The leading role of Astronomy in the development of inter- and multi- disciplinary sciences between Astronomy and all other natural sciences is explained in providing vast amount of new data from Space, namely data useful for the expansion of our knowledge that before was based only on the information collected on the Earth, in fact a tiny part of the studied Universe. This way Astronomy also becomes the key science for Big Data collection, storage, reduction, analysis and interpretation. All these data become basis for development of Astronomy related interdisciplinary sciences, such as Astrophysics, Astrochemistry, Astrobiology, Planetology, Astroinformatics, etc.
The large amount of data requires new approaches to data reduction, management and analysis. 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. The International Virtual Observatory Alliance (IVOA) unifies 21 VO projects, including the Armenian one, for joint efforts toward handling of Big Data and creation of an environment for more efficient research. Astroinformatics unifies a number of various fields related to Astronomy and Computer Science, such as Computational Astronomy, Astrostatistics, VOs, Laboratory Astrophysics, etc. 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, combination and new science projects.
The symposium will be devoted to the leading role of astronomy in science, culture and other fields of human activity and development of these fields due to the knowledge obtained from the Universe. In modern era, astronomy is probably the field of science, which plays the most important role in the formation and development of interdisciplinary sciences. Especially those scientists are encouraged to participate who work in astrophysics with heavy usage of knowledge from chemistry, biology, geology, and other sciences. The meeting is also aimed at the development of problems of interdisciplinary sciences and preparation of a basis for further possible collaborations by means of presentations of available modern knowledge in various areas by experts from different professions and by joint discussions. There also is transdisciplinarity, when results obtained in one science area may be implemented in other one and contribute to its development. An excellent example is the “tomography” of stellar clusters by V. A. Ambartsumian (derivation of 3D distribution of stellar velocities based on radial velocities and coordinates) used later in medicine and led to the creation of the computer tomography.
The Symposium is aimed at achieving better collaboration between all natural and social sciences with benefits for all of them. Particularly poor are the links between the natural and social sciences, and astronomy is exactly the science that may provide necessary background for new collaborations. Moreover, Astronomy also serves for development of the society, and Armenia hosts one of the IAU Regional Offices of Astronomy for Development (ROAD). In frame of this initiative, Scientific (Astro) Tourism and Scientific (Astro) Journalism are being developed and promoted.
The Byurakan Astrophysical Observatory (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 one of the greatest astrophysicists of the 20th century V. A. Ambartsumian and is well known for its large spectroscopic surveys: First and Second Byurakan Surveys (FBS and SBS), undertaken by B. E. Markarian and his 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, largest number in the world, which is the basis of the Armenian Virtual Observatory (ArVO), a member of the International Virtual Observatory Alliance (IVOA). In 2011, DFBS has been recognized by UNESCO a documentary heritage and has entered its list “Memory of the World”. BAO has several departments related to inter- and multi- disciplinary sciences, such as the research departments of Astrochemistry, Astrobiology and Exoplanets, High-Energy Astrophysics, Astroinformatics, and Archaeoastronomy and Cultural Astronomy.
BAO is famous for its meetings and summer schools. 6 IAU meetings (5 Symposia and a Colloquium) have been organized here in 1966, 1986, 1989, 1998, 2001 and 2013. The European Annual Meeting JENAM was organized in Armenia in 2007 with 8 parallel symposia and 6 special sessions. New initiatives and subjects were introduced here related to inter- and multi- disciplinary sciences. The first international conference on CETI was organized here in 1971. The conference “Relation of Astronomy to other Sciences, Culture and Society” was held in 2014. The international symposium “Astronomical Surveys and Big Data” (ASBD) was organized in 2015 with participation of astronomers and computer scientists and another such meeting (ASBD-2) is planned for 2020. An international conference “Astronomical Heritage of the Middle East” supported by UNESCO was organized in 2017. In 2020, Armenia will host the European Astronomy & Astrophysics journal board of directors meeting. In addition, there is a series of Byurakan International Summer Schools (BISS) that started in 2006 and already 6 such schools have been organized in 2006, 2008, 2010 (combined with IAU International School for Young Astronomers, ISYA), 2012, 2016 and 2018. We also have organized ESO-Byurakan International School on Observational Astronomy in 1987.
Since 2015, Armenia and BAO also host an IAU South West and Central Asian Regional Office of Astronomy for Development (SWCA ROAD). In frame of this initiative, a number of activities are being held, including regional workshops, conferences for young astronomers, summer schools, exchange of young astronomers, etc.