Supernova Detector Assistant (SDA)

V 2.0.0

    SDA was written to help select Galaxies from the RC3 database that might spawn supernovae. The program is based on the TONIGHT SKY application and provides the same type of data. The difference being , SDA uses values in the imported RC3 catalog of Galaxies to provide a list of galaxies ordered  in descending order as to the probability of catching a new supernova.

The default sort order is  galaxies that  are oriented face on , the size of the galaxy in ac minutes, magnitude in descending order.
You  have a better chance of spotting something new in the flat disc of a galaxy as apposed to one that is presented edge on. Also, the bigger the galaxy the easier it is, as well as the brighter it is make it easier to see.

As with TonightSky, the searches are restricted to those objects that  will transit you  meridian  during the date/time specified. You may also filter the searches by specifying the  Minimum magnitude, minimum and maximum  transit elevation and size in arc minutes.
You will also be asked to select Elliptical , Spiral or all types.

The results of the search can be printed as default report, an observation report  or as output file that  will be accepted by EQTOUR 

The calculated values are close to be accurate. However, since the premise of this app is to  let the user know what objects are available over a given time span, accuracy of the calculations are not that  important.


  1. New Stuff
  2. Location Data
  3. Alternate Location Edit/Select form
  4. Selection Criteria
        Object Keys
        Other search option
  5. Result section
        Button Description
        Grid definition
        Galaxy shape
        Marking objects
  6. Detail Form 
  7. ASCOM Telescope Interface
        Form description
  8. Reports
  9. Calculator
  10. Direct coordinates


New Stuff:

 Version 1.0.0 (6/2/12) : New program

Version 2.0.0 (7/19/2015:
Added multiple Supernovae search based on Ella Kot's process
Modified RC3 Table to accommodate the new process.
SN update process will now update RC3 table as well.

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Location Data:

 The location  Latitude , longitude , Time zone offset and check the Daylight Savings time box if appropriate will be retrieved from the INI file from the  alt0 key.

If this is a new installation or the INI file does not exist the program will load some data into these fields to satisfy some of the logic with in. It is up to the user to change that  data for his/her location. The changes can be made on this screen and pressing the SAVE button or open the location edit tool and make the changes there. If you  use the edit tool you  must double click on the location name to load that  data into the main program.

 The get new version button will only appear if  a new version is on the server. Clicking the button will take you  to  the web site to down load the latest.

 A save button has been added to the screen. after you  make changes to the location data on this screen you  must click the save button for it to be stored in the INI file.

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Selection Criteria:

The next step is entering the time span you are interested in. You  may enter any valid date/time format.

 The program uses the set time as the start of the time span and midnight as the end as a default values.

The Start time is also used to calculate the sun, moon and twilight information which will change when you  alter the start time value. This change was made to  give you  a better idea as to what's going on around the date/time you  plan on doing you  observation. The previous version used the current system time to  calculate those values.

Next make a selection as to  the type Galaxy you  are interested in, Spiral, Elliptical or All . Elliptical Galaxies will spawn type 1a supernovae where as spiral galaxies can produce either type 1a or type II supernovae.

You  may also filter out from the report objects that  fall below the minimum transit elevation you  specify. Only  objects above the minimum elevation will be pulled fro the DB and displayed. 

If you  are interested in just  one object , enter the OBJECT NAME in the box provided (ie: NGC 4424)
You  may also enter part of an object's name, for instance if you enter AN* you  will get  all the objects who's name starts with AN.
When you  click GO the data will be displayed. This information is also available in the REPORT option.

Object Keys:

You may mark objects with some key. The key can be any combination of characters.
When you  get ready  to search for objects previously marked  enter the   KEY in the box provided and click GO or you  may enter the KEY with imbedded asterisks (*). The asterisk is a wild card character  that  will cause the search to  ignore the character that  falls in  the asterisk's position.

 As an example you  may have marked some items with the key ABC111 and others with ABC222.
If you  enter ABC* all records that  have ABC as the first 3 characters will be extracted.
If you  enter *2 all records whose key ends in 2 will be extracted
If you  enter *b*  all the records with  keys  that  have a B the  will be matched.

All the items that  match the entry  will be pulled from the database.

 A new feature has been added that  allows you  to enter a KEY and have those records who's key matches be EXCLUDED from result. This could be useful if you  want to see a list of objects that  have not yet been images. For instance you  could mark all the items you  have images of with the key DONE . By entering DONE in the key and checking the exclusion box, only  the objects that are yet to  be imaged will be displayed.

Other search option:

 This feature  allows you  to  make a query using the object name or part of it. You  can enter the complete name ( ie: NGC 4424) or part of the name using asterisks as wild cards characters (ie: NGC 44*). The latter request will display all the galaxies who's name starts with NGC 44.


    You  now have the ability to sort the result. The default sort is using the RA value sorted in ascending order.
     You  can also sort by:

  • Default
  • RA
  • Magnitude
  • Object name
  • Object Class ( Morphology type)
  • Declination angle

The Default sort order is as follows:

  • Ascending by date when Galaxies were detected- Those where no galaxies have been detected will be at the top of the list.
  • Ascending by distance . The closer galaxies will be toward the top of the list
  • the brighter of those will be at the top of the group
  • the larger of the group will be on top
  • and lastly those that  are face on will be toward the top of the  group.

You  can also specify Ascending or Descending sort order.

If you  want to see all  the details of the object you can click the detail button and another form will pop up  that  gives you  all that information ( see sample below)

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Result section:


The final section deals with your results. The results will be shown in a separate form. The the information in the database pertaining to your request will be shown in the data grid.

 Object viewing information is above the grid. This information pertains to the selected object. The viewing times are calculated 1 Hour after sunset and 1 hour before sunrise for the time the object is above the minimum elevation specified.


Buttons and report options:

  •  Report delimiter:  tells the report generator to use tabs or commas to delimit the various fields
  • Telescope Icon- invokes the ASCOM interface
  • Wiki Lookup - allow you  to  get  information about the object from the web site . Click HERE for a sample
  • DETAILS -   opens the detail window( described below)
  • Show object button -  Open a web browser window to to  provide a DSS image of the area in the sky matching you  selection.
  • REPORT -
    • Default report   generates a general report  of the data selected.
    • OPB report provide observation data .
    • EQTOUR report: tells the report generator to  create an EQTOUR output. This will be saved in the EQTOUR install folder with the other .LST files (typically C:\Program Files\EQMOD\EQTOUR). the file name will be formatted as follows: TSky_183_M_EQTour.lst . The numeric number in the file name represents the day of the year and the  letter following is the type of objects (  M - messier, etc)


Grid Definitions:

  • Name: - Common name for the galaxy . Usually THE NGC or IC designation
  • RA(hrs) -  Right ascension in Hours
  • DEC(deg)- Declination in Degrees
  • RA- Right ascension in the format HH:MM:SS
  • Dec- Declination in the format +/- DD:MM:SS
  • Mag -  Photographic magnitude
  • PCG Name -HYPERLEDA. I. Catalog of galaxies designation
  • Dist. Mpsec -  distance to the object in Mega Parsecs.
  • Size Arc Min-  approximate size of the major axis of the galaxy in arc minutes
  • log_r25 -  the log of the ration of the Major axis to the minor axis. This provides an indicator as to the position of the galaxy. The closer the value is to zero the rounder the image of the galaxy is. Increasing values indicate that  the view of the galaxy is more edge on.
  • Morphology - Coding used to  describe the galaxy. For instance S equates to a spiral galaxy where an E would denote an elliptical galaxy. Fo a more detailed description of the coding scheme click here.

The calculated values  for each selection in the grid are shown below the data grid.
 Note that  if the Transit elevation is below the one specified the background of that  field will turn RED .

The Angular separation between the moon and the selected object is displayed. This information might be useful if you  plan on bypass imaging objects that  might be too close to  the moon.

You  can use the navigation controls  at the right to move up  and down in the list or you  can select the row in the grid of the object of interest.  You can scroll up  and down the list by using the arrow key on your keyboard.

The columns of the grid are fully adjustable allowing you  to  make them wider or you  can shrink them. you can also alter the height of the rows.

The observation time is now calculated . This is the time that  the object is above the minimum elevation angle. Your actual observation time will vary with what  obstructions are in your field of view. Circumpolar objects are marked as always visible.

Marking Objects:

This section also has the box that  allows you  to  mark an object with a KEY. To do so;

  •  Select the object by clicking on it in the grid or use the navigation arrows to  move to the desired item.
  • Type the key code that  you  want to  assign to that  object into the ITEM KEY box  ( 5 alpha numeric characters maximum length)
  • Unselect the object by moving to  another object in the list

All the screens will be updated automatically  if left open and a new selection is made.

Click the DETAIL button to  get  more information about the object.

You  can  ADD, CHANGE or DELETE items in the Database by simply changing them in the DATA GRID. Once you  move to  another items or close the form the data will be written into the database.
When you  add items be sure that  you  follow the same format for the elements as you  see them in the grid. I've made it a easier to  enter the RA and DE data. For instance, if you  have the RA data in HOURS ( 13.02010) enter that  value into the RA box of the grid for the new item and the program will convert it to HH:MM:SS and populate the matching item in the record. The inverse is also true. enter HH:MM:SS in the RAhms field of the record and the program will  calculate the HOUR value and populate the  RA item. It works the same for the DEC values.

Galaxy Shape:

     You  will notice on the bottom right of the result pane an image depicting the approximation of the galaxy shape. The log_r25 value of the selected galaxy is used to generate that.

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 MSNe search:

The Multiple SuperNovae search is a process that Ella Kot developed in attempt to have a better chance at detecting a supernova in a galaxies which previously hosted SNe around the same time that a specific galaxy had a SN detected prior to the most recent detection.

How to use this feature in SDA:

1.      On the Query Settings page check the box " List Galaxies with MSNe" . This will provide a list of galaxies which had more than 1 SN detected ordered by detection date in descending order. If you have a specific Galaxy in mind you can enter then name in the Query Setting page and click GO.
The display will be something like the following.

2.      Now check the USE MSNe box and double click on the Galaxy row that you are interested in and want to use as a reference.
TO get only galaxies that are visible at your location during the window specified on the Query page, check the "Show Only ..."
box .

3.      The result , as shown above , will be a list of galaxies that all hosted a SN around the time that your reference galaxy hosted it's previous SN. The size of the window is controlled by
the " Observation Window Current Year +/- " week value entered in the box. on the Query setting page.

4.      You will probably want to make a hard copy of the list so Click on the REPORTS tab and select the OBS report. The report will be placed in your my_documents folder


Alternate Location Edit/Select form:

New for version 2.1.8 is the capability for the user to store and retrieve up10 alternated location. The information similar to  that  which is shown on the main page is stored in the INI file for future retrieval.

This form is access by clicking on TOOLS and Alternate Location  on the menu bar.


The first entry in the list is your default Home location data. The last entry in the list is the Telescope location data you  saved from the ASCOM. If you don't have an ASCOM mount you  can enter any data you wish  in this location. However, if you  do have an ASCOM mount and click the save location button it will overwrite  what's there.

When entering the UT offset value you  can enter the just number . The program will reformat the data so it can be understood by the main form.

IF you  want to DELETE and entry simply clear out the location name field ( Select the name and press DELETE on your keyboard).

Select a Location:

To select a location, simply, double click on the location name. The program will write the new information into the location fields in the main form and recalculate the times for the new location. After changing the location you will have to re-query the data base so the result form shows the proper times.

Detail Form:


 If you  feel that  you want to see the information in another format, this screen displays everything that's on the main page  and in the data grid.

Make your selection of the object on the main page and this form will update automatically.

You can modify the supernova table as you see fit. You can entries or delete entries. The underlying database will be changed.

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GMT offset Edit:

 This feature was added in  2.1.4 and allows the user to manage the GMT offset data in the database. The user may add, delete or modify  the GMT data  simply by scrolling down to the desired record and retyping the data or deleting the record. To add a new record go to the bottom of the list and type the information into the blank record.

 Checks are done on the offset value. An offset less than -12 or greater then 12 is not allowed.

You  may also filter the Country names by entering the beginning characters of the name in the text box and clicking GO. To get the entire list again, clear the text box and click GO.

When done just  close the form.

ASCOM Telescope interface:

The telescope interface is designed to allow the user to  select an object from the DB and then SLEW the telescope to it. This interface should be able to  communicate with any ASCOM compliant telescope mount. The software behind this function is modeled after the software that  drives EQTOUR and is used with  permission from Chris Shillito. I also want to  thank him for providing assistance with it.

This feature is invoked by clicking on the  Telescope Icon   on the result page after selecting an object in the data grid.
 Note: this Icon is only  visible if you  have ASCOM installed on your computer.

When you  invoke this function you  will be presented with a screen similar to the image on the left.

From description :

  • >>> button  - expands the form to the width you  see on the right
  • CONNECT button - once you  have selected and ASCOM TELESCOPE Clicking this button will connect the application to  the  telescope driver.
  • TRACKING check box - indicated it the mount is currently in the  tracking mode
  • Object name box - displays the name of the object that  you  selected from the DB. It shows the normal designation ( M102) , its NGC number ( NGC 5886) and descriptive name ( Galaxy in Draco)
  • RA/DEC labels- show you the RA of the object in HOURS and the Declination in Degrees
  • SLEW To OBJECT button -  Once the program is connected to  the mount this button will be come active and allow you  to  command the scope to  slew  to  the object.
  • OBJECT RA/DEC - Show the RA and DEC of the object in DD:MM:SS or HH:MM:SS format
  • GOTO AZ/ALT - shows the current AZ and ALT of  the telescope
  • GOTO RA/DEC - Shows the RA and DEC of the mount as it is slewing to the object . While it is slewing the numbers will be RED and a ABORT SLEW button will be visible as seen in the next image
  • SYNC button - sends a synchronize command to  the driver to  that  can be used to  build the pointing model in the ASCOM driver.
  • OBJECT IS BELOW THE HORIZON! label  ( right screen) - if you  select an object and ask the program to  SLEW to it and that  object is currently below the horizon this label will BLINK on and off. To STOP the blinking just  CLICK on the blinking label.
  • CHOOSE SCOPE (right screen) allows you  to  select the ASCOM scope you  want to  control
  • DISCONNECT button -  This button changes from Connect  ( if you  not already connected) to Connecting then to  Disconnect  once you are connected to  the scope.
  • MESSAGE CENTER - give you  an idea what  is going on with the program.


A " Save Telescope Location Data" button has been added that  will be active when connected to  and ASCOM mount. Clicking this button will read the Latitude and Longitude from the mount and store it in the INI file. This can be helpful if you  are at a site other than you  home base and want to quickly load the present location data into the main form.


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If you  desire a printable list of the results you  can click on the REPORT button and that  data will be written into  a .TXT file in the folder "My Documents".
The message box that  will be displayed when the file has been successfully created and shoe the name and location of the file . If you  with to view the file click OK. The Notepad application will be launched displaying you  most recent file.

The file name is constructed as follows:
    SDAddd-ttt.txt  Where ddd= the day of the year, ttt= type ( m,ngc,ic,etc) . When you  run the report it will over write the file if it already exists.

For those of you  that use the EQMOD package to  control you  mount you  can get  the list  printed in the EQTOUR format which  can be imported directly into EQTour. The file will be named Tsky_ddd-ttt.lst (Where ddd= the day of the year, ttt= type ( m,ngc,ic,etc) .)

This version will place the .LST file in the EQTOUR folder if It exists otherwise it will be placed in the "My Documents" folder.

An observation report is now available that tells you  how long the object will be visible for viewing or imaging. You get the total time that  the object is above the minimum elevation angle specified. It also tells you  how long it will be east and west of the meridian to help you  plan your session.

The normal and observation  report will now have the LOCATION NAME  in the header just  be fore the Latitude values

Normal report:

The following is a sample of the normal report output:

Supernova Detection Assistant
07/19/2015 8:41:20 PM

Observation Time window 07/19/2015 21:31:26 to 07/20/2015 04:23:48
For Location Home Location 40:50:25 N Latitude 72:54:50 W Longitude.
Sunrise: 05:35:46 Sun set: 20:19:43 Moon Rise: 09:07:47 Moon set: 22:12:08 Waxing Crescent
Minimum Elevation: 0 Maximum Transit Elevation: 90
Maximum distance (MPsec):

Report based on MSNe using , MCG -3-3-3, M 31, PGC 2675 , , SN Count ( 115 ). Search window 07/06/2015 +/- 4 weeks.
ALL Galaxies


PGC Name Rise TM Rise AZ Transit TM Transit EL Set TM Set AZ RA Dec Size Mag Obs.Time Lunar Sep. Dist. MPsec NAME Supernovae
PGC 60693 00:00:00.0 346 06' 53.6" 22:42:40 +064 08' 36.3" 00:00:00.0 346 06' 53.6" 17:41:06.0 66:40:00 01.0 15.1 07:16:03 089 54' ....... Null
PGC 61188 00:00:00.0 352 16' 15.0" 22:59:49 +060 09' 29.2" 00:00:00.0 352 16' 15.0" 17:58:14.9 +70:39:37.0 ---- 15.2 07:16:03 090 24' ....... CGCG 340-30
PGC 53070 13:23:52.1 077 00' 22.5" 19:53:16 +057 39' 26.5" 02:27:41.3 280 04' 47.5" 14:51:42.6 +08:33:56.7 00.7 15.4 05:19:59 058 50' ....... CGCG 76-79 2014an,
PGC 63616 19:39:31.4 108 13' 27.7" 00:46:32 +034 16' 49.1" 05:58:32.7 249 07' 44.2" 19:44:57.9 -14:48:11 18.6 10.3 07:16:03 132 19' -0.37 NGC 6822 TCP J19445890-1451183,
PGC 57882 12:13:48.3 029 33' 51.6" 21:22:27 +088 06' 03.3" 06:36:07.5 327 35' 06.7" 16:20:53.8 40:06:15 01.4 15.0 07:16:03 080 15' 145.34 A 1619+40 1953B,

Note: Object size is given in Arc Minutes
Objects with rise and set time of 00:00:00 are circumpolar objects and are always visible.
Lunar separation is the angle between the moon and the object.

EQTour output format:

The format for the EQTour is as follows and conforms to the new format which includes the magnitude of the object:

17.685;66.66666667;15.11;PGC 60693 ()
17.9708053333333;70.66028;15.2;PGC 61188(CGCG 340-30)
14.861826;8.56575;15.4;PGC 53070(CGCG 76-79)
19.7494166666667;-14.80305556;10.3;PGC 63616 (NGC 6822)
16.348277778;40.10416667;14.99;PGC 57882 (A 1619+40)

Observation Report format:

Galaxy Observation Report
07/19/2015 2:30:42 PM

Observation Time window 07/19/2015 21:31:26 to 07/20/2015 04:23:48
For Location Home Location 40:50:25 N Latitude 72:54:50 W Longitude.
Sunrise: 05:35:46 Sun set: 20:19:43 Moon Rise: 09:07:47 Moon set: 22:12:08 Waxing Crescent
Minimum Elevation: 0 Maximum Transit Elevation: 90
Maximum distance (MPsec):

Report based on MSNe using NGC 5837, , IRAS F15022+1249, PGC 53817, SN Count (2) as reference. with last SN [PSN J15044078+1237436] on 06/16/2015
Database Search Window: 03/09/2014 +/- 4 weeks.

Observation start should start on 06/23/2015 21:31:26 thru 07/14/2015 9:31:26 PM

PGC Transit TM Transit EL Obs.Time Start End Before T. After T. Mag Lunar Sep. RA Dec Name Recent SN date
PGC 60693 22:42:40 064 08' 36.3" 07:16:03 21:19:43 04:35:46 01:22:56 05:53:06 15.1 089 54' 17:41:05 66:40:00 Null 03/20/2014
PGC 61188 22:59:49 060 09' 29.2" 07:16:03 21:19:43 04:35:46 01:40:05 05:35:57 15.2 090 24' 17:58:14 +70:39:37.0 CGCG 340-30 03/20/2014
PGC 53070 19:53:16 057 39' 26.5" 05:19:59 21:19:43 02:39:43 00:00:00 05:19:59 15.4 058 50' 14:51:42 +08:33:56.7 CGCG 76-79 03/31/2014
PGC 63616 00:46:32 034 16' 49.1" 07:16:03 21:19:43 04:35:46 03:26:48 03:49:14 10.3 132 19' 19:44:57 -14:48:11 NGC 6822 03/02/2014
PGC 57882 21:22:27 088 06' 03.3" 07:16:03 21:19:43 04:35:46 00:02:44 07:13:18 15.0 080 15' 16:20:53 40:06:15 A 1619+40 03/11/2014

Note: Object size is given in Arc Minutes
Objects with rise and set time of 00:00:00 are circumpolar objects and are always visible.
Lunar separation is the angle between the moon and the object.

This report shows you  the total observation time for that  object and the time ( hours, minutes, seconds)  Before Transit and After transit . These times are based on one hour after sunset and one hour before sunrise where the object is above the minimum Elevation specified.


The calculator was added to allow you  to convert Degrees to Hours and visa-versa.

Simply enter the value in the box in the format shown above the box and click DO IT. The remaining boxes will be populated with the result.

The second part allows you  to  convert  Parsec to Light Years and visa-versa.

The third part of the calculator will calculate the  magnitude of an object given the magnitude and ADU of a reference star as well as the ADU of the object in question

Provide the data in the brown boxes , Click Calc. Mag and the result will be shown in the green box.

Direct Coordinates

This tool is found on the tool bar and allows you  to get some information about what might be located and specific RA and DEC coordinates.

You enter the RA as hh:mm:ss or decimal hours ( hh.00000) . The entry for DEC is the same +/- dd:mm:ss or Decimal degrees ( +/- dd.0000)

IF you  have ASCOM loaded on your system  the ASCOM button will become active and you  can request that  your scope go to these coordinates.

By clicking on the SIMBAD button a web query will be sent to SIMBAD to provide information about known objects around these coordinates.

The last option you  have is to make a web request to to get an image of that  region of the sky

Supernova DATA:

This application allows you  to update and edit the supernova Database that  originally came with  the program installation.

Click on the edit supernova data function in the TOOLS menu and you  will be presented with  a screen as shown below:

  • As you  can see you  have a few functions that  you can perform from here:
  •     Click on the GET DATA button so see what's in the database or you  can enter part of the name of a supernova to get the data for that  particular object.
    • MinMag - select SN with Magnitude equal to or brighter than that specified.
    • Min Dec - Select SN with Declamation Greater than that specified.
    • HOST - Select SN who's host galaxy is that specified.

  •     If you  have an ASCOM scope hooked up  to the computer running  this program you  can command it to slew to the location of the SN by clicking SLEW TO SN LOC. button.
  •     TO update the Supernova database from the Bright Supernova web site click the UPDATE SN DB button.

     You  may also change the information that is displayed in the grid by retyping the values.


To exit the program click the EXIT  button.

If you  have further questions or problems  contact me at

hope this provides some useful information

CLICK HERE to DOWNLOAD the latest version.