Saturday, May 19, 2012

I discovered the following errata page, published in the Uranometria Argentina, hasn't been incorporated in the various transcriptions:
I'll be updating the data for Vizier and in due course.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Uranometria Argentina: a Labour of Love

We have Frederick Pilcher to thank for the Uranometria Argentina making its way on to the web, and subsequently on to Vizier. What most people won't realize was that he entered all the data (original, as well as modern magnitudes and catalog references) by hand! In his own words:

After some investigation I learned that there was a copy of the original Uranometria Argentina at the library of Steward Observatory, University of Arizona, and arranged with the library staff to photocopy the entire tabulation plus a few additional pages of explanation. The photocopies I took home to type character by character into a plain text file, all 7700+ lines of data. Likewise all the modern data were added by hand. The entire task, fitted into spare time, required more than a year. I did exhaustive proofreading and found most of the typographical mistakes before ever putting the text file on-line.

Likewise by hand I entered the Gould numbers on to personal star charts, went out at
night, and using binoculars identified most of the Uranometria Argentina stars north of declination -50 degrees.

A remarkable effort. I came along later and helped with further proofreading, and the resulting data was loaded into Vizier. But without Frederick's herculean perseverance, none of it would have been possible. Thank you Frederick!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Uranometria Argentina: Atlas

The Uranometria Argentina catalogue was accompanied by a Star Atlas, which you can view here (courtesy of Google Translate), or here if you're comfortable in Spanish.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Gould update at Vizier

Thanks to Fran├žois Ochsenbein from CDS/Simbad and his helpful team, the Gould Catalogue at Vizier ( has been updated. The Gould Name has been added to the search results and the data record, as well as the original 1875.0 coordinates from the catalogue.
Uranometria Argentina entry for 82 G Erindani

This rectifies any potential ambiguity that existed previously with Flamsteed numbers with stars such as 33 G. Librae (which does not equal 33 Librae). How Gould's Uranometria Argentina came to be transcribed in the first place is a remarkable story in itself, which I will relate shortly in another entry.

Friday, July 29, 2011

EBSC Vol. 1 designations complete . . .

Updating of the final constellations to be included in Vol 1 is complete. I am updating an add-on for celestia to include these changes; it should take a few days to get the documentation organised.

The bulk of the work has been on designation cross-referencing, including correcting updates in existing ids (HD, SAO etc). The plan was to leave the rest of the data (proper motion etc etc) for a later stage. However it seems like it may be a good idea to at least do some updates now to make the data set more useful. It will probably consist of replacing old astrometric data from the original BSC with Hipparcos data (2nd reduction). I am toying with adding a flag if the star is contained in A. A. Tokovinin's Multiple Star Catalogue. Not sure if it will make the cut this time around, but let me know if you think it would be a valuable enhancement.

Friday, July 8, 2011

EBSC Vol. 1 is coming

Work on the EBSC has been put on hold for a little while, but now I am editing the final constellations that needed it in "part 2". The 22 constellations included in "parts" 1 and 2 will now be combined into Volume 1 when this editing process is complete. As there are 88 constellations, there will ultimately be 4 volumes of the EBSC, released for download over time.

Centaurus done. Crux, Norma and Phoenix to go...

Friday, June 24, 2011

Gould Designations: G. or no G. ?

I had a disagreement a while back with a scientist/astronomer about Gould numbers. Do Gould Designations have a G. or not? (e.g. 82 G. Eridani). He claimed he'd never even heard of the G., and felt that few people would be, or would want to be.

Historically, the G has always been present. I can also say that all atlases and publications I've come across include the G (his put-down of Sky & Telescope as publications for amateurs--what's with that?). So I said, as I still believe, that the G. is correct.

But I've been thinking. If the G. were dropped, it would be 'incorrect', but perhaps it would lead to Gould numbers being more popular. Pithy is good. Even though the G. is correct, maybe for the future they should be dropped.  33 G. Librae would have to keep the G. (33 Librae, a Flamsteed designation, already exists), but in most cases it could be done.

Thinking about it.