The project scope will most likely emerge from the AstroLibCoordsUseCases, but we can identify some user communities that we will, or will not, try to serve.
Our target user is a typical astronomer who needs to analyze data, work with catalogs, prepare observing proposals, and prepare for observing runs.
The following areas are not presently planned to be in the project scope:
- Relativistic effects
- Orbital mechanics (eg, satellite tracking)
- High precision astrometry
- We aren't opposed to providing support for these, if someone has the expertise and wants to contribute; but it won't be the primary focus of the library.
Finding the right niche
This project has potential overlaps with other existing projects, and it's worth carefully considering where we fit.
This library doesn't need to provide the level of precision or detailed modelling provided by astrometric libraries (see SLALIB, NOVAS, TPM on the AstroLibCoordsSoftwareSurvey page). But, if the machinery already exists, it may be easier to wrap and provide it.
If we were to take catalog matching as one of our AstroLibCoordsUseCases, it's worth noting that this is one of the fundamental problems the Virtual Observatory needs to tackle. The VO, however, needs to consider much larger, more distributed, and more general cases than we do. On the other hand, it would be good to be able to interface with the VO.