data field definitions



 BAA VSS database

  data input

  primary format

  primary format example

  Excel spreadsheet

  data field definitions

  data conversion

  input software

  observer codes


observer name shall not exceed 20 characters. Helpful Hint: It is best you if you type your name exactly (apart from case) as it appears on the list of observers; e.g. J Saxton, as opposed to J. Saxton, J M Saxton, J.M.Saxton, John Saxton or anything else. This is because the database software tries to recognise your name and assign the appropriate observer code to the data. It doesn't allow you to enter the code manually as that would leave too much scope for error!

year has 4 digits.

location describes the observer location. This is stored as a text string of up to 12 characters; although its exact format is of no consequence, it may be convenient to give the coordinates, such as 53W, 1N.

instrument code is a number from 1 to 10, indicating which of the previously defined instruments was used.

object name has to follow certain rules:

Object names are case sensitive; for example, u Her is not the same as U Her.

constellations shall be given as their three letter abbreviations. They shall be given in all upper case, or first letter upper case and the next two lower case. No other combination is permitted. The constellation may appear first or last in the object name, i.e. RU Peg and Peg RU are both valid.

Greek letter shall be given as their first three letters (two for pi and mu). These shall be given in all upper case, or all lower case, but not mixed case.

Helpful hint: The database is currently set up for 1128 stars and the software attempts to match your object name to one of these objects. Further objects could be added if necessary. If you have a working copy of the database software, it is easy to determine if a particular object name is being recognised, by using the commands star and nstar. nstar prints out the object name (or names - some synonyms are permitted) for a star from 1 to 1128; and conversely star tries to find the object number for a user-specified object. I might add that the different sorts of variable star nomenclature do not make life easy for a programmer! If, despite following these rules, you still encounter problems with object recognition, please let me know.

chart shall not exceed 20 characters. If possible, one should use the BAA chart label such as 073.02. TA labels are also satisfactory. Failing this, some other concise but specific label should be used, such as AAVSO, or Henden.

month day (primary format files) The month shall be abbreviated to three letters, and consist of one of: Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Jly, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov or Dec.

date (Excel spreadsheet) The date must be given in the format 16-Sep-2004 as in the example. Other formats, such as 16/9/04, are not valid.

time (primary format files) The time shall be given as hhmm; leading zeros may be omitted. It shall not contain a decimal point. For example, 0835, 835, 2235 are all valid, but 22:35 or 8.35 are not. The time must reset at midnight, i.e. 30 minutes past midnight shall be written 0030 and not 2430. If you find it necessary to quote the seconds and use the format hhmmss, contact me before submitting the file (this should be possible but will require a change to the software).

time (Excel spreadsheet) The time shall be given as hh and mm; i.e. with the hours and minutes in adjacent columns - as in the example.

estimate The estimate string may be up to 68 characters long, including spaces, and may consist of up to five individual estimates. Individual estimates shall be separated by commas e.g. A-2,B+3.

If a fractional estimate is specified, the variable must always be V or v.

The comparison labels may consist of up to 8 characters. The numbers used with both the fractional and step methods must be integers and not exceed 9.

Spaces are ignored in parsing the estimate string. Comparison labels are case-sensitive.

Any Greek letters or constellations which appear in the comparison labels follow the same rules as with object names.

In a step estimate, A-2 denotes that the variable is two tenths of a magnitude fainter than A; A+2 would denote that the variable is two tenths of a magnitude brighter than A.

The following would be valid contents for the estimate field:
    A-2, B+3
    A (1) V (1) B
    zetPer(1) v (1) the Per

the following are not valid:

    A                                                 is this =A or > A?
    star000001(2)V(1)star0000002       comparison star labels too long
    A(1)V(12)B                                   can't have number > 9 in fractional estimate
    A-12                                            can't have integer > 9 in step estimate
    A(1)SSCyg(1)B                            variable must be V or v
    α(1)v(1)β                                      must only use ascii characters
    A(1)v(1)B, C ns;                           C ns (not seen) must go in the comment field

class of observation shall be given as 1, 2 or 3. 1 is a reliable observation; 3 a doubtful or suspect one.

comment shall not exceed 30 characters; it will often be convenient to use one of the one-letter codes set up by Dave McAdam. Dave McAdam also had a system of *x01* for see comment later in file; this is now discontinued.