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Observing >> Deep Sky Observing

Pages: 1
Akarsh Simha

Reged: 03/27/07

Loc: Austin, TX, USA
Computer-generated logbooks for deep-sky lists.
      #5689940 - 02/19/13 11:11 PM

Recently, I wrote a script to automatically generate observing logbooks using KStars, LaTeX and a bunch of other software tools. Currently, I can only do objects that are in the NGC / IC catalogues. To use these logbooks, a wide-field star chart is necessary at the very least. The logbooks should provide most other information necessary to find the objects.

I could generate such logbooks for other lists (of NGC/IC objects) provided they are copyright-free or the copyright-holder provides permission for doing the same.

The logbooks are purely for non-commercial use, and there is a chapter explaining what constitutes appropriate use of the book. Otherwise, I've made an effort to ensure that they are free to distribute, copy and modify (to some extent). Please read the Legal section for these details.

Please feel free to print the logbooks and use them. You need not print the Legal etc. sections for personal use, but you must include them if you intend to distribute the books. The logbooks are typeset for 1-side printing or 2-sided coil-bound (also called spiral binding) printing.

There are both U.S. Letter and A4 versions. The A4 versions are tailored for use by the Bangalore Astronomical Society, which is where I got the idea for these books from.

Please report any errors and comments to me at -- I cannot promise that I will be able to incorporate your suggestions, but I'll try.

I owe a lot to the Bangalore and Austin astronomical societies for their support and feedback on the logbooks.

The following open source tools were used to generate these books:
1. KStars (
2. LaTeX (
3. Utilities from the standard GNU/Linux suite (awk, sed, bash)
4. xmlstarlet
5. Inkscape (
6. ImageMagick (

Dr. Wolfgang Steinicke's Revised NGC/IC catalogue was used for the deep-sky data, the US Naval Observatory NOMAD catalog was used for the star data, and the DSS query service at MAST archive ( was used to programmatically obtain DSS images.

Whew! Here are links to the logbooks:
Download Logbooks

(I'm sorry that the very popular Herschel-400 does not appear on the list because I haven't yet received permission from the Astronomy League to distribute the list.)

Known Bug: Some (bright) stars have incorrect positions due to incorrect Epoch of the catalog. I haven't been able to identify which ones, what magnitude range, are affected. The effect is hopefully minor (difference between 1990 ~ 2000). Any help on systematically diagnosing this bug will be deeply appreciated.

Want the source code? Yes, I'll be giving out the source code to generate the logbooks. It will take me at least a few weeks more. To use it, you will probably need to be running GNU/Linux (Or you might be able to figure out how to use it on Windows with Cygwin, and maybe it works on OS/X too), and have the current developmental version of KStars (available from the KDE repositories, see the KStars project homepage) compiled from source.

Sample Page

Hope it is found to be useful.


Edited by Akarsh Simha (02/19/13 11:34 PM)

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