Your Designations in SkyTools 3
introduced a new paradigm for organizing astronomical
designations in software. Many types of objects have large
numbers of designations associated with them from various
astronomical catalogs. Our goal was for each object in
SkyTools to have one primary ID that it would be known by
throughout the program, yet at the same time the user would be
able to look up the object by any of the many other designations
as well. Looking at the many designations it soon becomes
clear that some are more well known, and more often used, than
others. So we created a hierarchy of catalog designations
for each type of object. The most commonly used
designation would be at the top, the next most common would
versions of SkyTools forced our designation hierarchy on the
user. As an example, let us look at galaxies. The
catalog designation hierarchy went like this:
The top designation (Common name) is the primary ID,
unless there isn't one. If the object has no common name
then the primary ID is the the Messier number. If it has
no Messier number then the primary ID is the NGC number.
And so on. This is what we mean by a designation
But we found that different people use different hierarchies.
Some people dislike the common names. Some don't mind the
common names but prefer the Messier number to be the primary
ID. Others prefer to only see NGC/IC designations.
Still others want the Arp designation to be primary.
So now in SkyTools 3 we give you control over the hierarchy
throughout the program. The Designation tab on the SkyTools
Preferences dialog allows you to modify it to suit your
tastes. If you don't like common names, then clear the
check next to common names and they won't be used. But
more importantly, you can change the order of the hierarchy.
For example, to promote the Arp designations to be the primary
ID select Arp in the list. Click the Move Up button
until Arp is at the top. Your custom designation hierarchy
might end up looking like this:
Common Name (disabled)
In the above case the primary ID (displayed in your
primary ID column on the Nightly Planner) will be the Arp
designation. Common names are skipped. If the object
has no Arp designation then the Messier number will be used.
If no Messier then NGC. Etc.
Observing List Designation Columns
The Primary ID column of your observing list will display
the primary ID as defined by your custom hierarchy.
For many people this new scheme eliminates the need for an
alternate ID column altogether. For others the Alternate
ID column is useful for displaying a second ID. In
SkyTools 3 the alternative designation column always displays
the next most common ID for the object (the one that falls next,
below the primary ID in the hierarchy).
So in our example custom designation hierarchy for the galaxy
known as NGC 2608 (or Arp 12), "Arp 12" would appear
in the primary ID column. Since it has no Messier,
"NGC 2608" would appear in the alternate ID column.