Named satellites.

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    Dr Paul Leyland

    I first raised this issue years ago but it bears repetition.

    The observation submission form allows tagging with named objects, such as “Neptune”. Omitted from the list are the names of planetary satellites other than “Moon”. When I submit an observation of a satellite I add the name of the orbited planet for the benefit of people who wish to search the database, even though the planet itself does not appear.

    The most recent case ( shows Nereid and an asteroidal interloper. Imagine my surprise to find that something as obscure as 16095 Lorenball is in the database!

    Could all the planetary satellites be added to the database of taggable objects please? If it helps ease the task a list of names and codes (such as Nereid == Neptune-II) which is believed to be complete may be found at


    Dominic Ford

    I think we need to draw the line somewhere. The object tagging need to be good enough to enable observers to search for images of their favourite objects, and BAA Section Directors need to be able to quickly find images that may be of interest to their sections. BAA members do often take images of quite faint / obscure comets and asteroids, and may want to compare them with others. But beyond that, the tagging system should be as simple as possible.

    Already a significant fraction of users clearly find the tagging quite tricky to use, and I am typically cleaning up the tagging of several dozen images each week.

    The BAA Sections haven’t historically tended to collect large numbers of images of planetary moons.

    As it happens, although the asteroid database is indeed large, it was very easy for me to build. I downloaded a copy of Ted Bowell’s database of asteroids, and filtered on objects with more than 10 years of observations and more than 500 observations in Ted’s database. That yields 155,000 asteroids… actually a very manageable number to just stick in a computerised database.

    As for comets, I just asked the Comet Section to give me a list. I got a list of 4,000 comets, and they’ve been happy to add new comets themselves as they appear.

    Dr Paul Leyland

    We agree that a line needs to be drawn. We agree that additions to the tag table, if any, should be as easy to do as possible.

    I could very easily write a sequence of SQL statements similar to “INSERT INTO tags VALUES (DEFAULT, ‘name’)” if the database schema were available to me, not least because I have exactly that kind of list in the code which creates my own image database. Your work would then consist solely of eyeballing it for structural correctness and then running the SQL on the database.

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