Gaia in the UK

Taking the Galactic Census

Gaia Data Release 2 Edinburgh workshop


(v20180625) Please check back as this page will be updated before the meeting (until marked as FINAL)

11.00-11.30 Coffee    
11.30: Gaia Mission and Status Nicholas Walton pdf
11.45: What's in Gaia DR2 Nigel Hambly pdf
12.10: Usage of Astrometric data (inc handling of errors) Floor van Leeuwen pdf
12.35: The Gaia data archive - intro in how to access Gaia Data and use of ADQL in the ESA archive. Nick Rowell  
13.00 Radial Velocity data in Gaia DR2 George Seabroke pdf
13.15-14.15 Buffet lunch    
14.15: Use of Gaia DR1 data from TOPCAT Mark Taylor pdf
15:00: API access with Python to the Gaia DR2 data Nigel Hambly  
15.15-15.30 Coffee (and split into breakout groups)    
15.30: Participants Use Cases    
17.00: Participant Feedback and Wrap-Up    
17.15 Close    

Date and Location

Thurs 12 July 2018

The workshop will be held at the Royal Observatory on Blackford Hill which hosts the Institute for Astronomy

On arrival you should enter the lodge on the left just inside the entrance gates to sign in and get a visitor badge. From there walk up the slope and around to the right to enter the old 1894 Building through the “library entrance” (look out for the signs). Once inside you should walk up a short flight of stairs and then take a left to walk up a longer flight of curved stairs to enter the Rooftop Gallery which will be the location for the day’s activities.

 Please contact Nigel Hambly or Nick Rowell if you have any questions.

Breakout Sessions:


(as of 20180711)

  • Shadab Alam (IfA, Edinburgh)
  • David Behrendt  (IfA, Edinburgh) [PhD student]
  • Beth Biller (IfA, Edinburgh)
  • Aaron Bradley (IfA, Edinburgh) [PhD student]
  • Abi Chown (Bath) [PhD student]
  • Raphael Errani (IfA, Edinburgh) [PhD student]
  • Annette Ferguson (IfA, Edinburgh)
  • Olivia Jones  (UKATC, Edinburgh)
  • Pamela Klaassen (UKATC, Edinburgh)
  • Pete Kuzma (IfA, Edinburgh)
  • Marco Lam (ARI, LJMU)
  • Paul Ross McWhirter  (IfA, Edinburgh) [PhD student]
  • Keith Palin (IfA, Edinburgh)
  • Tatiana Pavlidou (St Andrews) [PhD student]
  • Ruben Sanchez-Janssen (UKATC, Edinburgh)
  • Hermine Schnetler (IfA, Edinburgh)
  • Anna Lisa Varri (IfA, Edinburgh)
  • Rosemary Wyse (JHU)​


  • Nigel Hambly (IfA, Edinburgh) 
  • Floor van Leeuwen (IoA, Cambridge)
  • Nick Rowell (IfA, Edinburgh)
  • George Seabroke (MSSL, UCL)
  • Mark Taylor (Bristol)
  • Nicholas Walton (IoA, Cambridge) 

What to Bring

Each attendee is requested to bring a personal laptop.

WiFi: wireless access is provided via eduroam (preferred) but if you do not have an eduroam account please contact Nigel Hambly beforehand to arrange personal visitor network access credentials for the day.

Pre-Meeting Software

All attendees will get the chance to use the Gaia archive tools in the afternoon sessions. Please aim to install the following software (if you don't already have them). 

Installing the 'helper' clients.

Java is required by Topcat and Aladin: any recent java version is OK, but Oracle/Hotspot Java SE (from is recommended rather than OpenJDK.  On linux you can run “java -version” to see which you have.

Instructions for installing Python

Some scripting access will be provided using python. 

If you don’t already have a Python (scientific) stack on your computer, you can easily install the Anaconda stack. This comes with “batteries included”, and comes packed with numpy (numerical python), scipy (scientific python), Astropy (astronomical Python library), and matplotlib (a plotting library).   You can get the Python 2.7 or Python 3.5 Anaconda version from:   If you don’t know which Python version to chose, then select Python 3.5 (graphical or command line installer -- either is OK).  

Background Material and Breakout Sessions

During the breakout sessions, the tutors and attendees will aim to work through a number of the use cases that attendees have suggested at the time of registration. In addition, attendees can work through cases that they suggest on the day, with help from the tutors.  

Attendees and tutors are encouraged to keep a running log (please edit this Google Doc) of what they work on during the breakout sessions. This will be a public document, hence will be shared with however discovers this link. 

The Gaia DR2 data can be found at:

Help information on the use of ADQL can be found at:

Gaia via TAP

Andy Casey provides a TAP interface for those using python - see - this can be installed with the 'pip install gaia-on-tap' command (you might need to 'sudo' this).


 Lunch and teas / coffees will be provided for all attendees.