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The Minor Planet Observer
Palmer Divide Observatory

2007 Shoemaker Grant Recipient

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MPO Canopus:
Adding Data to the UserStar Catalog

The UserStar catalog is most often used in PhotoRed when doing photometric transforms or the QuickMags method for AAVSO program stars. This catalog is also where the Henden sequences are stored. It's very easy to add or update stars in the catalog.

In order to avoid creating a number of pages, a summary of the steps for the three general methods of importing data is given. Refer to "UserStar Conversion" in the Canopus manual (page 191 of the V9.0.2.1 manual). The PDF manual is in in \MPO\DOCS.

Before You Start

  1. The following assumes you have version 9. I believe version 8 works the same. If not, the UserStar management form is available in PhotoRed (Utilities menu) if not Canopus.

  2. Do NOT run more than one simultaneous instance of the UserStar form, i.e., do not run it in PhotoRed while you have it going in Canopus nor in separate instances of Canopus when running multiple instances, as allowed under version 9.

  3. Do not use the UserStar form to import the LONEOS catalog. There is a separate utility on the Conversions page for that purpose. The LONEOS data goes into a file of its own, separate from the UserStar file.

Method 1: Entering Stars Manually

  1. From the Canopus main menu, select Utilities | User Star Management. This displays the User Reference Stars form.

  2. Under the table that is on the right side of the form is a "database toolbar." One of the buttons is a "+". Click this to go into "Add" mode (a new, blank line appears at the top of the table).

  3. Enter the information in the various fields on that new line. The manual has more complete information on what goes in the fields.

  4. On the toolbar, click the "checkmark" button to accept the changes. To cancel, click the 'X' button on the toolbar (NOT the 'X' at the upper right of the form, which would close the form).

  5. Repeat as often as you like.

Method 2: Importing from a Text File

You can import data from a text file of almost any format. The manual gives more details but here is a general outline.

  1. On the User Reference Stars form, click the "Other" radio button in the "Source Type" box.

  2. Click the "Convert" button. This displays the Star Data Import form.

  3. Set the "Delimiters" radio button as needed, e.g., if the data is in a file that where the data fields are separated by commas, select "Comma".

  4. In the list of acceptable data fields, check all fields that apply. Every record (line) in the file must have the exact same number of fields, even if some are empty.

  5. If necessary, you can use the Up/Down arrows under the list to change the order of the fields in the list. The order in the list must match the order of the fields in the file.

  6. Check the "Position Format" radio button that matches the format for the positions, i.e., HH MM SS or DDD.dddddd

  7. Check the "CI Values" box if the B, R, I magnitudes are actually B-V, V-R, and V-I.

  8. Click the "Load" button and select the file to be converted.

  9. The program makes a first pass to convert the data. If everything is OK, you can click on the "Data" tab (just under the radio buttons for position format).

  10. Click the OK button to do the final conversion, which imports the data into the UserStar catalog.

Method 3: Importing Henden Sequences

Arne Henden has produced a number of data files that include precision magnitudes. You can download the files from

  1. In the "Source Type" radio group, click the "Henden Sequence" button. This enables the "Max Err" and "Min Obs" entry fields.

The Max Err is the maximum V error in Arne's file for a given star to be included. The Min Obs file is the minimum number of observations for the given star before it is included. The default Max Err is 0.05; I usually take that down to 0.02 (the UserStar file included with the CD/DVD uses 0.02/3 obs)

  1. Click the Convert button. This displays a file open form where you can locate the directory where you have stored the Henden files downloaded from his site.
  1. Select one or more files. Then click the "Open" button.
  1. The conversion proceeds automatically from there, Canopus being aware of the format within the Henden files.


Once you have the stars in the catalog, you can use the QuickMags approach to reduction, using only the AAVSO accepted stars for the references, and then easily generate AAVSO compatible reports.


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This page was last updated on 01/19/11 16:16 -0700.
All contents copyright (c) 2005-2011, Brian D. Warner
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