Database Management

Some types of databases will allow you to categorize, sort and retrieve the observations that you will collect over the years. Perhaps, in the beginning you may not feel a need for a computerized method, but as the years go by, you'll be surprised at the amount of information that you collect.

Within any database system, the field names are used to label each category of information, such as date, brightness estimate, type of observation, etc. Take a good look at your analysis needs and develop your field names with that requirement in mind. By doing so, you can move blocks of information from your database into your spreadsheet, for analysis, by simply using cut and paste. The reverse is also true; you will be able to move data from your spreadsheet into your database by using cut and paste.

Within the database, by carefully selecting your field names, you will be able to perform several valuable sort operations too. I recommend that you always prepare a master database, in which you enter your data. You may want a backup copy of this master file too. From the master database, prepare a working copy with which you can perform your sort operations. This way, if you make a mistake with the working copy, you can always go back to your master database and start again without losing any data.

A simple database, with field names, may look like this:

Date/time Object Type Mag. Est. Comp. star Chart

Of course, you can make a database with many more fields but this simple example may serve as a good beginning. The "Date/time" should be your local date/time. When reporting variable star estimates, you can changc to Julian date. The field name "Object" is used instead of simply "star" so that galaxy names can be entered when conducting supernovae searches. The "Type" allows you to indicate the type of

Observing Variable variable star, such as Delta Scuti or CV, for example. The magnitude estimate should be based upon the "Comp. star" from the indicated "Chart."

Appendix B

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