R. E. Jackson
Computer Sciences Corporation/Space Telescope Science Institute, 3700 San Martin Dr., Baltimore, MD 21218
Space Telescope - European Coordinating Facility, Karl-Schwarzschild-Str. 2, Garching b. Muenchen, D-85748 Germany
Centre de Données de Strasbourg, 11, rue de l'Universite, Strasbourg, F-67000 France
Strasbourg Astronomical Observatory, 11, rue de l'Universite, Strasbourg, F-67000 France
Mount Stromlo and Siding Spring Observatories, Private Bag, Weston Creek, A.C.T., 2606 Australia
Space Telescope - European Coordinating Facility, Karl-Schwarzschild-Str. 2, Garching, D-85748 Germany
D. C. Wells
National Radio Astronomy Observatory, 520 Edgemont Road, Charlottesville, VA 22903-2475
The goal of AstroWeb is to be the most complete, up to date, and useful listing of Internet accessible astronomical resources available anywhere. AstroWeb currently contains 1123 WWW, Gopher, WAIS, Telnet, FTP, and Usenet News resources, and 1235 Universal Resource Listings (URL's). As a value-added service, AstroWeb also provides: (1) one or more standardized Categories for each resource, (2) descriptive text for many resources, (3) searchable index of all resource information, (4) thrice daily search for ``dead'' or ``unreliable'' resources, and (5) the most complete listing of Astronomical resources. These value-added services set AstroWeb apart from other, more static lists of Internet resources.
AstroWeb is available at: ST ScI, NRAO, CDS, ST-ECF, and MSSSO. Each version is based on the same resource database, but each site has a different structure or format. For example, ST-ECF only displays the title and acronym for each resource, while ST ScI displays the descriptive text as well. Each site updates and formats their version daily from the central listing at ST ScI. Some sites, in addition, will have ``mirror'' copies of the other sites' versions.
On 1994 January 24, Jackson sent e-mail to Wells and Adorf suggesting that they collaborate rather than maintain separate resource listings. A standard interface file format was defined and some software tools were written. Additional members joined the AstroWeb Consortium and on 1994 April 6, AstroWeb was announced to the public via NCSA Mosaic ``What's New'' and several Usenet newsgroups.
Jackson, Wells, and Adorf noticed that they and others had created largely overlapping lists of Astronomical resources. New resources were being discovered every day and it seemed more productive to coordinate efforts and use a common master resource listing. From the early size and growth rate of the listing, it was also clear that standardized categories and search tools would be needed to allow the user to quickly find the desired resource. The volatile nature of URL's required that resources be frequently checked for ``aliveness'' in order to prevent the listing from accumulating ``pointers to nowhere''. Most importantly, it was a fun and useful thing to do.
To preserve the homogeneity and integrity of AstroWeb, the central listing at ST ScI can be edited only by AstroWeb Consortium members. However, we welcome comments, suggestions, new resources, corrections to existing resources, etc. from everyone. Consortium members can be reached via e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org There are also HTML forms available to: (1) add a Resource, (2) add a Personal Resource, (3) and submit a Correction.
Jackson, R., Wells, D., Adorf, H.-M., Egret, D., Heck, A., Koekemoer, A., & Murtagh, F. 1995,
A&AS, 108, 235
Adorf, H.-M., Egret, D., Heck, A., Jackson, R., Koekemoer, A., Murtagh, F., & Wells, D. 1994, ST-ECF Newsletter, 22