TkParal
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A tool to prepare astronomical observations

Contents


Introduction

TkParal is an X Window interface for the Paral program of the former Radio Continuum Group of the Max-Planck-Institut für Radioastronomie, Bonn. Paral/TkParal is a convenient tool to plan observing runs at various telescopes. Based on source position and observatory coordinates it calculates azimuth, elevation, parallactic angle, rise and set times and some more parameters.

While many people prefer programs like Astro or XEphem to get information of this kind, I always preferred Paral because it calculates azimuth and parallactic angle as well, and the first derivation of all numbers. Thus you know how a source will be oriented in the sky, and how fast this orientation will change - both parameters which are important to plan e.g. On-The-Fly mapping observations.

One disadvantage of Paral was its very own format for input parameters, and its low tolerance for input errors. TkParal, the X11 interface for Paral, can help, since it detects most possible input errors before sending the parameters to Paral itself. In addition, it provides a list of often used observatories and their coordinates, as well as the possibility to select a source from a catalog.


Examples

See a screenshot of TkParal at work.


Copyright

The code and documentation of TkParal are copyrighted by the author. However, the program is freely available for non-commercial use, and you may even change the code to adjust it to your personal needs.

The software is provided "as is". No warranty is made for the usefulness of this package, and the author accepts no responsibility for any damage which may result from the use or mis-use of this package.

The Paral program © 1984 H. Andernach and the Radio Continuum Group of the Max-Planck-Institut für Radioastronomie, Bonn (Germany).
Many subroutines © 1971-1981 C.G. Haslam and the Radio Continuum Group of the Max-Planck-Institut für Radioastronomie, Bonn (Germany).


Status

The current version of TkParal is 1.4

  • Changes in Version 1.4  Released 21-Sep-2004
    • TkParal now can handle J2000 coordinates.
    • The precession subroutines were replaced by those available in the SLALIB library.
    • Now the APEX catalog format is recognized.
  • Changes in Version 1.3  Released 12-Feb-2003
    • The program was renamed from XParal to TkParal to reflect the fact that it is written in Tcl/Tk.
    • In order to port the package to Linux, I've rewritten some of the Paral code to avoid using subroutines which originated in the 1970s and were designed for computers like Cyber or Convex.
    • The Gildas catalog format (.sou) is now implemented.
    • A button was added for the source selection from a catalog, which is now a bit more intuitive.
  • Changes in Version 1.2  Released 19-Apr-2002
    • The output in the last table column is now UT instead of MST
    • Two more observatories were added: the OVRO mm-Array and ALMA/Apex
  • Changes in Version 1.1  Released 9-Feb-2002
    • Now it is possible to give a name for the output file (suffix .prl)
    • The catalog function allows to select a source from a given catalog
  • Changes in Version 1.0  Released 12-Nov-2001
    • This was the first version of XParal
  • Known problems in TkParal version 1.4
    • Depending on the settings, the LST may be wrong by up to 4 minutes. This is negligible for practical use. However, I will try to correct this for the next release.
    • Observatory coordinates may be slightly inaccurate.
  • Wish-list for future improvements
    • Add a graphics display of Az, El with LST as parameter. Most likely the PGPLOT library will be used for that.

Installation

The web address for TkParal is http://www.sc.eso.org/~mdumke/software/tkparal. Get the code by a http request from this site: tkparal.tar.gz. This is a gzipped tar archive. Uncompress and untar the file to create a subdirectory called "TkParal". In the subdirectory TkParal/main, type "make" to compile the main Paral program. Second, type "make clean" to delete unneeded object files, and third edit the Tcl/Tk script tkparal to reflect the location of the installation directory and the default directory where your source catalogs reside. Then copy tkparal to a directory which is in your $PATH environment variable.

You will further need the following software:

  • Some system tools: a F77 compiler, and programs to retrieve and unpack the package (TAR, GUNZIP).
  • The Tcl/Tk libraries. These are already included in most Linux distributions, or can be obtained from the Tcl Developer Site

Since TkParal is just a script, it should run on any platform where Tcl/Tk is installed. I developed it using Tcl/Tk release 8.3.0. The compilation of the underlying Paral program should also be straightforward. Please adjust the makefile to your system, if necessary.
The package has been successfully installed and tested on Linux (SuSE, Fedora) and Solaris (SunOS 5.6 and higher).


Contact

If you have questions about TkParal, please send them to Michael Dumke, preferably by e-mail to mdumke(at)eso.org. If you have a problem with the installation, please include information about your operating system version, Fortran compiler, and the version of Tcl/Tk you are using.


© 2000 - 2011 Michael Dumke. Any view or statement made on this page is not part of an official standpoint of ESO. Last modified: 20 November 2011.