Forums Variable Stars VSS FAQ?

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    Dr Paul Leyland

    I’m in a curious position in that I know a fair deal about data reduction but almost nothing about submission of observations to the BAA-VSS in the modern era.  Thirty years ago observations were reduced manually, scribbled on a piece of paper and sent through the Royal Mail.

    Andy and Gary have been very helpful, I’ve read the PDFs on how to submit observations and downloaded the spreadsheets (more on this in a  separate thread).  However, I’ve not yet found a FAQ covering the really basic topics.  For instance, what goes into the telescope type field?  NE is pretty obviously a naked eye observation, but is R a reflector or a refractor?  What other codes should be used?  The 30 year-old memories lead me to believe that a reflector is type T but I could very well be wrong.  Are different types of refractors (apochromatic vs achromatic for instance) distinguished?  Likewise reflectors?   What about catadioptics?

    Another question is how to record collaborative efforts.  Kevin Hills, Phil Charles and I have some observations to submit and although I’ve been given the go-ahead to use my observer code it would be good to have their contributions recorded for posterity.

    Other newbies may have similar questions.

    The real question: have I missed finding the FAQ and, if not, should we create one?  I’d be very willing to ask questions!


    Andy Wilson

    Hi Paul,

    The telescope type is in the visual observation spreadsheet. This is quite old, dating back to the submission format for the old text file database that was created in the 1990’s when database field size mattered. Today this is not so much of a problem, but I’ve not bothered changing the spreadsheet since it is what the VSS observers are used to.

    In the visual spreadsheet there is a comment if you hover your mouse of the ‘Type’ field on the ‘Observer Details’ tab. R is for reflector and G is for refractor (Glass). In fact this does not really matter and you could type ‘refractor’, ‘reflector’, ‘Meade 8’, ‘C11’, etc. The only limit on the visual spreadsheet is the total length of all the instruments must not exceed 255 characters. The database upload process checks this and will tell you if this limit is exceeded.

    In the photometry spreadsheet it is the ‘Telescope Short Description’ on the ‘ObsvEqmt’ sheet that matters. This does not actually need to be very short as the description can be up to 255 characters, though if anyone uses this much text I think they are being too descriptive 😉 Examples are:

    • RC 0.6m f/8
    • Meade 14 LX200R on AP1200

    For collaborative efforts, it is best to setup an observer code to cover all the collaborators and a special login.



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