Rob Seaman chairs the Working Group on Time Domain Astronomy of the International Astronomical Union, and is a member of the IAU WG on Coordinated Universal Time. Rob was an organizer of two international colloquia in 2011 and 2013 on the Future of UTC as well as the Future of Time, held at the 223rd meeting of the American Astronomical Society. A symposium, The Science of Time, is in the works for 2016 at Harvard.
Rob has worked on issues of time and time domain astronomy for many years. He has a Physics MS and served as the Five College’s representative at the Wyoming Infrared observatory. A career in astronomical software engineering began with WIRO’s transition from PDP-11 FORTH to Masscomp “dual universe” (BSD+SysV) telescope and camera control. Rob’s port of the astronomical Image Reduction and Analysis Facility software to Masscomp Unix led to a position with the IRAF group at the National Optical Astronomy Observatory in Tucson, Arizona, where he has been ever since. He is privileged to have worked on many wonderful project teams over the years, including receiving the NOAO Excellence Award in 2003 and the AURA Outstanding Achievement Award in 2013.
Mr. Seaman’s diverse project portfolio focuses on autonomous infrastructure and rapid response observing modes. He chairs the series of meetings, Hot-wiring the Transient Universe, and co-chairs the Observatory Operations conference of the International Society for Optics and Photonics (SPIE). He was chair of the Working Group on Celestial Transient Events of the International Virtual Observatory, and is lead author of the VOEvent standard for time-critical notifications. Rob was Y2K lead at NOAO and he has long been active in the debate over the continuing role of leap seconds in UTC.
Astronomy is an exploration of time varying phenomena across the universe. Thus precise and accurate time is always a requirement and esoteric issues of timekeeping are challenges for many projects. The astronomical community has always relied on network timekeeping, for instance with the adoption of NTP in support of asteroseismology and the introduction of precision NTP timestamps traceable from telescope to data archive. While the scope of time in astronomy is vast, reaching to the origin of time itself, this community’s dependence on reliable network time is not unique but provides needed context for all users of timekeeping infrastructure.
Rob looks forward to helping the NTF team reach even greater success.