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A WDS .tdf file for double stars in Guide 9

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#1 wdstdf


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Posted 28 October 2020 - 04:24 PM

I’ve noticed that one or two people like to use Guide for their double star observing charts or GOTOs.  This is pretty much open source and not updated much nowadays it seems so changes are infrequent and only when essential such that some of the provided datasets are getting out of date as the years progress.  Others, of course, don’t change at all over time.

The copies for WDS on the DVD, and of course on the older CD-ROM are out of date now (I bought my first CD-ROM drive just to be able to have Guide 2, which is so long ago it was manual push to release the entire drive and had a manual lift up lid!).


However, the CDS at Strasbourg have started updating their copy of it again around once a fortnight, changing their automatic scripts to use the GSU.EDU mirror instead of the USNO site which hasn’t been going anywhere for some time.




just download the WDS.dat.gz file and uncompress it, anything that uncompresses .zip files should also uncompress .gz files, including freeware and GPL applications.  You then need to place the uncompressed WDS.dat file into your main Guide directory on your hard drive, eg D:\guide .  The current update of Stelle Doppie (as checked yesterday) for instance is stated to be September, whereas the CDS copy has been updated twice at least this month, and again yesterday due to a glitch in the importing of the notes file there during the last update.  However, although pairs etc are added to WDS all the time and data revised and/or updated all the time, for most observers regular updates won’t be needed.


Of course you need a TDF to display it in Guide.  There is one below.  Just copy and paste the below text into a text editor and save it into the Guide directory as WDS.tdf.  Ensure it really is WDS.tdf and not WDS.tdf.txt as can happen without people realising in win7 onwards.  Incidentally, Guide can also work from Linux flavours in WINE if you’re lucky, as long as you save this file in the Guide directory that doesn’t matter.


And it is as simple as that.  Double stars are shown automatically at their J2000 position for fields of 5 degrees or less.  If that is not suitable due to field crowding, you can adjust via right click, display, Show At in the usual way.  If you want a wider field but less crowding use right click, display, and change from ‘on’ to ‘auto’ in the tick boxes and enter your preferred minimum magnitude which will be that of the primary star which should thin out things.  These are standard control methods for Guide so will also be in the manual.


Each double is displayed with a white filled circle drawn to the magnitude scale as used for stars by Guide, like any other non-coloured star symbol.  There is no use made of special symbols, the star is identifiable as a double/multiple as it will be labelled with its discoverer identifier(s) (eg STF 1, BU 3).


These objects can also be accessed directly using GOTO off the main menu option (the following can be enabled as a toolbar button too I believe) and then selecting the GO TO .tdf Object option (exact wording may vary slightly between versions).  This will lead to list of TDF objects, just scroll down to ‘WDS from CDS’ and double click on that.

Then simply type in the identifier and press OK and it will go to that double.  It is mostly straightforward, however there are a couple of vagaries due to the WDS more than Guide when using GO TO.


For instance, the WDS uses seven characters for the discoverer name, allowing a maximum of three letters and four digits.  For these cases the name must be entered as DISnnnn, for example STF1234, or else it will not be found.  For all other cases the WDS catalogue pads the name out with spaces, such that A 1 (should it exist) is written as A with five spaces and then the 1.  The GO TO feature has been set up to ignore repeating spaces so only one is needed such that A 1 only needs one space, BU 37 only needs one space and CHR 158 (all made up, but some may be real...) also only needs one space as does ES 1234, but DUN1234 needs no spaces.  A bit awkward but soon got the hang of, just goto again with either an added space or space removed if it doesn’t work.  Extra spaces are ignored if accidentally used (or should be...).


And despite the examples, the discoverer code does not have to be in capitals, case sensitivity has been turned off, so stf1672 will work just as well (if it exists).


EXCEPT, and again due to the way the catalogue is and not the software, sometimes a multiple can cause issues.  In these cases just either know which one you want or just try adding AB at the end.  For example stf1342AB, to distinguish from AC, and sometimes to get BC, as the object will be plotted at the position of the B star, not the primary of the multiple, again as a consequence of how the WDS catalogues things (NB none of these example pairs have been checked for reality).  Double star observers will be familiar with all this nomenclature juggling.

Right clicking on any labelled star will give a popup summary of details like separation (rho) and position angle (theta) for first and last observation (and the year) amongst others like muRA(cos) for proper motion in RA and spectral type if known.  As is usual with Guide if the star symbol for the double’s position coincides with another built in or user provided catalogue (eg Hipparcos or Tycho) the user may have to select the ‘next’ button to get it to cycle through to the star needed.  This will also happen with multiple pairs of the ilk AB, AC, AD, etc, as all will be plotted in the same position (that of the primary), so sometimes the user has to keep using the ‘next’ button (eg KR 60).  This shouldn’t be too confusing, the same likely happens with the inbuilt WDS display option using the DVD’s own older WDS dataset, so it is no worse nor better a situation.


Clicking MORE INFO in the help popup (obtained by first right clicking on the star symbol) gives a more detailed help screen in the normal way, including within it some extra information (eg the WDS identifier) and two link outs to extra data if the machine is connected to the internet.  These are underlined, and if you click on them you will be sent to the relevant webpage in your browser via a HTTP GET.  If your browser is not associated with URLs (hyperlinks) then make sure you have at least one browser window open first.  This is a Guide feature and normally walks as standard with Guide using inbuilt OS features from windows.  If it doesn’t work it is not because of the TDF.  Nowadays things like that can be blocked by ‘permissions’ and/or security issues, so you may have to look at those if there is no other logical reason for the linkouts not to work.  That I’m afraid is the user’s problem as it will be machine specific.


The link labelled WDS will send the user to the VizieR entry for all objects with the same WDS identifier giving full latest details (remember, these are currently updated fortnightly).  Some of those data are underlined at vizier such that clicking on the discoverer identifier will give the reference as a little popup, such that if you didn’t know ES was Espin, you will after doing that.  If there is a note marked N if you click on the N the note will popup in a little box too.  The notes files have expanded over the years and are very informative at times, at other times interesting, whilst at yet other times no use at all, all of these options being the case with all dataset notes.


The next one is labelled SD and that will take you to the Stelle Doppie entry for this double, this will be to that websites public front end, as if you had done a search without logging in.  I’ve no idea if it still works if you are logged in first as I have no account there.  It is possible the registered users screens have a different index to link to so this may not work in that instance, only trying will see.  Simply logout and try again if there are problems (you may have to flush your cookie cache first).  As with searching in Stelle Doppie if the object is a multiple you will get a list and you have to select which of the pairs you want.  The search is again based on using the WDS identifier in a HTTP GET link.  I’m afraid I feel I must mention that exemplary data base front end that Stelle Doppie is people have to remember that the data is from the WDS.  Often people will say ‘SD says this, SD says that’.  Sometimes this is just a case of shorthand speech (WDS as interrogated through SD says this is longwinded), but at other times people seem to forget that the data comes from the various WDS catalagues, and some things at Stelle Doppie use that data (as opposed to just showing it), for example orbit diagrams, and if there are any peculiarities the issue may not be with the WDS data.  Or it may be...  And check the SD updates screen to see when it was last updated compared to any other data source you are referring to if they disagree.


And that is more or less it.  It is far easier and quicker to do than it is to read this, and certainly than it is to write it!


Simply obtain the latest WDS.dat from either the above CDS link or the latest one from the GSU.edu mirror




however if you use the latter you must ensure you rename it from wdsweb_summ2.txt to wds.dat , and ensure windows hasn’t made it wds.dat.txt (which is not always clear if you have extensions hidden).


Ensure this is saved in the main Guide directory, the same one Guide.exe lives in (it might be called guide9.exe etc).


Copy and paste the below to a text editor or word processor and save it as plain text with the name WDS.TDF in the same main Guide directory (enclose the name with quotes to try and force it NOT to call it wds.tdf.txt if you have difficulties making it appear) and just play, remember no objects will appear above 5 degree sized fields as default).  The copy of the WDS DVD will not have the latest separations etc from GAIA dr2 (dated 2015 in the WDS catalogue), for instance, even for well known pairs and long known pairs.  Some stars in the current WDS have last observation values even more recent than that, up to 2019 at least, as this is one of the things constantly updated in the ‘live’ WDS as observations are entered into their systems.


It should work as is and not need any support.  If it doesn’t work then it is likely a vagary of your OS and other users of your OS will be able to help rather than a Guide user or a tdf writer.  For instance I’ve noticed over the years that the biggest problem some users not old enough to remember the days of DOS have is that they do not realise that Windows can hide extensions of files that are associated with an application and that they have indeed copied or saved or renamed a file to xyz.ext.txt instead of xyz.ext, and don’t know which directory to use no matter how many time you explain it.  Equally, they’ve saved something to ‘my documents’ or a library instead of using ‘save as’ and searching for the Guide directory.  Incidentally, a “directory” is often called a “folder” nowadays, sorry, I forgot...


The TDF is posted at the bottom, cut and paste anything between lines marked ===================, not including said lines.  Watch out for word wrap.  Most long lines should start with either ~r or ~b and WDS and SD links have lines that should all have ^\n as the last character so if a line wraps in the email or forum page that should be clear.  They should all also start with ~r  6 0 + \n^ or ~r  6 0 - \n^ (one of each for WDS and SD, this is because + does something in HTTP GET links so you have to replace it with %2B, but – is fine, whilst Guide uses % to mean things, so to get ‘%2B’ instead of crashing you have to put %%2B, in other wides ‘write %2B, don’t try to do 2B, - is of course not 2B...), each link instance being one line only.


Hope somebody gets some use out of it, I wrote it ages and ages ago and it has kept up with the WDS format throughout that time.

==================copy from the following line inclusive============
file wds.dat
title WDS from CDS
RA H  113  2
RA M  115  2
RA S  117  5
de d  122  3
de m  125  2
de s  127  4
mag   59   5
text  11  13
~b 11  13 %s
~r  1  10   =  WDS%s
~b  1   1 \n\n
~r113   8 RA  2000 : %R\n
~r122   7 Dec2000 : %D\n\n
~b 59   5 mag  %s
~b 65   5   and  %s
~b111   1   %s
~b 65   5 \n
~b 47   5 \nrho  %s arcsecs
~b 24   4  in %s
~b 53   5 \nrho  %s arcsecs
~b 29   4  in %s
~b 39   3 \ntheta  %s degrees
~b 24   4  in %s
~b 43   3 \ntheta  %s degrees
~b 29   4  in %s
~b 39   4 \n
~b 81   4 \nmu RAcos[Dec]  %s mas/y\n
~b 90   4 mu RAcos[Dec]  %s mas/y\n
~b 85   4 mu Dec  %s mas/y\n
~b 94   4 mu Dec  %s mas/y\n
~b 71   9 \nSpectral Type  %s\n
~b 35   3 \nObservations  %s\n
~r 99   9 \nDM  %s\n
~r  1   1 \n
~b109 0 O Orbit\n
~b109 0 C Linear & Orbit\n
~b109 0 L Linear\n
~b109 0 P mu is 10mas/y\n
~b109 0 X Dubious\n
~b109 0 S Optical\n
~b109 0 T Physical\n
~b109 0 U Optical\n
~b109 0 V Physical\n
~b109 0 Y Optical\n
~b109 0 Z Physical\n
~r110 0 D \ndeltaM cat\n
~b111 0 I \nID Uncertain\n
~b112 0 ! \nLost?\n
~r  6 0 + \n^WDS//xhttp://vizier.u-stra...1,5]%+%[7,4]^\n
~r  6 0 - \n^WDS//xhttp://vizier.u-stra...&WDS=%[1,10]^\n
~r  6 0 + \n^SD//xhttps://www.stelledo...rca= Search ^\n
~r  6 0 - \n^SD//xhttps://www.stelledo...rca= Search ^\n

epoch 2000
type 6
type sCffffff;
sort 0
label spaces
goto spaces
goto case
field 0.00 50.00
mag lim 120
shown 1
==================copy to the previous line inclusive===========




Bonus .tdf file.


At the bottom of the page http://www.astro.gsu.edu/wds/ you will find this file (warning, it’s 275 Mb and growing)




this is the WDS’s answer to index the massive lists of common proper motion pairs different professional surveys sometimes generate without adding them to the WDS and making it useless in practice, many are generated semi to completely automatically from survey datasets (and thus probably carrying a great number of false positives as some surveys have a tendency for quantity over quality).  This has expanded rapidly since GAIA dr2 of course, and is probably approaching a million ‘pairs’ now...  One side effect of professional surveys is they do not check against other published surveys nor the WDS for already known objects, although I believe the WDS team try to weed these out, that needs good positions all round, and sometimes things miss.  Sometimes it is for a valid reason, they are going to use the dataset for statistical studies, so they want it to be complete as by their own search definitions.  There are some WDSS objects that are actually known STF objects for instance.  This is an old issue and not unique to double stars in anyway (it is rife with variable stars from big professional surveys too).  On the other hand, some WDSS pairs are ‘extensions’, such that the WDSS pair are ‘new’ but the primary is actually the secondary to a known WDS double that was not known to be triple.  I’ve even seen cases where the WDSS data validly showed that either the primary or the secondary in a WDS optical double was in fact the secondary or primary in a true common proper motion pair with a third star...  ...that is the ‘classical’ double is optical but one of the two in that optical pair is a true previously unknown pair with a third star.


This is no real great  to the amateur per se, as many are quite faint, or even infrared only, or milliarcsecs apart, or worse degrees apart (these are the least likely to be real, or if real better described as part of ‘moving groups’ or ‘streams’ rather than binaries or common proper motion pairs).


However, on occasion people state that there is a ‘double’ that is not in the WDS in the field of their observation.


With this you can see if it has been listed somewhere as a common proper motion pair (or candidate if your a skeptic).  You could do the same by comparing the GAIA dr2 proper motions and parallaxes to a sensible lower limit, but that involves effort.


If you have it turned ‘on’ all the time it will flood your screen with ‘doubles’, many very faint, and some already in the WDS.  So you can ‘toggle’ it on and off as and when needed.  Or alternatively you keep it turned off but then set it to ‘auto’ when needed and input a magnitude cut off to avoid all the faint ones popping up (check the magnitude passband too, if a pair has magnitudes ending in K they are infrared magnitudes, or only has an ‘IR’ magnitude, then the pair will be far, far fainter visually).  All the objects are labelled.  Because professional surveys rarely provide separation and position angle this catalogue uses a line per component, so each object plotted at its position at the epoch of the survey, not just the position for the primary as with WDS.


Cut and paste the following to your guide directory and copy the file wdss_summ.txt there too.  This is completely unsupported, as it is for those who want/need everything but will mostly be of such little utility that not having it won’t be a disaster.  If it doesn’t show up when toggled on try editing the line ‘sort 1’ to ‘sort 0’.  I’m pretty sure this one comes sorted on RA, but it is a while since I last deeply investigated it.  ‘sort 0’ can be a bit slow if the datafile is large, another reason not to have it on all the time, but that shouldn’t be an issue with modern computers.


The WDSS is updated as and when, mostly depending on the publication of something relevant.  There is one recent ‘major’ professional ‘survey’ (Superwide) not imported into it as yet, but then again examination shows a lot of superwide is already in there from previous processional data crunching surveys.  But not all.


===================cut and paste from following line inclusive=================
file wdss_summ.txt
title WDSS
RA H  119  2
RA M  121  2
RA S  123  5
de d  128  3
de m  131  2
de s  133  4
mag   46   6
text   1  18
~b  1  18 WDSS %s
~r138  21   =  WDS %s
~b  1   1 \n\n
~r119   8 RA  2000 : %R\n
~r128   7 Dec2000 : %D\n\n
~b 46   6 Optmag  %s\n
~b 53   6 IR_mag  %s\n
~b 44 0   \nrho  %[38,6]  arcsecs  in  %[25,4]\n
~b 44 0 m \nrho  %[38,6]  mas  in  %[25,4]\n
~b 44 0 M \nrho  %[38,6]  arcmins  in  %[25,4]\n
~b 44 0 D \nrho  %[38,6]  degs  in  %[25,4]\n
~b 34   3 theta    %s  degrees  in  %[25,4]\n
~b 66   7 \nmu RAcos[Dec]  %s  mas/y\n
~b 74   7 mu Dec  %s  mas/y\n
~b 83   7 pi  %s  mas\n
~b 60   5 \nSpectral Type  %s\n
~r  1   1 \n
~b116 0 O  Orbit\n
~b116 0 C  Linear & Orbit\n
~b116 0 L  Linear\n
~b116 0 X  Dubious\n
~b116 0 U  Optical\n
~b116 0 V  Physical\n
~b116 0 N  Note\n
~b117 0 O Orbit\n
~b117 0 C Linear & Orbit\n
~b117 0 L Linear\n
~b117 0 X Dubious\n
~b117 0 U Optical\n
~b117 0 V Physical\n
~b117 0 N Note\n

pref WDSS
epoch 2000
type 6
type sCffffff;
sort 1
label spaces
goto spaces
goto case
field 0.00 20.00
mag lim 19
shown 3
=================cut and paste to the previous line inclusive=============


#2 wdstdf


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Posted 04 November 2020 - 08:02 AM

There's also a notes file for the WDS, and this too can be displayed in Guide.  But of course it is not as simple as that.  There has to be a linkage between the More Info entry for the pair of interest and the notes file so some minor formatting has to be done with the file from the CDS.  However, this file doesn't update often, and when it does it is only mostly for the newer objects entered into WDS, which are usually fainter and obscure and not of any real interest to people who follow STF, BU, HJ, I, DUN or similar 'classical' pairs, whereas the latter have notes that don't change much with time, so a current reformatted copy would last the general user a very long time.


Another problem was that zipped it was still too big to attach here, so I had to split it into two.


So, first the adding of the linkage to the TDF, where a couple of lines need entering, so in the part of the TDF that currently reads :-


~b111 0 I \nID Uncertain\n
~b112 0 ! \nLost?\n
~r  6 0 + \n^WDS//xhttp://vizier.u-stra...1,5]%+%[7,4]^\n
~r  6 0 - \n^WDS//xhttp://vizier.u-stra...&WDS=%[1,10]^\n




~c108 0 N Note in WDS\n
~n  1  10 \n\astro\guide\WDS.not\n


inserting in the middle so that it reads


~b111 0 I \nID Uncertain\n
~b112 0 ! \nLost?\n

~c108 0 N Note in WDS\n
~n  1  10 \nWDS.not\n
~r  6 0 + \n^WDS//xhttp://vizier.u-stra...1,5]%+%[7,4]^\n
~r  6 0 - \n^WDS//xhttp://vizier.u-stra...&WDS=%[1,10]^\n


the first new line lets you know that there are going to be notes in More Info (not all pairs have such, in fact they'd be the minority) whilst the second line lets the relevant note be displayed in the More Info screen.  The linkage is via the WDS identifier.


The file WDS.not has to be in the Guide directory, the same directory as the wds.dat file and wds.tdf file.  If it isn't, it won't break anything, the notes just won't appear (simply because they haven't been found).


The file will have to be sent as two attachments that need sticking together.  They will be zips.  Anything downloaded should always be virus checked, use jotti.org which will check a file against multiple well known virus scanners online live.


Download wdsa.zip and wdsb.zip.  Unzip them to the same directory or subdirectory where they will create wdsa.not and wdsb.not, two ascii/text files.  To stick them back together is easy.


This is for Win7 and earlier, Win10 is an anathema and abomination to me.  It'd probably be similar in a linux konsole with some minor syntax variation.


First you need to be in the CMD envirionment.  Either select RUN from the Start Menu or press the 'window' key and the 'r' key simultaneiously.  Navigate to your subdirectory/drive as needed, that is the one where the files are.


Then simply type :-


copy wdsa.not+wdsb.not wds.not


and you have the full file.


Alternatively just load wdsa.not into a text editor and insert/import wdsb.not behind it and save as wds.not (ensuring you don't accidentally make it wds.not.txt!!!, put "wds.not" if needed).


Or load two notepads, load wdsa.not in one, wdsb.not in the other, highlight and copy the entirety of wdsb.not then go to the end of wdsa.not in the other notepad and past it all behind it.  You may need to press the enter key before pasting to ensure insertion/wordwrap is in the right place.


Safe that as wds.not, copy it to your Guide directory.


I'll attach the first bit to this post then the second bit to a separate one.


Attached File  wdsa.zip   355.04KB   0 downloads

#3 wdstdf


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Posted 04 November 2020 - 08:03 AM

part two of the note file


Attached File  wdsb.zip   357.03KB   1 downloads

#4 wdstdf


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Posted 04 November 2020 - 09:36 AM

Well, now I've remembered how to add notes to Guide .tdf files we might as well go silly.


The WDS reference files don't really give much, and few of the references for classical objects are available online, or sometimes not much use if you find them (for Struve you'd need to know Latin for instance, although I've read somewhere that there was also a German and ?possibly a French? version).  Others were presented as bespoke Observatory publications, more or less monographs, and not published in the journals, so no doubt nearly only exist in limited numbers in old astronomy and observatory libraries.  Again, except for new observers or new additions to the WDS they are not going to change much, least of all for classical pairs.


[You don't need to do this, you can look up the references via the VizieR WDS link.  Last I looked SD doesn't have full referencing synched in as yet, but I haven't checked if it expands discovery codes to the full identifier.]


The real use of the reference file comes in when an observer finds an obscure identifier and wonders "ZWI?, who was ZWI?".  Well, ZWI was/is Zwiers (possibly pronounced tsveers) and if you need anything further well he published in AN 139, 369, #3336, 1895 (that's Astronomisches Nachrichten, but you can use the AN code) and if you go to adsabs.harvard.edu you may even find a scan of that online.  You can, however, add a name to ZWI.


So, unzip the attached file (after doing a virus scan), place the resulting wdsref.not directly into the Guide directory and add


~r   1   1 \n\n!REFERENCES\n
~r   1   1 \n==========\n\n
~n 11   3 \nwdsref.not\n


directly after the line in the .tdf that reads


~r  6 0 - \n^SD//xhttps://www.stelledo...rca= Search ^\n


placed at the end as it is best shown last on the More Info screen as some like Aitken have lots and lots of references and if you are only looking for a name you don't need to scroll, so all the other information and outlinking is shown first.


The ! character before the word REFERENCES tries to layout all following text for the the table in monotype, instead of proportional, for easier reading, but the source file was a bit fiddly to reformat this time so it doesn't always come out 100% clean, but is legible and followable enough if you really are into references.


Attached File  wdsref.zip   395.56KB   0 downloads


And that's that, there's nothing else to add.  Guide has a version of the 5th Orbit Catalog built in and if you follow the general help for a star with an orbit it will even autogenerate you an ephemeris (check this with gamma Andromedae for instance).  Linear solutions are referenced in the notes, but no details given.  Linkouts are not given to the imagefiles for said, those can be found at the WDS webpage mirror at gsu.edu

Edited by wdstdf, 04 November 2020 - 06:48 PM.

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