(c) Skyhound

Customizing Your Designations in SkyTools 3

     

SkyTools 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 follow, etc.

 

Pervious 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:

Common Name
Messier
NGC
IC
Arp
etc.

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 hierarchy.

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:

Arp
Common Name (disabled)
Messier
NGC
IC
etc.

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.
   

The 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.