to objects with which they may be associated - are spatiotemporal things, we though that the naming should reflect that.  We came up with a clunky solution:

[survey][UT date]:[RA, Dec in J2000]

For example: CSS150520:132803+085623 is an event that was observed by the CSS survey on UT May 20, at those coordinates.  Given the typical surface density of transients, that is plenty unambiguous, and obvious extensions of a precision (time or coordinates) could be added if needed.

This format was designed to reveal the useful information, as opposed to the now prevalent XYZ15abc format, which hides most of the information, for example “can I observe it tonight?".  However, it is too clunky to say, so conversationally we would say, e.g., “we observed 150520”, because there aren’t too many interesting ones that get a lot of attention, but always use a full designation in the publications.  On the other hand, XYZ15abc is very easy to pronounce and remember.  

Even with the sources (not events) a common practice is to use nicknames, e.g., we would say “we observed SDSS 1435” instead of its full official name, SDSS J143507.47+132117.5, and in a given context everyone involved would know what we mean.

I guess we could have both, with a translation easy to find somewhere, e.g., 
CSS15pqr = CSS150520:132803+085623, which then may also get additional names, e.g., = SN2015xy
The long names are for the computers, the short ones for the humans, more or less.

It is probably safe to say that whatever the IAU decides, astronomers will do whatever they please…

Cheers, George

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