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.