Astronomical surveys are the main source for discovery of astronomical objects and accumulation of observational data for further analysis, interpretation, and achieving scientific results. In 1940s-1950s Palomar Observatory Sky Survey (POSS, at present digitized as DSS1) gave more data that it was collected during the whole epoch of astronomical observations before. Similarly, Markarian Survey (or the First Byurakan Survey, FBS) was the first large-area spectroscopic survey resulting at low-dispersion spectra of 20,000,000 objects. Later on, many all-sky or large-area surveys appeared (POSS2 (DSS2), SDSS, etc.). Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) so far has provided the largest database (both photometric and spectroscopic) and SDSS-based virtual sky may be explored for new discoveries. CALIFA gives a new large set of spectra. Gaia and LSST are the next source for vast amount of information. Modern multiwavelength surveys include GOODS, COSMOS, GAMA, and others. The large amount of data requires new approaches to data reduction, management and analysis. We now deal with Big Data. Powerful computer technologies are required, including clusters and grids. Virtual Observatories (VOs) have been created to coordinate astronomers’ and computer scientists’ actions and help in accomplishment of complex research programs using all the accumulated data. International Virtual Observatory Alliance (IVOA) unifies 20 VO projects for joint efforts toward handling of Big Data and creation of an environment for more efficient research. The International Council of Scientific Unions (ICSU) has recently created World Data System (WDS) to unify data coming from different science fields for further possibility of exchange and new science projects.

A meeting “Astronomical Surveys and Big Data” dedicated to 50th anniversary of Markarian Survey and 10th anniversary of the Armenian Virtual Observatory (ArVO) will be held on Oct 5-8, 2015 in Byurakan, Armenia. We intend to combine astronomers and computer scientists with heavy involvement of astronomical surveys, catalogs, archives, databases and VOs.

Our meeting will contribute to the following:

  • Review and discuss large astronomical surveys to summarize observational data obtained in astronomy
  • Give tribute to Markarian Survey and other important surveys
  • Review and discuss astronomical catalogues, databases and archives
  • Learn about major upcoming surveys (including PanSTARRS, Gaia, and LSST)
  • Learn and discuss how large observational data sets are changing astronomy
  • Introduce tools and techniques for working with large data sets (including access, analysis, and visualization)
  • Discuss the future of astronomical research by joint efforts of astronomers and computer scientists
  • The Symposium is dedicated to Markarian Survey 50th anniversary. Benyamin Markarian (1913-1985) was the first to conduct and accomplish a large-area (17,000 sq. deg.) spectroscopic survey in 1965 to search for active galaxies. Markarian survey is until now the largest objective-prism spectroscopic survey, it was the first systematic search for active galaxies using a new method of UV-excess, it resulted in the discovery of 1515 UVX galaxies (Markarian galaxies), including many AGN and Starbursts, first classification of Seyferts into Sy1 and Sy2, and definition of Starburst galaxies. BAO is famous for other surveys as well: Arakelian and Kazarian galaxies, Shahbazian compact groups, Parsamian cometary nebulae and other objects also are well known. Byurakan is a right place for organization of such meeting.

    A number of important astronomical meetings have been organized in Armenia, mostly in the Byurakan Astrophysical Observatory (BAO): IAU Symposia: #29 in 1966 (Non-Stable Phenomena in Galaxies), #121 in 1986 (Observational Evidence of Activity in Galaxies), #137 in 1989 (Flare Stars in Star Clusters, Associations and Solar Vicinity), #194 in 1998 (Activity in Galaxies and Related Phenomena) and #304 in 2013 (Multiwavelength AGN Surveys and Studies), IAU Colloquium #184 in 2001 (AGN Surveys), as well as the all-European JENAM meeting in 2007. Moreover, the Byurakan International Summer Schools (BISS) are being organized since 2006, and four successful schools have been held in 2006, 2008, 2010 (combined with the 32th IAU ISYA), and 2012.