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Usage Notes

System Requirements

The recommended system setup is any of Windows 95/98, NT 4/2000 operating system or higher, on a Pentium 90MHz or faster, with at least 32 MB RAM running either Mathcad 8/2000, the free Mathcad Explorer 8 or better and 15 MB free on the install drive.

Future Modules

Future modules that make use of the formulas in this book must be installed in the same directory as the Astro Utilities. Also note that any annotations (see Annotate Book Options) to the pages here may be lost when installing an upgrade of this Electronic Book. Consider annotations to be temporary; permanent notes should be created on your own worksheets. Getting your own sheets to utilize the Astro Functions and Methods is explained in the Extending the Astro Utilities section on this page.

Viewing and Printing

This Electronic Book is formatted for 640x480 pixel resolution for ease of viewing on small-screen portable computers as may be used at the observing location. Maximize or resize the Electronic Book browser to see the whole page. Pages can be printed as needed -- though some formulas run over to two or more pages. To avoid printing formulas that span more than one page go to the menu and choose File/Page Setup… and check the Print single page width box.


In addition to the navigational techniques in How to Use a Mathcad Electronic Book, the Astro Function and Methods pages have a hyperlink bar on the bottom of their pages. Shown below, it contains links to the most commonly used help and information pages.

E-Book Navigation User Constants Usage Notes Astro Terms Support

Basic Usage

Throughout this book you will see sample input data displayed with a blue background. On the left side is a variable name and on the right the data; the assignment symbol (':=') is between these. (Typing a colon in an empty area of the worksheet creates this symbol.) To change this data just use your mouse to highlight and type over the value on the right side; try it here: . You cannot enter data on the right of a plain equals sign: . That equals sign is used to display the result of the expression or variable on the left.

Some variables are required to be in matrix or vector (one-row matrix) format. One way to create a matrix is to hold down the 'Ctrl' key and type the letter 'm'. Specify the numbers of rows and columns in the dialog that appears and choose the Insert button. An empty matrix with data placeholders appears where your cursor is. Click on the square placeholders and type in a value. Try it here: .

Once you have mastered these skills go to the customization page and enter your location and date/time coordinates. With no additional input on your part those values will be employed throughout the book to generate personalized results.

You can substitute variables of your creation into any function argument. If you create a variable on an existing page, use the View menu and select Regions to find an empty (gray) space to create the variable -- off the right side of the page is your best bet. It is important to remember that the variable must be created above the location it is first employed. Those wishing to make extensive edits would do better by creating their own worksheets as described in Extending the Astro Utilities below.

Extending the Astro Utilities

Accessing the Astro Functions in your own worksheet allows the convenience of combining frequently used functions on one page and the room to employ Mathcad tools such as solve blocks, charts and animated output to further examine these functions. This is also the first step in devising solutions to problems not covered in the book -- your own Astro Methods. In fact any of the individual Astro Methods sheets are accessible if you wish to use them as the basis for your own explorations. Creating personal worksheets will obviate the problem of losing annotations (variables, comments, charts, etc) made in the Astro Utilities when upgrades are installed.

When the Astro Functions are referenced into your worksheets the User Constants and their derivatives (found at the bottom of the Astro Function Index) are also. Referencing any of the Astro Methods automatically references the Astro Functions and User Constants.

Note that worksheets can only be created using the Mathcad program -- not the Electronic Book browser or the freely available Mathcad Explorer. The instructions here assume that the user is familiar with Mathcad or has reviewed the basics in the Mathcad documentation.

Employing the Astro Functions in Your Worksheet

Firstly determine the path and filename of the worksheet that contains the Astro Function Index. With the Astro Utilities Electronic Book open, click on the View menu and checkmark the Address Bar option. The address bar will reveal the complete path of any page you are viewing. Go to the Astro Function Index by clicking this link or any other link that takes you there. Use the mouse to highlight the complete path in the address bar, right-click and choose Copy from the submenu.

Minimize the Book browser so that the Mathcad program is on top. Either open an existing worksheet or create a new one and immediately save it. Click the mouse on the sheet at a point above where the Astro Functions will be employed. Select the Insert/Reference… menu function and paste the file-path (right-click, choose Paste) into the dialog. Do not check the Use Relative Path… checkbox unless you plan on moving the Astro Utility .hbk file and subdirectory file each time you move your private worksheet.

Go back to the Electronic Book browser to Copy and Paste any desired functions from the Astro Function Index to your sheet. Note that the return type <Ret> to the left of the function is not part of the function. Right-click on the pasted function on your worksheet and select Enable Evaluation. Enter values for the function arguments in parenthesis. With the editing cursor anywhere in the function hit the '=' key on the keyboard to view the result.

Employing the Astro Methods in Your Worksheet

Follow the same steps as outlined above except you must navigate the Electronic Book browser to the Astro Method of interest. Click on this link to view the Astro Method Index. Copy the complete path of the Astro Method from the address bar and paste into the Insert Reference dialog as above. Remember that any Astro Method automatically includes the Astro Functions and User Constants -- do not insert both into your worksheet.

Astro Utilities Electronic Book Copyright © 1999 Pietro Carboni. All rights reserved.