I use the planetarium program Guide (www.projectpluto.com). Guide supports adding "user" databases, i.e. databases that are not orginally included with Guide. I'd really like to be able to add (at least some) VSX data to Guide. If this is possible, is there any AAVSO restriction on doing this? This addition would be only to my machine and would not be available to other users.
If anyone is interested, this link has a description of how Guide users can add "user" databases to their own copy of Guide.
Do you have experience with Python? If so, it's relatively straightforward to write a script which (1) retrieves VSX stars from Vizier and (2) formats the data so that it can be imported into Guide. You would also have the option of filtering the VSX data so that you only download stars which meet certain criteria (e.g., maximum magnitude, type, coordinates, etc.).
Alas, I have no experience at all with Python.
My primary interest in adding VSX data to Guide is for observation planning. If Guide had only the VSX "name" and coordinates the object would appear in the chart display and Guide could also show the object's transit time for any date or the altitude for any date and time.
I think the information needed to translate the information I'd want from the VSX into a useable format for Guide is in that link explaining the Guide TDF (text definition file). I might be able to stumble my way through that alone, but I am hoping that someone may already have done this (created the Guide TDF for VSX) and would share or help me with it.
I downloaded the complete VSX catalog from Vizier. I haven't had time yet to write a .tdf file for importing this data into Guide, but if you'd like to try writing the .tdf, I've attached a sample datafile containing 1000 VSX stars. The full catalog is almost 17 MB, so I think that it will be easier to tinker with this sample (71 KB) before dealing with the full file. As I understand Guide, a valid .tdf for the sample dataset will also work with the full dataset.
For each VSX entry, I retrieved the name and variable type in addition to its coordinates in units of decimal degrees. I can retrieve additional information for each star (e.g., period, magnitude, etc.) if you so desire.
Within the next few days, I hope to find the time to write some code which will automatically create a .tdf file to accompany data downloaded from Vizier. I haven't written a .tdf file before, so I need to look at some of the examples first.
Thanks for your interest and the work you've done already.
Name, type, RA, and Dec. are really all I need for observation planning with Guide. The rest of the information I can get directly from VSX when I need it. I've attached a screen shot of the formats Guide uses for coordinates.
I'd love to spent some time learning to write the .tdf file. I'll be under pretty tight time constraints for the next few weeks, so I may not be able to get to in for a while. Maybe someone has already written the necessary .tdf file and will chime in.
I'd expect other Guide users would be very interested in having access to this VSX data in Guide. If we don't get comments from some others, perhaps we should take this conversation private (at least until we can announce success).
I also posted this question on the Yahoo "Guide-Users" group.
Bill Gray, author of Guide, also recommended downloading the VSX data base from VizieR and provided the needed .tdf file to make the VSX format understandable to Guide. It works! The full explanation is here:
You may need to be a "member" of this group to see the message.
Thanks, Colin. You were certainly on the right track, and Bill Gray provided the .tdf.
I'm glad to know that you got it to work. If you're interested, you might want to take a look at some of the other catalogs in VizieR. Depending on your observing interests, you might find another one to add to Guide. There are a lot of interesting catalogs there.