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Site Updates

I've added a few new features to the site.

Distant Worlds Star Mapper: There are several new enhancements. Major ones include:

a: Chart settings

  1. Show R.A. and dec. lines: For locations near the Earth (within 32 light years), you can toggle a grid of equatorial (right ascension and declination) coordinate lines on or off.
  2. Show constellation boundaries: Also for locations near the Earth, you can toggle constellation boundaries on or off. These are the official boundaries you see in star atlases.
  3. Abbreviate Bayer/Flamsteed designations: Choosing this option will remove the constellation abbreviation from any label that has a Bayer (Greek) letter or a Flamsteed number. For example, α Dra would become simply α and 61 Cyg would become 61. This is best used with constellation boundaries, so it's clear which constellation the abbreviated labels apply to.
  4. Show all Bayer designations: Choosing this option will override the usual magnitude display limit and force all stars on the chart with a Bayer or Flamsteed label to display it, regardless of magnitude. The magnitude display limit will still apply to stars with a different designation, such as a proper name or a catalog number such as Hipparcos or Gliese numbers.

    Selecting all 4 of the options above will produce a view very similar to a chart out of a major star atlas.

  5. Identify Sunlike stars: This will place a small yellow cross around every star that meets the primary criteria for the Encyclopedia of Suns: spectral type V, luminosity 0.1 to 3.0 times solar, and no obvious spectral peculiarities. As usual, hover your mouse pointer over the star to get additional details.

Additional features after the break:

b: Catalog selection

You can now choose a star by its catalog number in one of three major catalogs: the Hipparcos catalog, the HR catalog (which uses the same numbers as the Yale Bright Star Catalog), and the Henry Draper (HD) catalog. This is useful if, for example, you want to pull up the view from any of a dozen recent exoplanets, most of whose stars have a HIP or a HD number, but are too dim to have a common name in one of the star menus.

Example: to view the Sun from Gliese 581, which may have a planet in its habitable zone, you could look up its Hipparcos number -- 74995 -- at any of a number of places, such as Wikipedia or SIMBAD, then use HIP 74995 as the "view-from location" and "sun" as the "look-towards location".

c: Image features

The Distant Worlds Star Mapper now uses a slightly different color scheme: spring green for most labels, orange for nearby stars, and yellow for the Sun. Coordinate and constellation boundary lines use dark, muted colors. These changes make the color scheme a little more consistent with the Encyclopedia of Suns. The star-drawing functions also generate slightly tighter star circles, which should make bright stars look a little more natural.

Encyclopedia of Suns:

The default star map is exactly the same as the Distant Worlds Star Mapper, except a few of the user options for the Mapper (like constellation lines) are pre-set in the Encyclopedia charts. The default image is much larger (800 x 600). Finally, the updated Encyclopedia charts include the "tooltips" from the Mapper (hover your pointer over a star to get more details). Since the updated Distant Worlds Star Mapper has many more features than the old static (StarStrider) charts, those are no longer available.

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