Tools for Automated Observing
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  System requirements
Getting Started
  Modeling slew times
  Measuring camera
  download times
  Specifying filter
  names and numbers
  Modeling the local
  Creating user profiles
  Initializing target
  Customizing the
Daily Operation
  Starting observatory
  control software
  Updating target
  Generating a list of
  potential targets
  Preparing a list of
  observation requests
  Running the
  Starting scheduled
Image Acquisition with
the MU Script
  Customizing the
  Starting MU
  Sequence of events
  during an observing
  run using MU
Timing Refinement
  Collecting timing
  Analyzing timing
  Adjusting the
  empirical timing
Other Tools
  Slew time
  measurement script
  Minor Planet Checker
  query script
  Regression program
  Software updates
  License agreement
  Contact the author
Minor Planet Checker query script

The MPChecker script (TAO\targets\MPChecker.vbe) automates the task of requesting object identifications to the MPC's Minor Planet Checker service. The input data for this script consists of a text file containing astrometric observations (in MPC format) to be identified.

Customizing script

On the first time you run MPChecker, you should take some time to customize the script to suit your specific needs. This is done by editing the text file TAO\targets\MPChecker.cfg, whose contents are shown below:

radius = 30    ' Search radius (arcminutes)
magLim = 20.5  ' Limiting magnitude
obsCode = 860  ' Observatory code
timeout = 240. ' Timeout for ephemeris requests to the Minor Planet Checker (sec)

The various parameters which may be specified in this configuration file are explained below:

  • radius. This is the radius (in arcminutes) around the position specified in an astrometric observation which will be searched for known minor solar system bodies.

  • magLim. This is the limiting magnitude of the search for known minor solar system bodies. Objects fainter than magLim will not be listed in the output of MPChecker.

  • obsCode. This is the MPC code of the station where the observations were made.

  • timeOut. This is a timeout value (expressed in seconds) for identification requests submitted to the MPC web site. For example, timeOut = 240 means that MPChecker will wait for 240 sec after sending an identification request to the MPC web server before giving up on that request. The value of this parameter should be considerably larger than the average time it takes to receive the output of an identification request from the MPC web site.

Save the file TAO\targets\MPChecker.cfg after you have edited it.

Running the script

Open a DOS window (Command Prompt) and cd to the TAO\targets directory. To review the command line options for script MPChecker, type the command

C:TAO\targets\>cscript MPChecker.vbe ?

This will print the following help information:

Microsoft (R) Windows Script Host Version 5.6
Copyright (C) Microsoft Corporation 1996-2001. All rights reserved.

Usage:  cscript MPChecker.vbe file
file    A text file containing astrometric observations of minor planets or
        comets which one wishes to identify using the Minor Planet Checker. If
        the file argument is omitted or is a question mark (?), this help
        information will be printed.

The astrometric observations (in MPC format) of the objects you wish to identify should be saved to a text file in directory TAO\targets. An example file would be

     H3T301   C2003 10 03.15773 00 16 08.26 -45 04 12.7                      860
     H3T301   C2003 10 03.16492 00 16 07.24 -45 04 06.1          18.5 R      860
     H3T301   C2003 10 03.17078 00 16 06.13 -45 03 52.4          18.2 R      860
     H3T302   C2003 10 03.16737 00 31 28.26 -23 34 57.7          16.7 R      860
     H3T302   C2003 10 03.17323 00 31 27.68 -23 34 47.9          16.6 R      860
     H3T302   C2003 10 03.17728 00 31 27.21 -23 34 42.0          17.0 R      860
     H3T303   C2003 10 03.18787 00 14 10.61 -44 54 46.0                      860
     H3T303   C2003 10 03.20601 00 14 09.23 -44 54 46.6          18.1 R      860
     H3T303   C2003 10 03.21985 00 14 08.33 -44 54 46.1          17.7 R      860

Let us suppose that this file is saved to the TAO\targets as myObs.txt. To identify these objects, you would type the command

C:TAO\targets\>cscript MPChecker.vbe myObs.txt

After the script executes you will see a screen message like this:

List of downloaded HTML files written to:

The above file (which will be in directory TAO\targets) will list the file names of one or more HTML files containing the Minor Planet Checker output for your observations. In the above example, the output would consist of a single file named myObs_MPChecker_1.html.

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© 1999-2004 Paulo Holvorcem