Observing Tools

A while back, I wrote some tools that I use for planning my observations. Now, I finally found the time to update them and turn them into publicly accessible websites. The tools are:

Observation Planner

This tool plots visibility curves indicating target elevation and airmass over the course of a whole night, which is either the current or coming night, or any night the user selects.  A number of moving and fixed targets can be displayed in the plot at a time, as shown in the example below. The purpose of this tool is to make it easier to decide which object to observe next. The black vertical represents the current time; dusk and dawn are also shown.


Pointing and Finder Tool

The idea behind this tool is to minimize the time necessary to obtain coordinates for moving targets and to create a finder chart to identify the target. Simply enter the target name and a time – or just select the current time – and the tool will provide pointing information including RA, Dec, the target’s rates, visual brightness, and airmass, as well as a finder chart indicating the target’s position at different times (see below). The tool can also be used to generate finder charts for fixed targets.



Both tools are currently set up for only a small number of observatories. If you would like to use these tools for your own observations, let me know and I can add your favorite observatory. Also, don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any other suggestions or comments!