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  1. #1

    Default Planning tool for periodic variable stars

    I'm looking for advice on how to implement a planner for periodic variable stars.

    When you work on a new/unknown/poorly studied star, especially one that is not a long-period variable, you often start out by taking long time-series for the first few nights.

    Eventually you get a good idea of the period, and then you find that you only have some small data gaps (in the phase plot) to acquire so that you have a complete light curve.

    Those small gaps do not require long time-series runs, but they do require you to collect your data at certain times. Depending on the star's period, those opportunities may come often, occasionally, or only once or twice a season. (It's easy to get a complete light curve on an 11-hour period star in winter. It's far harder to get all the data for a 3.4-day period star during short summer nights. One star I've helped study has a suspected period of 6.997 days. Ouch!)

    But how do you plan for this with the tools that ACP has to offer? Currently there is no ACP planning tool that allows you to input parameters, such as period and epoch, and the phase interval that needs coverage...and outputs some sort of plan (.txt .rtml .xml or whatever format may be best for importing into ACP or Scheduler).

    Yes, there is always the trusty old spreadsheet to generate a future list of observing windows, but does anyone have any suggestions or ideas on better ways to create a periodic variable star planning tool?

    Thanks in advance.

    Tom Krajci
    Cloudcroft, New Mexico

    Center for Backyard Astrophysics (CBA) CBA New Mexico

    American Association of Variable Star
    Observers (AAVSO): KTC

  2. #2


    Hi Tom,

    You might want to look at Bob Nelson's software repository:

    (This is linked from the AAVSO software page also.)

    I think the Phases spreadsheet will give you a pseudo grahical representation of the way lightcurve phases progress over a user specified period of time given a set of elements. (I hope I'm remembering this correctly.) I don't know if that's what you need but you can take a look. Some of the other programs there are pretty good too.

    Tim Hager
    Mount Tom Observatory



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