I'm pleased to introduce two new features in KStars that are aimed at kind-of working around the "catalog problem" that we have in KStars. As you know, we havee the Messier, NGC and IC, and a few custom catalogs, but it's frequently frustrating that an object that we want to observe / photograph is not available within KStars.
So I have incorporated two new "workarounds" -- which are really more than workarounds. They are general and powerful compared to installing individual catalogs.
This is motivated by two observations: 1) usually, with the fainter catalogs, we are interested only in a few "well-known" or "interesting" objects. 2) there has already been a lot of effort towards making publicly accessible catalogs -- by the professionals (SIMBAD, NED etc.) and by amateurs (eg: Cartes du Ciel and Stellarium).
Instead of duplicating the excellent work done by Cartes du Ciel and other open-source software, we attempt to provide functionality through inter-operability.
The first workaround is to query SIMBAD/NED/VizieR for unknown objects. This feature is explained in detail in the following video:
The second workaround is to parse text, notably from Cartes du Ciel's "About <object>" dialog, to incorporate objects in KStars. This is done by the following procedure in current git master:
1. Go to the "Data" menu, select "Manually add a deep-sky object" (although it says "deep-sky", it works for stars too)
2. You get a dialog like this:
3. Click the "Guess from Text" button on the bottom left
4. Copy-paste the text that has the description of the object. Make sure to include all relevant fields. In the example below, I'm copying from Cartes du Ciel. But it is designed to parse from a variety of sources, even just e-mails and forum posts such as
seem to work.
5. Check and correct any mistakes. KStars does not yet determine the type and blue magnitude. In this case, it has failed to recognize the name of the object, but has gotten all the other parameters correctly.
(The parsing will be continually improved to try and better results, but there's always cases where it will fail, like shown below)
6. Double check the information, choose the object type, and hit ok. It will save the object into a catalog called _Manual_Additions.
this feature is quite useful for me as KStars does not support GCVS catalog (and others) yet. So I can collect the variables which I'm interested in in my own catalog.
What is missing now is a way to delete my own entries, e.g. due to a typo or a duplicate entry. Having a type "Variable Star" would also make sense to distinguish them from the non-variables.
And here is an off-topic KStars question: The star depiction is rather tiny compared to other star charting apps. As my eyes grow older and older I'd like to have a means of setting the star size myself.
Yes, we do need a remove / edit feature. That is the natural next thing, but I'm afraid I wouldn't be able to get to it very soon. For now, the workaround would be to use an SQLite browser (like sqlitebrowser) to edit the database directly. The database lies at ~/.local/share/kstars/skycomponents.sqlite in Linux. Once you open it, it's a relational DB. So if you need to edit the designation (eg: typo in the name of the object), you go to the Catalog table, find the ID of _Manual_Additions, then go to the Designation table and filter it by catalog ID, and edit the designation. If you want to edit the data (eg: RA/Dec), you go to find the entry in the designation table as before, and use that to find the UID of the DSO, then go to the DSO table and find the entry by UID, and edit it. It is a messy and complicated process, and we ideally need a UI for it -- but we are short of manpower. I might get around to it at some point.
Adding a new object type (variable star) should be easy. I'll work on it the next time I have a chance.
A suggestion: you might have better results using SIMBAD/NED to look up the GCVS stars that you are interested in, since this is less prone to errors. SIMBAD seems to call GCVS as "V*", so "V* omi Cet" in the find dialog should take you to Mira, etc. You can also create a GCVS catalog (up to some magnitude limit) for KStars if you have the data. Look at the abell planetaries catalog for an example. Unfortunately, this process is poorly documented. If you nag me enough, I might be able to create it for you.
Finally, I agree that a star size slider would be useful. In fact, somehow, I've never been happy with the star sizes in KStars -- they fall of too rapidly compared to say DSS plates or the like. It's very hard to determine which stars are of what magnitude (I've noticed this when star-hopping). But I don't know how to fix this problem at a fundamental level. For now, if you play with the star density slider in the settings dialog, you should be able to get the stars to become bigger.