Re: (IAAC) DSO observers software

Interesting question, Jeff.  I can only speak about 2 programs - DeepSky
2000 and NGP.  DeepSky 2000 is a major effort from Steve Tuma with the
help of Dean Williams and can be found at www.deepsky2000.com.  It's a
huge piece of software that trys hard to be a bit of everything for
everyone: database, logbook, image processing and sky mapping.  It does
so much that I must admit to being a bit overwhelmed by the program!
NGP (New General Program) was an old DOS based application for the NGC
only.  Written by Dean Williams, it was a delight to use; both as an
observing planner and as a logbook.  I still use it to keep track of any
NGC object observed and expect to continue doing so for a long time.
The logbook portion works well if you know the old WordStar command set
(^KR to read in a file, for example).  I write up a text file for an
evening's observing session that looks like this:
Date:     31 Jan, 1998
Moon:     4 days old
Seeing:   Very Good
Trans:    Excellent
Clouds:   Started clear, but clouded up shortly after 2200
Location: 1998 Winter Star Party - Florida Keys
I then open up the object viewed, import this text file into the log
book and fill in the time and description fields.  It only takes a few
seconds to record the observation and move on to the next object for the
evening.  Here's an example of such a completed record:
Date:     28/29 Jan, 1998
Moon:     New
Seeing:   Good
Trans:    Excellent
Clouds:   Clouds moving in later on in the night
Location: 1998 Winter Star Party - Florida Keys
Time:  0110
Description:  Very faint galaxy.  Seen at 110x, but not easy.  Round
              no central brightening.  Mag 11 or 12 star just at edge.
One of the best features of NGP is the ability to export your own
observations and import those of other observers.   I have some of Steve
Coe's old observations along with those of others and some professional
catalogs like the Lynds catalog of bright nebulae and the Lunds open
star cluster catalog.
So... a complete record might look something like this:
 NGC #   40  Type Planetary Nebula  Class 3b(3)      #Stars  0    * Mag
 Const Cep Mag 10.0 Source 7 Size 60" X 40"     Tirion 1  Uranometria 1,
 RA  0h 13.0m Dec  72d 32' Ga Lo 120.02  Ga La 9.87    POSS X 150  POSS
Y 160
 Xrf P
7 August, 1977 C-8 from Jacksonville, Fl
Trans - good, seeing - fairly steady, bad light pollution
Faint planetary.  Bright star with faint nebula around.  Best at 160x
19 November, 1989  C-8 from Lilburn, Ga.
Trans - fair with slight ground haze, seeing - very good, heavy light
Fairly bright planetary.  Easily seen in not quite dark sky.  Very
central star with fainter star just outside nebula.  Ill-defined edges
determining exact shape difficult.  Star becomes less obvious at low
but nebula is more difficult also.  Best viewed at powers between
.*** Start Import *** Strasbourg Catalog of Planetary Nebulae.
PK number: 120+ 9.1
RA, Dec:  0 10.3   72 15
Visual magnitude:  10.7
Angular size:  37" (fainter spherical envelope)
Mean radial velocity: - 23 km/sec
Magnitude of central star:  11.6
Expansion velocity:  28 km/sec
*** End Import ***
*** Start Import *** Dean Williams' Herschel Club notes (complete).
H-IV-58. 22 Sep. 1990. C8 in Ouachita Ntnl. Forest. Clear and steady.
This is a good little planetary. It stands power very well - tonight I
it up to X222. It presents a bright central star with a small
halo. The appearance is different from a small galaxy with a stellar
nucleus, since the magnitude drop-off is so sudden from star to nebula,
because of the well-defined outer edges. It lies immediately adjacent to
field star whose magnitude is close to that of 40's central star.
even at X100, it is good-sized for a planetary. No color was noted. A
significant field star may be seen at X100.
*** End Import ***
*** Start Import *** Barbara Wilson's Herschel Club & misc. notes.
HERSCHEL club object.
Size: 608
Listed magnitude: 10.2
Date of observation: 9-10-88
Time of observation: 3:00 AM
Seeing: 5
Transparency: 6
Telescope/Instrument: 20" F/4
Eyepiece: 13
Magnification: 155
Eyepiece drawing: NO
Data source: S & T JN 1986 PG 631
*** End Import ***
*** Start Import *** Sue French's Herschel Club notes.
6:10 pm est
Fair seeing, fair transparency
10" f/6 newtonian, 48x, 73x, 90x
Small, faint, round planetary nebula with bright central star. As
magnification increases star becomes more obvious and nebula less.
Easy object.
*** End Import ***
*** Start Import *** Steve Coe's notes on 393 NGC objects.
Bright, large, and elongated 1.5X1.  Central star obvious at 200X.
The color is grey at all powers.  At 200X and above from one of our best
locations, the nebula shows off two brighter ends that look like "polar
on Mars.  The western cap is larger and brighter.  From a poorer site on
night I rated 5/10 for seeing and transparency, the brighter parts of
planetary make it appear to have a spiral shape.  The "polar cap" effect
appears on the best of nights.
*** End Import ***
*** Start Import *** Glenn Bock's notes on 274 objects 4-8-91
9/16/90 -8"SCT 26mmSP 77x
Large, dim periphery, rising to sharp peak brightenss at core. Not your
typical Pneb.  Star just at W edge of envelope apporx as bright as
central brightening.  Apparently in my notes the central brightness
did not appear like a central star as the object appeared to brighten
evenly from the edges with no sharp increase, making it look starlike.
*** End Import ***
Now, if I could just find someone who wanted to convert all the Skiff
and Luginbuhl notes over to NGP format!   I've been using NGP since the
late 80's or early 90's and find it the best program out there for
keeping observing logs.  It should be noted that many of the extant NGP
logs have been ported over to Deepsky 2000 by Dean Williams, but I don't
feel the log entry function on Deepsky is as easy to use as that in NGP.
For non-NGP objects, I just keep a series of 3x5 cards on each
constellation and put the object's catalog number, log book volume and
page where the observation can be found.  Not the best system but it
seems to work pretty well.
Eric Greene                        erg@america.net
Unofficial Celestron Homepage
-----Original Message-----
From: Jeff Medkeff <medkeff@c2i2.com>
To: netastrocatalog-announce@latrade.com
Date: Wednesday, March 11, 1998 10:58 AM
Subject: (IAAC) DSO observers software
>At 05:05 PM 3/10/98 -0500, Lew wrote:
>I'll jump up here at this point and say that one reason that my
>observations do not appear here more often has to do with the tedium of
>recording them. DSO observations I generally just bark into a tape
>and transcribe the next day. Once this is done, I rarely feel like
>transcribing them again for the catalog, especially since I tend to
>a lot of detail.
>>At my suggestion, Eric Greene sent me a dump of his whole database of
>>object observations from the 'NGP' program...
>The above quote seems to suggest that there might be a software
solution to
>this dilemma. Could I ask for a brief discussion of the existing DSO
>observing softwares out there, their features, whether anyone has
>found them useful, and so on? I am not after information on charting
>programs here, but rather comments about the handful of DS observation
>planning and logging packages I have heard of.
>Jeff Medkeff          | Acting Assistant Coordinator
>Rockland Observatory  | Association of Lunar and Planetary
>Sierra Vista, Arizona | Observers, Solar Section
>On the web at http://shutter.vet.ohio-state.edu/