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AstroInfo 3.1 RC1(ARP) for PalmOS

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#51 arpruss

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Posted 11 January 2009 - 12:20 AM

I finally got 3.1 downloaded and installed. The "search" function, as described above, just flat out doesn't work. All of the catalogs are installed.


Do you see a list of all the catalog objects, including M13, in the catalog screen (it should be scrollable)? If so, what happens when you type in the search box? Does anything change?

Also, you should provide some way to easily return the sky display to the sky as seen from the selected location and current time.


Tap on the watch icon.

Also, it would be nice to bring up a **list** of Moon phases (new, FQ, full, LQ) for a selected month.


You mean, a text list as opposed to the current graphical list?

#52 arpruss

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Posted 11 January 2009 - 11:44 AM

Let me give some more explicit directions for the search.

Tap on the icon in the upper right of the screen. You'll get a list of forms available. Choose "Catalog":
Posted Image

Then you'll see a list of objects (if not, tap on "Catalogs" to ensure the catalogs are enabled):
Posted Image

Type "m13" to narrow down the list:
Posted Image

Tap on one of the "M13" objects:
Posted Image

And you should jump to this:
Posted Image

#53 Calypte

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Posted 11 January 2009 - 12:24 PM

The search doesn't work as you describe. If I key in, say, M13, NOTHING happens. Absolutely nothing. Zip, zilch, nada, rien, Nullte. But I tell you what I did discover, and it's apparently an "undocumented feature" of your program: if I press the right part of the "5-way navigator," then the list narrows to M13.

WRT the Moon: The graphical display is nice, and it's certainly improved in 3.1 over the display in 3.0. The earlier version of the program provided no clue as to which of two or three consecutive days was indeed full Moon, but the percentages help with that. I think it's odd that black indicates the lit part of the Moon.

What I was requesting was a simple text list showing the exact date and time of the main Moon phases (new, FQ, full, LQ). This would be in addition to the graphical list.

Pressing the clock symbol does *not* restore the sky view to the current view from my latitude and time. In fact, the sky display, which may or may not change when I hit the "clock" seems rather random. I don't see any logic to the sky that's presented. It's "current" in that the planets and Sun are in their correct places relative to each other, but the sky as a whole is unrelated to my time or location.

#54 Calypte

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Posted 11 January 2009 - 12:46 PM

WRT the Moon phases graphical display: Something I'd like to see would be to be able to click on the Moon for a particular day and for the program to tell me, in text, the rise, transit and set times of the Moon. I'm trying to use this as a tool for planning CCD imaging.

WRT the sky display: I take back part of what I said, it's not "random." What it does is put whatever I last searched for or whatever planet I last looked at in the center of the sky. There's no way to restore the sky to something resembling the sky for my location (latitude) and time.

One mystery: the magnified images of the planets in 3.0 had much better resolution than in 3.1. In 3.0 they actually had some detail; in 3.1 they're much more highly pixelated.

#55 arpruss

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Posted 11 January 2009 - 02:53 PM

The search doesn't work as you describe. If I key in, say, M13, NOTHING happens. Absolutely nothing. Zip, zilch, nada, rien, Nullte.


Before you type "M13", do you have a list of objects in the upper part of the screen?

But I tell you what I did discover, and it's apparently an "undocumented feature" of your program: if I press the right part of the "5-way navigator," then the list narrows to M13.


It's supposed to do it as you type without any need to press the right key. I'll have to see why you're having this problem. Which device do you have, and what input method are you using? (Are you using Graffiti 2, or are you popping up an on-screen keyboard?)

WRT the Moon: The graphical display is nice, and it's certainly improved in 3.1 over the display in 3.0. The earlier version of the program provided no clue as to which of two or three consecutive days was indeed full Moon, but the percentages help with that. I think it's odd that black indicates the lit part of the Moon.


It's actually gray. It looks better in night mode. :-)

Pressing the clock symbol does *not* restore the sky view to the current view from my latitude and time. In fact, the sky display, which may or may not change when I hit the "clock" seems rather random. I don't see any logic to the sky that's presented. It's "current" in that the planets and Sun are in their correct places relative to each other, but the sky as a whole is unrelated to my time or location.


You're the second user to comment on this. I was really confused, because I couldn't understand what you or the other user was asking for in terms of getting the sky to match the view at your time and location, since of course what the sky looks like at your time and location depends on the direction you're looking.

I think the issue was this: Both you and the other user, I bet, have AstroInfo set to show objects that are below the horizon. That makes the display confusing. I suggest you use the sky options to hide objects that are below the horizon, or fade them. Then it'll all be much more straightforward. You can then simply zoom out (page down, I think), and rotate to the zenith (drag down in alt/az mode).

#56 arpruss

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Posted 11 January 2009 - 02:57 PM

WRT the Moon phases graphical display: Something I'd like to see would be to be able to click on the Moon for a particular day and for the program to tell me, in text, the rise, transit and set times of the Moon.


That's a great idea. Just a little popup window that gives rise, transit and set for the moon, and rise and set for the sun?

One mystery: the magnified images of the planets in 3.0 had much better resolution than in 3.1. In 3.0 they actually had some detail; in 3.1 they're much more highly pixelated.


When I zoom Jupiter so that it fills about half of the screen, I see a high res image.

My guess is that you accidentally installed one of the low or medium resolution planet images. All of these images share the same Palm database name, so if you install the medium resolution images on top of the high res ones, they'll overwrite them. If you reinstall PlanetsLargeColor.prc, you should get back your high resolution images.

#57 arpruss

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Posted 11 January 2009 - 03:06 PM

I think I have the search issue figured out. I bet you were entering the data using the on-screen keyboard (menu | edit | keyboard) or some equivalent. There was a bug in the code which made it not work with the on-screen keyboard. I guess neither I nor any of the other developers use the on-screen keyboard, so we never caught it.

The bug will be fixed in the next release.

By the way, while I am grateful for the bug reports, it really helps if you tell me exactly what you did when reporting a problem, so I can duplicate it. As the detective likes to same in mystery novels, every little detail, however insignificant, can help.

#58 Calypte

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Posted 11 January 2009 - 04:49 PM

Now, how would I enter the search argument other than by using the keyboard? I know of no alternative, so, of course, I wouldn't need to describe it!

Also, I installed all of the software provided by the download. I have no way of knowing that there are items that shouldn't be installed.

I already have the sky set to show items below the horizon as faded. I don't think it's unreasonable to have, as a default or one-click selection, a way to show the sky as it appears, currently, from my location. When I display the sky, it shows the sky with whatever I last searched for as the center of the sky.

BTW, the "free" version of Astromist performs exactly as I wish when showing the monthly display of Moon phases. I click on the Moon symbol, and it tells me the exact phase, rise, transit and set times.

Also BTW, I'm almost certain that the 3.0 version of AstroInfo showed the distances of deep-sky objects. True, it was hilarious to watch it continually revise the distance with wildly different values, often negative (maybe that's the distance into another dimension). Anyway, the 3.1 version doesn't report distances.

Speaking of distances, planetary distances are reported in AU. I know that that is very cool and scientific, but when I'm at a public star party, I have to tell the people distances in miles (I usually include km, since I'm a metric kind of guy). Usually what I've done in the past is to do my homework ahead of time so that I can tell them that, say, Jupiter is 450 million miles away tonight.

#59 arpruss

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Posted 11 January 2009 - 05:01 PM

The usual way to enter data on Palm devices that don't have a hardware keyboard is to handwrite it in Graffiti 1 or 2 in the input area under the screen or in the bottom portion of the screen.

I take it you want a button to zoom all the way out and point at the zenith? I guess that's worthwhile. (I almost always use AstroInfo zoomed in, but I can see how one might want an automatic zoomout in one click.) Should it be a menu option in the Sky menu or an on-screen icon (what should it look like?)

#60 Calypte

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Posted 11 January 2009 - 06:02 PM

I never took the input area seriously. But -- you're right -- the search does work when the argument is entered there.

#61 arpruss

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Posted 11 January 2009 - 07:14 PM

(For a list of which items to install, see install.txt.)

Anyway, I've just uploaded 3.10K. New stuff:
- fix for searching with popup keyboard
- tap on day number in phase calendar view for more information
- menu|Sky|Zoom Out option to set view to zenith and maximally zoom out

Full distribution (with many megabytes of catalogs):
http://www.palmgear.com/?xyz=137417

App only (no catalogs):
http://pruss.mobi/ai310b-app-only.zip

Source is also on palmgear (or will be in a few minutes after this post goes up--it's still uploading).

#62 arpruss

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Posted 11 January 2009 - 08:40 PM

About DSO distances, in 3.0 they were completely bogus. None of the catalogs include distance information, and in 3.0, due to a bug, when distance information was missing, random numbers were displayed. In 3.1, the bogus numbers are suppressed. If one had a good source of reliable distance data, one could include the data in the catalogs, and display it.

#63 rboe

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Posted 12 January 2009 - 09:07 AM

I've started to play with it. The one thing that hit me more than anything else is that the size of the sky seems small compared to other products out there. The Palm screen is small enough as it is without making it smaller.

If it's just a config setting then I need to look a bit further into this.

Do you have a manual buried somewhere?

#64 arpruss

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Posted 12 January 2009 - 10:00 AM

You can zoom in with "page up" (or maybe "page down"--I can never remember). If you're worried about the object details area at the bottom of the screen taking up valuable screen space, you can adjust the number of lines in that area in the sky options. Or you can go to full-screen mode by tapping on the arrow button in the lower right.

AI can also take full advantage of the larger screen sizes on some Palm devices (the beta builds only do this for T3/T5/TX/LD/Zodiac and maybe Garmin, but the code is there for Handera, Sony and Alphasmart, just not enabled in the beta builds).

A manual to 3.0 is at http://astroinfo.sf.net

#65 Calypte

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Posted 12 January 2009 - 12:53 PM

> About DSO distances, in 3.0 they were completely bogus.

No kidding! :-)

#66 rboe

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Posted 12 January 2009 - 04:19 PM

I'll check that out. Thanks. I'm running it on a Tungsten T right now. I may try it on my E2 later.

#67 Calypte

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Posted 18 January 2009 - 02:03 AM

One out of three. The search by entering the argument via the "keyboard" works. Moon info via clicking the day on the Moon calendar doesn't. The zenith view -- maybe I just don't understand how to achieve it.

#68 arpruss

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Posted 18 January 2009 - 09:06 AM

One out of three. The search by entering the argument via the "keyboard" works. Moon info via clicking the day on the Moon calendar doesn't.


Are you tapping on the moon or on the day number above it? You need to tap on the day number.

The zenith view -- maybe I just don't understand how to achieve it.


You tap on the menu button in the lower-left hand corner of the input area below the screen. Then you tap on "Sky", and then on the zoom out option.

You mentioned earlier that Palm did not document that page up/down function on the TE2. I wonder if they perhaps didn't document the menu function either?

#69 Calypte

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Posted 18 January 2009 - 08:03 PM

Are you tapping on the moon or on the day number above it? You need to tap on the day number.

Tapping on the number works. Thanks.

You tap on the menu button in the lower-left hand corner of the input area below the screen. Then you tap on "Sky", and then on the zoom out option.

That brings up an option called "sky map" -- is that what you mean?

#70 Calypte

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Posted 18 January 2009 - 08:36 PM

You tap on the menu button in the lower-left hand corner of the input area below the screen. Then you tap on "Sky", and then on the zoom out option.

OK, I see it.

#71 arpruss

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Posted 20 January 2009 - 10:18 AM

I've made some minor revisions to AstroInfo and my NGC/IC catalogs for RoadLingua.

AstroInfo revisions:
- Make observing list behavior more Palm-like
- Revise dictionary lookup code not to need PPI--instead, install RoadLinguaInterface.prc
- Revise dictionary lookup code for compatibility with latest NGC/IC catalog for RoadLingua

NGC/IC catalog for RoadLingua revisions:
- Compatibility with latest AstroInfo
- Added SAC catalog

AstroInfo app only (and RoadLinguaInterface.prc):
- http://pruss.mobi/ai310b-app-only.zip

AstroInfo full binaries (14mb):
- http://palmgear.com/?xyz=137417

AstroInfo source (26mb)
- http://palmgear.com/?xyz=137415

NGC/IC and SAC catalogs for RoadLingua (these have more data for each entry than the catalogs built into AstroInfo, and many NGC objects have photos, which is kind of cool to have when observing):
- http://palmgear.com/?xyz=138535

#72 arpruss

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Posted 22 January 2009 - 12:17 AM

There is now an online service for generating up-to-date minor planet and comet catalogs for AstroInfo. Go to
http://pruss.homeip.net/alex/mp.html

You can either do this on your desktop, and then install the catalog to your PDA, or if you have an Internet enabled PDA, you can do it directly from there.

The planet and comet designations follow the conventions used by the service at http://www.cfa.harva...PEph/MPEph.html
(In fact, that service is the source of the ephemerides)

#73 Calypte

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Posted 30 January 2009 - 02:22 PM

Thank you. I'll check out the comet data.

The new ability to get moonrise-moonset by clicking on the calendar is a big help. Having now had the chance to use AstroInfo while at a public star party, there are a couple of additional things that would be useful, though I have no idea how hard they are to implement: (1) vital statistics for planets (real physical -- not angular -- diameter, orbital period, etc.); (2) dates for oppositions and solar conjunctions. Specifically, I was trying to figure out, with the Palm, when Venus reaches inferior conjunction in March. March 27, it turns out.

#74 arpruss

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Posted 30 January 2009 - 02:29 PM

Thank you. I'll check out the comet data.

The new ability to get moonrise-moonset by clicking on the calendar is a big help. Having now had the chance to use AstroInfo while at a public star party, there are a couple of additional things that would be useful, though I have no idea how hard they are to implement: (1) vital statistics for planets (real physical -- not angular -- diameter, orbital period, etc.); (2) dates for oppositions and solar conjunctions. Specifically, I was trying to figure out, with the Palm, when Venus reaches inferior conjunction in March. March 27, it turns out.


I think I'll pass on the extra information. It would just take up more space. Instead, I think the thing to do is to make a Roadlingua dictionary with the additional information (or just tack it on to my NGC/IC and SAC dictionaries) and then one can use the Dictionary Lookup option in AstroInfo. Doing it this would avoid the danger of introducing more bloat in AstroInfo. How does that sound to you?

#75 Calypte

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Posted 30 January 2009 - 06:01 PM

Sounds fine. AstroInfo has also been useful when talking to the public in the gallery at Palomar, where I work as a docent. I also use my Palm as a refresher for facts and dates related to the 200" scope and for info on the coming night's observing activities. People can see astronomers and technicians installing equipment, so they want to know what the equipment is for.


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