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     The Astro Utilities© Electronic Book             

Astro U Preview LinkBackground: Written by an amateur astronomer for amateur astronomers, the Astro Utilities is not a “dry textbook” in celestial mechanics. This work contains explanations, examples, and graphics that an amateur can immediately put to use in their observing program.  Composed in Mathcad Electronic Book format, users interact and “play” with “live” functions that look like equations.  The ability to “tinker” with and instantly graph any equation allows one to get a “physical”Demo Equation feel for the calculation.  All astronomical equations are referenced and the book includes a resources page with links to the reference material.  Installation and removal is professionally handled through the industry standard InstallShield program. 

Mathcad Connection: Users of the retail version of Mathcad can employ all the functions in this book as computational building blocks for their own Mathcad worksheets.  Others can download the free Mathcad Explorer (instructions in blue box below), which only lacks the ability to save new worksheets.  Either way, the examples in the Astro Utilities are customized to your observing location and time by use of data files.  

See It: Click the buttons below to see page sections from the book.  The best way to become acquainted the Astro Utilities is to read the introduction, reprinted below, and then follow the steps in the blue box (below-right) to preview, download, and install your shareware copy. 


Graphics appear in new pop-up windows.  Close that window to return to this page -- back arrow will not work.

M-dex Index BuilderMore Info: Comments on this product are welcome on the Message Boards.  Submissions of worksheets based on the Astro Utilities are most welcome for posting here.  Send them to  Experienced users will find the Astro Utilities/Mathcad User FAQ interesting; just click the link or button on the left.  The FAQ contains tips on getting the most from the Astro Utilities and working with Mathcad.  

Mathcad Software & LearningAuthors of Electronic Books can click on the left button for information on "M-dex" -- a freeware tool for creating a search index for your work.  Click right button for information on Mathcad software and learning materials

Jan. 15, 2002

Astro Utilities© News

Astro U 2000.2 UpgradeMathsoft, Inc. has traditionally released several versions of its Mathcad software. For many years there were "Pro", "Standard", "Academic", and "Explorer" versions. In particular, the incentive to produce the Astro Utilities Book in Mathcad format was the availability of the free Mathcad "Explorer" and inexpensive (under $100) "Standard" version. The last version of the freely downloadable "Explorer" worked exactly like Mathcad 8 "Pro" and therefore had more features than the "Standard" version. The big catch was that "Explorer" could not save worksheet files. 

With the latest versions of Mathcad, the "Standard" and "Explorer" versions were dropped.  Mathsoft has issued an "Explorer-like" product called Mathcad "Client" that will allow viewing files in the Mathcad 2000/2001 format -- it sounds like "Explorer" under a new name. But for some reason, it is *only* available to organizations that have multiple Mathcad licenses -- leaving the individual hobbyist with an expensive upgrade path.

Introducing the Astro Utilities ©

This Astro Utilities electronic book is a calculating tool for the practicing amateur astronomer that is familiar with basic concepts of the hobby and desires to do their own calculations, instead of relying on published estimates. Astro Utilities contains functions to conduct the common conversions and calculations encountered in planning and polar aligning hardware for an observing session. It is also an educational instrument that explorers selected astronomical topics in depth using Mathcad's graphical capabilities.

The heart of this work is a well-documented compilation of Astro Functions that include basic conversions between systems of time and place as well as phenomena calculations. Each Function formula has a working example that is customized with the user's particular observation place and date of interest. These Functions form the building blocks of more complex Astro Methods worksheets that utilize graphics to assist in telescope polar alignment, displaying sidereal time versus civil time, predicting basic phenomena, and explaining concepts from calendar leap-days to Earth's nutation wobble. As all the Functions and Methods worksheets are of a practical nature, no additional programming is needed to make immediate use of this work.

Being a straightforward and concise tool, not every equation in spherical astronomy and temporal relations is present -- but those interested can easily extend what is here. All Astro Functions are accessible by the user for inclusion in their own worksheets by use of the Insert/Reference menu command in Mathcad.

As an expanding work-in-progress, the author is interested to know what common calculation tasks the amateur astronomer would like to see in future versions of this and related books. Other works in this series will utilize the functions here as the basis for specialized calculations in related subjects such as phenomena prediction and performance of optical systems.


Preview and Download

System Requirements
Recommended system is any of Windows 95/98, NT 4/2000, or higher, on a Pentium 90MHz or faster, with at least 32 MB RAM, running any of: Mathcad 8/2000, free Mathcad Explorer 8 (see below) or better, and 15 MB free on the install drive.

Preview Li'll Glove Preview
Follow the Preview link to view static pages from the Astro Utilities Electronic Book.

Get MathSoft's Free Mathcad Explorer 
No Mathcad? No Problem!  Just download the
free Mathcad Explorer on the MathSoft website.
(This may disappear at some point - e-mail the webmaster at the lin at page bottom.) Note that this is a 12-MB file and may take awhile over phone lines. 

Download the Astro Utilities
Click above to download the 4.15-MB archive.  When complete, follow the WinZip Install Instructions to self-extract the install components to a directory of your choosing. In that  directory, double-click Setup.exe to start the InstallShield installation.

Astro Utilities Electronic Book Copyright © 1999 Pietro Carboni. All rights reserved. Electronic Book is a trademark of MathSoft, Inc. Mathcad is © 1986 - 1999 MathSoft, Inc. All rights reserved. Other trademarks are the property of their respective owners. No relationship is expressed or implied between any of the above and the author of this Electronic Book.

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