The unprecedented international situation with the virus pandemic is very worrisome, and a face-to-face meeting in September could potentially pose a health risk for attendees. After careful consideration, the SOC has decided to host the ASBD2 international symposium online. The event will still take place at the same dates from September 14 to 18.

The International Symposium Astronomical Surveys and Big Data 2 (ASBD-2) will take place on 14-18 September 2020 in the Byurakan Astrophysical Observatory (BAO), Armenia. This will be the 2nd such meeting; we had a very successful meeting ASBD in 2015 with participation of astronomers and computer scientists. We combined astronomers and computer scientists with heavy involvement of astronomical surveys, catalogs, archives, databases and VOs. In addition, on 18 Sep 2020, we expect the Official Award Ceremony of Viktor Ambartsumian International Science Prize 2020.

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 created World Data System (WDS) to unify data coming from different science fields for further possibility of exchange and new science projects.

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 current and 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
  • 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.

    BAO is one of the main observational centers of the former Soviet Union and is an important observatory with modern facilities in the region. It was founded in 1946 by the outstanding Armenian scientists V. A. Ambartsumian (1908-1996) and is well known for its large spectroscopic surveys: the First and Second Byurakan Surveys (FBS and SBS), undertaken by B. E. Markarian (1913-1985) and colleagues. BAO hosts a number of medium-size optical telescopes, the most important being the 2.6m classical telescope and 1m Schmidt telescope. BAO holds the Digitized First Byurakan Survey (DFBS, or the Digitized Markarian survey), containing low-dispersion spectra of ~20,000,000 objects, which has been included in UNESCO “Memory of the World” documentary heritage list and which is the basis of the Armenian Virtual Observatory (ArVO), a member of the International Virtual Observatory Alliance (IVOA). BAO and Armenia host the IAU South West and Central Asian Regional Office of Astronomy for Development (SWCA ROAD) and support the development of astronomy in Armenia, Georgia, Iran, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Turkey.

    A number of important astronomical meetings have been organized in Armenia, mostly in BAO: 6 IAU Symposia and Colloquia; 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 European Annual Meeting JENAM was organized by BAO in Yerevan in 2007. The first international meeting on Communication with Extraterrestrial Intelligence (CETI) was organized in Byurakan in 1971. We have organized a UNESCO Conference “Astronomical Heritage of the Middle East” in 2017. BAO-ESO Summer School was organized in 1987. The Byurakan International Summer Schools (BISS) are being organized since 2006, and 6 successful schools have been held in 2006, 2008, 2010 (combined with the 32th IAU ISYA), 2012, 2016 and 2018. The 7th one will be held just before the ASBD-2, on 7-12 Sep 2020. Many other meetings and schools have been organized as well.