Vereniging Voor Sterrenkunde, Werkgroep Veranderlijke Sterren (Belgium) (VVS)
Wed, 06/12/2013 - 12:24

I use a lot of charts for my visual observations. It's a big pile with binders: one for my "binocular stars", one for summer and one for winter constellations, one for bright Miras, ... .

Would it be one option to go digital? I could put all the maps as PDF on an e-book reader? They have the advantage that they don't give annoying (white) light like an i-pad or notebook, you still can use a red flashlight. It would also be handy to take with me on a trip, I don't need to print out paper for updates, ... .

Is there anyone that works this way? Or is this just a bad idea (moisture, ...)?

American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO)
Digital Charts

I think this is a great idea.  Don't kow about the moisture issue, or the mechanics.

That being said, how about someone (volunteering) to write an ap that would allow an observer to have a list of charts/objects, and then batch download them to the device?  That way, we would not all have to download each chart one by one. 

It could even be made to connect regularly and update to the latest rev.  Should include the PT table also.  I am sure ccd observers would find this very helpful.  Know this can all be done on a pc, but like the idea of a dedicated device, separate fromt he observatory computer.

Anyway, more good ideas than time and resources.  This would be a great opportunity for someone to go down in the anals of AAVSO history with a great contribution.




American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO)


Some time ago I created a windows app (so laptop rather than phone) which displays black-on-white charts as scrollable red-on-black, plus many other features. I always use this at the scope since it also creates a report in AAVSO visual format which can be uploaded there and then at the end of (or during) a session. The coding is in Visual Basic so not convertible to tablet/phone. What language do they use? Java?

Magyar Csillagaszati Egyesulet, Valtozocsillag Szakcsoport (Hungary) (MCSE)
red charts with black background

One of the observers of HAA/VSS - who is happen to be the scientific director of Konkoly Observatory and he is also an advisor to the LPV Section of AAVSO - produced a PDF version of the variable star atlases (charts) of HAA/VSS. He used it on a PDA.

A few years ago with the help of another astronomer friend I made a script that can be used to convert the b/w AAVSO charts to have black background with red star dots and text. The results can be seen here. (Of course if an 300dpi chart is converted the quality of the red chart is much better, then the uploaded sample image. Maybe I need to upload some of them to dropbox to show the real converted charts.)

My script runs in Ubuntu environment. If you are interested you can find this script in my blog. (Sorry, this blog entry in in Hungarian, but you can find the script there anyway.) On my notebooks I've been using the charts produced by this script for several years.

I'm also considering to copy these charts to my smart phone (Android) somehow, just need to find a way how to use them.

It seems It's time to download the new AAVSO chart for binocular variables in order to update my old binocular charts and convert them. When I've done it I'll provide the converted charts to anyone interested.

Re: Digital Charts

Hello Gents, yes this is a great idea, and one that I have been doing for the last couple of years with my iphone. All I do is download the relevant chart to a folder called AAVSO charts on my computer from there I put it into the relevant sub folder with the constellation name. I then simply invert the colour on the chart to have a black background.

After i sync the iphone with iTunes, all charts are copied to my phone. The only thing is th issue of the white stars, and yes, a black background with red stars would be even better.

This is incredibly handy to use out here at night !


American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO)
Sorting charts

Hi, I read this thread and thought about putting my charts on my e-reader. I just made a readable small-screen (6 inches, I think) PDF but I can't figure out how to sort the charts in proper order, other than semi-manually doing it.

Is there a function/algorithm available to sort variable star names?

P. S.: If you are interested in the chart conversion, just ask!

American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO)
I do use a Kindle ...

I do have some of my charts in electronic format, and I do use an ebook reader (the very basic Kindle) for the very same reason: doesn't give light.

It works ok. 

That being said, paper is still better: it has a more difuse reflection. The screen of the ereader is more on the shiny side.

American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO)
Using red/black digital charts is easy

I use digital red/black charts as a rule. This is what I do:

1. I download the charts I need and rename them using a convention that enables sorting by constellation, and that also informs about the field size, minimum magnitude and orientation, for example:


This is R And chart, with 1.5° field width, with East to the right and South up, with minimum magnitude 12.5. It is a chart originated by AAVSO, where it gets the code X18838D.

2. I convert the original black/white PNGs to red/black PNGs using some utilities from the ImageMagick package:

2.1 I create a red/black gradient:

convert -size 10x100  gradient:red-black gradient.png

2.2. I use this gradient to "project" the color scheme from the original file to the modified image:

convert infile.png gradient.png -clut outfile.png

I store the modified files in another folder, with a "red" added in the name. I do all these procedures via a Perl script.

3. I then put all these images in a folder in a 7" tablet, that I use at the telescope.

And presto! Efficient and portable!