Friday, September 26, 2008

An ADS to KML mashup

The idea of ADS to KML came up over morning coffee on the last day of the .astronomy meeting, and by the close of the conference I had most of it hacked together...

Publications for Allan, A. as KML

What am I talking about? A lot of papers on ADS now have links to the SIMBAD database for further information on the objects they discuss. For instance I was recently a co-author on an exo-planet paper which links to the relevant objects in SIMBAD...

The mashup at that point was obvious. Do an ADS query and look for all the papers with links into SIMBAD, then do a series of follow-up queries on SIMBAD and grab all of the objects mentioned in the papers. Then generate a KML file of your publication history, which you can either display directly in Google Sky, or embed into a Google Maps for Sky as I've done above.

Of course not all papers reference objects, and not all papers with objects have SIMBAD links, especially older papers. None the less, having run my script to generate a KML file for several colleagues now it actually gives a fairly good representation of their research interests.

You can grab the perl source code and have a play around with it yourself, you'll need my Astro::ADS module which you can grab from CPAN.

You could imagine several ways to extend my quick hack. If you had a large enough group of astronomers, and therefore a large enough number of papers, you could produce heat maps of the sky instead of using simple push pins. You could cross-correlate your own publications with that of a group or institute where you're thinking of applying for a job, or the publication output of a survey team with the footprint of their survey...

Comments welcome, but yes, I already know it's an interesting but essentially pointless hack. I mean other comments...


  1. One possible extension: A heat map of the entire sky, as you suggested, as a function of time, say, one picture per month. This allows to track the popularity of certain regions and identify hot and cool spots, as they grow and decay.

  2. I told you this in an email but this is really cool.