[LEAPSECS] IAU UTC report
athenamadeleina at gmail.com
Sat Nov 8 09:15:15 EST 2014
This is very strange. It is evident that the IAU WG is not the IAU,
but this is not admitted by the responder above. Instead he repeats
his position on renaming UTC and suggests - but does not say - that
the WG resolution was transmitted to the ITU effectively in the name
of the IAU. Perhaps yes, perhaps not.
Also, the Torino concensus is again referred to. Yet the very
references quoted - for both the IAU WG and Torino - indicate there
was no concensus. And this has been pointed out before, at least for
Torino. Also the IAU one indicates little interest outside the WG -
not what you would expect if astronomy is about to be thrown to the
wolves. All these persistent distortions convince me that at least
the one supporter of a name change I am quoting is really advocating
that as a poison-pill.
I've googled the positions of several of the people on the IAU WG, and
it seems to confirm the thesis that the IAU WG position was the result
of a vote, not a compromise. Either way, the co-chair Dr. Arias, as
befitting her responsibilities, went ahead and reported the outcome of
what some call a vote even though it went against her beliefs. She
seems to be very honest, as would be her co-chair Dr. McCarthy.
I've found that in several astronomical bodies have come out in favor
of abolishing leap seconds. According to Matsakis,
http://www.gps.gov/cgsic/meetings/2014/, the American, Japanese, and
European Space agencies (NASA, JAXA, and ESA) support ending leap
seconds. These are real-time users that would have the most to lose
if leap seconds were truly useful for space astronomy. He doesn't
mention GLONASS directly, but there is a viewgraph responding to the
Russian pro-leapsecond position. I don't think it would be right to
dismiss the American, Russian, and Japanese agencies as being
controlled by their governments - according to the reference, the
American decision-making process was public and consulted NASA. I
found a reference to that in the leapseconds archives too. Also, the
ESA is international.
So the astronomical institutional vote so far is 75% in favor of
abolishing leap seconds, with one abstention (IAU). That certainly
does not support the idea that abolishing leap seconds is sacrificing
astronomy in favor of navigation.
On 11/7/14, Rob Seaman <seaman at noao.edu> wrote:
> On Nov 6, 2014, at 10:19 PM, Alex Currant via LEAPSECS
> <leapsecs at leapsecond.com> wrote:
>> I am sorry but my statement was correct: the IAU has not taken a stand.
> That wasn't your complete statement. You went on to speculate "if it were
> so simple then the disagreements that were expressed in the IAU
> deliberations would not have been sufficient to prevent a resolution."
> Rather, the working group deliberations produced a unified report signed by
> all members including Dr. Arias:
> The terms of reference for the working group included:
> “Responding to the proposal of recommendation to establish a continuous
> reference timescale under the International Telecommunication Union, this
> working group will discuss about the redefinition of UTC from the
> perspectives of IAU”
> To the extent that the IAU has a perspective on this issue, the working
> group report expresses it. It is not accurate to say that the IAU has not
> taken a stand, rather the working group was split between two strong
> positions about continuing leap seconds, but the entire working group agreed
> that 'in the event of the deletion of future leap seconds the name of the
> scale should no longer reference the astronomical time scale “Universal
>> My statement was correct because an IAU Working Group is not the IAU, and
>> that IAU leadership has been explicitly clear about this point.
> Speculation about the intentions of the IAU is unwarranted. One cannot
> simultaneously argue that the IAU has not taken a stand while saying that
> the IAU leadership's intentions are explicitly clear.
>> Similarly, it appears you have distorted the Torino meeting by suggesting
>> a consensus existed. The summary of that meeting, as referenced on Steve
>> Allan's web pages for example, specifically states that there was no
>> concensus, yet you claim one existed.
> As with the IAU UTC working group, the consensus of the Torino meeting was
> split on the question of whether the status quo should be maintained.
> However, as with the report of the IAU working group, the closing summary
> report of the Torino meeting:
> expresses (verbatim) conclusions including the "preferred characteristics of
> a potential alternative" as below:
> Objectives :
> • To address the future of the Leap Second and related issues.
> • To draft a recommendation on the next steps on this issue to WP7A of the
> • There was no overwhelming consensus on a whether the status quo should be
> maintained or an alternative should be pursued.
> • However, the preferred characteristics of a potential alternative emerged
> (see below).
> • This draft alternate proposal should be passed on to WP7A for detailed
> development of an
> Opinion to be transmitted to the appropriate international organizations.
> • Advances in technology in communications, navigation and other fields
> would be enhanced in their interoperability by the adoption of a single,
> internationally recognized time scale for use in civil, engineering, and
> scientific applications.
> Draft Alternate Proposal :
> • Evolve from the current UTC Standard by transition to Temps International
> (TI) (2022 – 50TH anniversary of the UTC time scale). The date suggested is
> influenced by the lifetimes of existing systems that would be expensive to
> • TI should be a continuous atomic time scale, without Leap Seconds, that
> is synchronized with UTC at the time of transition.
> • Responsibility for disseminating UT1 information should remain solely
> with IERS.
> Rob Seaman
> National Optical Astronomy Observatory
>> From: Rob Seaman <seaman at noao.edu>
>> To: Leap Second Discussion List <leapsecs at leapsecond.com>
>> Sent: Thursday, November 6, 2014 10:45 PM
>> Subject: [LEAPSECS] IAU UTC report
>> On Nov 6, 2014, at 8:04 PM, Alex Currant via LEAPSECS
>> <leapsecs at leapsecond.com <mailto:leapsecs at leapsecond.com>> wrote:
>>> The IAU has not taken a stand on this - if it were so simple then the
>>> disagreements that were expressed in the IAU deliberations would not have
>>> been sufficient to prevent a resolution.
>> This is not correct. The IAU UTC working group did take a carefully
>> negotiated stand on this. All members of the working group contributed in
>> a serious and professional manner, and I was honored to work with all of
>> them, including those whose opinions differed from my own. The final
>> report from the IAU UTC working group is available online from the
>> scrolling news banner at the top of the page:
>> http://hpiers.obspm.fr/eop-pc/ <http://hpiers.obspm.fr/eop-pc/>
>> From the executive summary:
>> "Consequently, the Working Group recommends that the IAU respond to the
>> ITU-R by stating that the IAU is not in a position to formulate a
>> conclusive opinion regarding any change in the definition of Coordinated
>> Universal Time. Nevertheless, in the event of the deletion of future leap
>> seconds the name of the scale should no longer reference the astronomical
>> time scale “Universal Time” to avoid technical confusion, and a time
>> interval of at least five years between adoption and implementation should
>> be allowed."
>> This supports the consensus from the 2003 Torino colloquium. Whether a
>> large organization like the IAU or ITU responds efficiently to such a
>> recommendation depends on many factors, but nothing about the report was
>> "sufficient to prevent a resolution" or to prevent forwarding it to the
>> ITU, and the report was delivered to the IAU Exec in a timely fashion.
>> Rob Seaman
>> National Optical Astronomy Observatory
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