Last updated 19 March 2002
A few people have expressed an interest in the format used in files such as STARTUP.MAR ("mark files"). Usually, they're working on scope control projects or have some sort of research interest.
The .MARs are ASCII files where each line consists of a number, a keyword, and one or more settings. The keywords are actually irrelevant, except to merely human viewers; it's the numbers in the beginning that Guide uses to interpret a given line. As you may have already figured out, you don't need to have all the lines in a given .MAR; for example, the "May 1994 eclipse" mark resets your date and time, and your lat/lon, and recenters you on the sun at a level where you can see the eclipse. But irrelevancies such as what printer is set up aren't included.
The following documents most of the lines I think people would actually use; I've not had time to go through and document all the lines. Please feel free to ask me if you think it would help for me to add documentation for some of them.
The very first two lines were added in Guide 6, and will be ignored by any older version:
999 name Gervase occ. in 1180 998 created 2450721.124664 601
Despite the numbers, these appear at the top of a .MAR file. Line "999 name" is used to give a proper description in the list box, instead of showing a meaningless GERVASE.MAR. It is omitted for STARTUP.MAR; Guide already knows to call that one "Initial Position". Line 998 contains the Julian Day the .MAR was last modified, plus a version number. (Shortly after Guide 6 was sent to be replicated, I decided to start playing with improvements. As of 21 Dec 1998, the version number was up to 605; with Guide 8, it's moved up to version 702.)
1 ra 51.044208 2 dec -17.406833 3 level 6.000000 These lines tell Guide that the chart is centered at RA=51.044208 degrees, dec=-17.406833 degrees, at zoom level 6. The RA/dec is always in J2000, even if the default epoch was set elsewhere to be something else. The RA is in decimal degrees running opposite of the usual convention: that is, an RA of 50 degrees would correspond, not to 3h20m, but to 20h40m. This is an unfortunate legacy of the early days of Guide. I thought of RA as resembling an x-coordinate, which would "obviously" increase from "left to right". Guide is therefore peppered with places where the sign of the RA has to be flipped. 4 mag0 106 Stars are being shown to magnitude 10.6. 5 markings 6607 6 automark c607 The above are hexadecimal values. A marking is turned on if its bit in line 5 is set; it's on "auto display" if the bit on line 6 is set. The following bits are used: Crosshair at screen center 0x0001 *(No auto) Border around chart 0x0004 (No auto) SAO numbers on stars 0x0008 Bayer (Greek letters) 0x0010 Flamsteed numbers 0x0020 HD (Henry Draper) numbers 0x0040 * HIP (Hipparcos) numbers 0x0080 * HR (Yale BSC) numbers 0x0100 * PPM numbers 0x0800 GSC numbers 0x1000 Common star names 0x2000 * Legend 0x4000 (No auto) For "no auto" markings, the corresponding bit in automark is ignored; that marking is either on or off (for example, there's no "auto" setting for the legend). The five asterisked markings are new to 6.01. 11 lat/lon -69.900000 44.010000 Specifies longitude West 69.9, North 44.01 (in this case, Bowdoinham, Maine: Project Pluto corporate headquarters.) 12 zenith 0 0=north at top of chart, 1=zenith at top of chart, 2=ecliptic north at top and 3=galactic north at top. 13 strfmt 77 12 These numbers give the formats for RA/dec and lat/lon, respectively. The first number is the sum of the following values: 0 for declination in decimal degrees 1 for declination in degrees/minutes 2 for declination in degrees/minutes/seconds 4 for use of +/- instead of N/S 8 for use of leading zeroes 32 to leave out the 'hms' letters in RA and ' and " in dec 0 for RA in decimal degrees 64 for RA in hours/minutes 128 for RA in hours/minutes/seconds 1024 for RA in decimal hours ...with 16, 256, and 512 having been either left out or obsoleted. So, the above example value of 77 (=64 + 8 + 4 + 1) would indicate RA in hours/minutes, with leading zeroes, and +/- used on declinations instead of N/S. And the declinations should be in degrees and minutes. It may be simpler to go into Guide's Formats dialog (inside the Settings menu), set the format you want, exit, look at STARTUP.MAR, and say, "Ah... that must be the string format number I want to use." 14 defepoch J2000.000000 The letter can be J=Julian, B=Bessel, D=epoch of date, and is always followed by the default epoch year. (For D=epoch of date, the year is meaningless and ignored.) 15 timezone -5.00 Specifies difference in hours between local time and UT. I'm set up for EST, with a five-hour difference. 16 currtime 2450537.124028 Specifies Guide's time when the .MAR was written. When Guide first starts up, it ignores this time in favor of that provided by the PC clock. 17 zonename 1 Look in the file STRINGS.DAT in your Guide directory, and you'll see that lines 156-164 contain the time zones Guide knows about. (In some of the foreign language versions of STRINGS.DAT, such as DEUTSCH.DAT, the zones and numbers are modified to correspond to European zones.) Zonename=1 tells Guide that you selected line 156+1=157, or "EST". It needs that information to know what text to append to time values. (The simple '-5.00' from the '15 timezone' isn't enough; it could mean either EST or CDT.) 51 language d This can currently be e=English, d=Deutsch (German), f=French, i=Italian, or s=Spanish (e for Espanol was already taken), or a=Japanese, b=Dutch, c=Russian, k=Chinese, j=Czech. 18 drive f:\ Specifies the CD drive letter. It's only used when Guide first starts up. 19 julian 0 It used to be that this could only be 0=Gregorian calendar, 1=Julian calendar. Now, however, the following values can be added in to specify the format in which dates and times are displayed: add 0 to show time to tenths of seconds add 2 to show time to full seconds only add 4 to show time to .01 seconds add 6 to show time to .001 seconds add 256 to show time to minutes only add 0 to show Day/Month/Year add 8 to show Month/Day/Year add 16 to show Year/Day/Month add 24 to show Year/Month/Day add 32 to show date only with no HH:MM:SS add 128 to show months as two-digit numbers, not three-letter abbreviations 20 home 3 Specifies your home planet; 0=sun, 1...9=Mercury...Pluto, 10=Earth's moon, 11...14=Io...Callisto, 15...22=Mimas...Japetus, 23...27=Miranda... Oberon, 28=Phobos, 29=Deimos. (Obviously, 3=Earth is the most common value!) Values extend up to (at present) 96 = S/2000 J 11, the most recently-discovered satellite of Jupiter. If you specify an observing position in Guide such as a comet, asteroid, artificial satellite, or probe, then additional text specifying that object will follow. For example, set your location to be the ISS and you'll get 20 home 3 ISS indicating that you're observing from the ISS, an object orbiting object #3, a.k.a. "the Earth". 21 inversn 0 0.000000 The first number can be 0=uninverted chart, 1=completely inverted, 2=flipped left/right, 3=flipped top/bottom. In addition to these sorts of flips, the second number specifies an arbitrary rotation in degrees. (It's almost always zero, but some people want to put North to the left or some such.) All these things are usually controlled through the Inversion Dialog. 22 printer 0 0 ! PRN 0 0 Specifies several aspects of printing behavior in DOS (Windows users can ignore it). In order, the fields specify landscape vs. portrait (0 or 1), resolution (0=lowest resolution, 3=maximum), the printer driver selected ('!' indicates none selected), the output file name (PRN indicates printing directly to the printer), and two fields that _may_ get used soon, if I have time to implement printing through GhostScript (right now, leave 'em both set to zero). 24 testflag ffff You may recall that Guide 5 had a "test flags" menu, used to control assorted things that were not quite ready yet (bitmapped planets, RealSky display, etc.) It may have some use in Guide 7 eventually, but right now, leave it set to hex ffff=all bits set=no test flags used. 25 marking 0 1 1 0 J2000.000000 125000.000000 100000.000000 15 131.62 (The final '131.62' is new to Guide 6.01.) Guide provides eight of these 'marking' lines; they specify (in order) how ticks, grids, hatches, side labels, an unused marking, the horizon, the ecliptic, and the galactic equator are to be drawn. After the first number (a simple index running from 0 to 7), it is specified whether the marking is on auto spacing (1=yes, 0=no); its type (0=off, 1=tick, 2=grid, 3=hatch, 4=side label, 5=equator); its coordinate system (0= RA/dec, 1=alt/az, 2=ecliptic, 3=galactic); its epoch; its spacing in each axis, in units of .00001 degree; its color index (15=white); and (in 6.01 and later) a number indicating, for auto mode, the frequency at which marks are to be ideally made (in the above case, Guide strives to have ticks at 131.62-pixel intervals.) For the epoch, see comments about line 14 ("defepoch") above. If you are using the current Guide 8 software, the "15" in the above line will be replaced by a six-byte hexadecimal number giving the color (RGB) to be used for this marking. That change was made as part of an effort to allow a full selection of colors and line styles throughout Guide. (You may get a seven-digit hex number, with the leading digit indicating a line style.) With the "original" Guide 8, or any earlier version, the color will instead be indicated by a number ranging from 0 (black) to 15 (white): 0 Black 1 Bright Green 2 Orange 3 Cyan 4 Yellow 5 Red 6 Brown 7 Purple 8 Blue 9 Magenta 10 Dark Green 11 Middle Green 12 Bright Green 13 Dark Gray 14 Light Gray 15 White 26 ap dia 0.000000 Specifies the diameter in degrees of the aperture circle controlled in the Measurement Markings dialog. 0=off. An undocumented feature: you can specify multiple apertures one right after another. For example, "26 ap dia .5 1 5" would get you 30', 1-degree, and 5-degree concentric circles. 27 mark2 cf This is another hex value. It would appear that lines 5-6 would handle all markings, and that some bits are even still available. At one time, all bits were used and a second "markings 2" had to be added on. In the past, more bits in mark2 were used; but now, only three have any meaning: Show GSC "non-stars" 0x0001 Show the CCD frame 0x0010 Show the Telrad 0x0020 28 altitude 100.00 Specifies a 100-meter altitude above the ellipsoid. 29 mag rang 100 Specifies that a range of 10 magnitudes is shown (as controlled in the Star Display dialog box.) 30 az convn 0 Default of zero defines the "normal" convention where azimuth is specified as north=0 degrees, east=90, south=180, west=270. Four possible bits added to 'az_convn' have the following meanings: Bit 1 resets to the "astronomical" convention, with south=0, west=90, north=180, and east=270. This is used more frequently in French-speaking countries, though even there, it's not all that commonly used. Bit 2 resets azimuths from 180 to 360 to run from -180 to 0. Azimuths from 0 to 180 are unaffected; azimuths from 180 to 360 have a full 360 degrees subtracted from them. Combine these bits, and there are four possible values for 'az_convn': value = 0: N=0, E=90, S=180, W=270 value = 1: S=0, W=90, N=180, E=270 value = 2: N=0, E=90, S=+/-180, W=-90 value = 3: S=0, W=90, N=+/-180, E=-90 Bits 3 and 4 reset the conventions used for display of hour angles in the Legend area. By default, these run from -12:00 to +12:00. Bit 3 resets this to run from 00:00 to 24:00. Bit 4 is intended for people taking telescopes across the equator; in this situation, it can be helpful to "flip" the convention so that (for example) an hour angle of 3:15 is displayed as 20:45. Thus, a value of (say) 6 would tell Guide to have hour angles run from 0 to 24, and azimuths from -180 to +180, with north equal to az=0. 31 margins 50 50 600 50 Print margins in .01 inches: left, top, right, bottom. 32 rescale 1.000000 Part of the "printer kludge" solution listed in the manual... specifies that the print output in DOS should be unstretched. Some Panasonic printers turned out to be slightly nonstandard, and required that this value be reset to 1.125 or .8889 before they would give round stars and an undistorted chart. Under Windows, it doesn't mean anything. 33 sizes 0 648000000 324000000 162000000 72000000 36000000 18000000 7200000 3600000 1800000 900000 480000 240000 120000 60000 30000 15000 8000 4000 2000 1000 (Wrapped around for clarity) Specifies level sizes in milliarcseconds. The first number specifies a size for level 0, which doesn't exist; after this, level 1 is set to be 648000 arcseconds = 180 degrees; level 2 is set to be 324000 arcseconds = 90 degrees; and so on, down to level 20 being a mere one arcsecond. 34 colors 7 15 4 4 1 2 3 15 15 15 14 15 15 3 15 0 0 0 0 0 This line defines color values for (in order) planet symbols, planet disks (when done with the line artwork of Guide 5.0... somewhat obsolete now), asteroid Xs, deep-sky objects, constellation lines, constellation boundaries, constellation labels, a no-longer-used marking, Greek letters and common names, Flamsteed numbers, SAO/HD/HIP/GSC/PPM numbers, the chart border, the aperture circle, planet trails, and the CCD frame. There are a few other items reserved for future use... thus the trailing zeroes. The color indices range from 0 to 15. For their meaning, look above to the discussion for "25 marking". 35 legend 2075 0 The first number describes what items are shown in the legend; the second describes its "layout". Both are written in decimal format, though they really ought to be in hex (since it is the individual bits in them that are significant). For the first number, each bit specifies whether a particular part of the legend is shown, as follows. Notice that in three cases, a bit set indicates that this part of the legend is shut _off_. Time 1 Lat/lon 2 Caption 4 RA/dec 8 Field of view/zoom level 0x10 Object key _off_ 0x20 Star size key _off_ 0x40 Compass _off_ 0x80 Sky Atlas 2000 page 0x100 Uranometria page 0x200 POSS plate (not used yet) 0x400 Alt/az 0x800 Ecliptic coordinates 0x1000 Galactic coordinates 0x2000 Hour angle 0x4000 Millennium Atlas page 0x8000 In the example given, 2075=2048+16+8+2+1, indicating that the time, lat/lon, RA/dec, field of view/zoom level, alt/az, object key, star size key, and compass are being shown. Bits in the second number have the following meanings: 1 Horizontal style (legend items are stacked left/right, not up/down) 2 Legend is centered 4 Legend is moved to right-hand side of screen 8 Legend is at top of screen In the example, this number is zero, leaving the legend in the vertical style at the lower left corner (the default situation). 37 Frame 0.979206 0.751226 1.500000 1.000000 3.019420 0 This line specifies, in order, the CCD frame center RA and dec (in radians); its width and height (in degrees); its rotation (in radians); and a Boolean describing if it is nailed to the center of the chart (1 if it is, 0 if it isn't). 40 view off 0.000000 0.000000 0.000000 This is part of a (pretty clumsy) way of specifying viewpoints other than those on planets. Right now, it's almost always (0, 0, 0), meaning a planetocentric viewpoint (topocentric if your home planet is Earth). The only way to get other viewpoints (right now) are the somewhat user-abusive systems described at http://www.projectpluto.com/useless.htm#Viewpoints http://www.projectpluto.com/useless.htm#odd_viewpoints Eventually, I'll figure out a reasonable way of managing this feature. The three numbers specify an offset, in J2000 coordinates, from the planetocentric or topocentric position. 41 ast a li 0 2147483647 The "Asteroid a (major axis) limits" store the values set (in the DOS software only) for limiting values of major axes. These can be used to require that, for example, only Trojan asteroids be shown... or only those venturing within 1 AU of the sun... or only distant minor planets. The limits are in units of 1/100 000 000 of an AU. The values given above indicate that no limits are currently set (all asteroids are shown, regardless of their minor axes.) 42 lx200 pr 0 Specifies the serial port for the LX200 or Sky Commander. 0=neither of these devices is hooked up. 43 track fr 2 Specifies that planet trails should have cross-marks at every second position. Thus, if you had made a trail with 5-day intervals, cross-marks would be added at 10-day intervals. 44 col spec 0 1=stars are colored by spectral type; 0=stars are not colored by type. 45 dpi, inv 300 300 0 1 (DOS software only) Indicates a resolution in DPI (in this case, 300x300), whether the chart is inverted in color (0=black stars on a white background, 1=white stars on a black background), and the number of copies to be made each time. (Normally, you would only print one copy of a chart, but DOS Guide provides an option to print multiple copies.) 46 data 4 0 4 0 7 0 4 0 5 0 7 0 4 0 5 0 4 18 28 26 4 30 1807 0 487 54 7 3 47 anim spd 0.000347222 48 outlined 1 1 31 164 0 1 A B C D E F Call the six numbers on line 48 A, B, C, D, E, and F. A = 1 if stars are outlined; A = 0 if they are not. E = length of the 'proper motion vector' attached to stars, as set in the Star Display dialog; it defaults to zero. F = the 'fuzziness' set in the Star Display dialog. The middle group of three numbers, '1 31 164', or 'B C D', specify how isophotes are shown. B has the following meanings: B = 0: filled isophotes, but turned off B = 1: filled isophotes, turned on B = 2: outlined isophotes, but turned off B = 3: outlined isophotes, turned on C and D give intensity levels for the dimmest and brightest isophotes, in the range 0 to 256. Thus, C=31 causes the lowest isophote to appear at 31/256 of the distance from "background" to "foreground" color. (In "normal mode", "background" is black and "foreground" is white, so C=31 corresponds to a dim shade of gray.) D=247 would cause the brightest isophote to be almost white. If you switch to red mode, where "background" is black and "foreground" is red, you'll see that the isophotes swap to shades of red. And in "realistic" mode, where the foreground is blue in the daytime, you'll see isophotes in shades of blue, and so on. Eventually, the plan is that you'll be able to click on an isophote and get the usual "OK", "More Info", "Next", "Display" dialog. The Display dialog will let you turn isophotes off and on, and the Options dialog will have [X] Show isophotes as outlines [ * ] Contrast [ * ] Brightness ...with the last two being slider controls, just as for planets. The underlying code is in place, but I've not had a chance to figure out how to hook up the interface. 49 lx delay 15 400 9600 0 2400 Indicates that Guide waits 15 seconds for a reply to an LX-200 command, and that once it does get a reply, it waits 400 milliseconds before sending another command. Communication runs at 9600 baud. The following number is zero by default, indicating that the scope sends and receives LX-200 commands in the short-precision format. If it's 1, it indicates that the LX-200 is using the "long format". As described at the above link, Guide determines the format in use by looking at the coordinates returned by the "Slew Guide" command. The final number indicates the baud rate used for Sky Commander or Sky Tracker systems. The default value of 2400 will almost always work, but some of the later versions of these gadgets can run at higher baud rates. (The advantage of this is a little doubtful, though.) Users of "real" LX-200s won't have to modify any of this, but some builders of LX-200 "clones" may have different timing or baud rate requirements. 50 enc syst 0 Indicates what sort of scope control you're using. 0=LX-200, 1=Sky Commander, 2=Tech 2000 Dob Driver (reserved for future use), 3=Mel Bartels' ALTAZ system. 53 curs rdt 1 Set to 1 if coordinates in the legend are updated as the mouse moves. This is the default behavior. Otherwise, it's set to zero. 54 starsize 5 300 Indicates that stars range from a radius of .5 pixels (smallest, dimmest) to 30.0 pixels (largest, brightest). This is combined with "29 mag range", and stars within that range are scaled logarithmically. 55 mag text 0 Indicates to what level stars are labelled by magnitude; for example, if this value were 150, then all stars brighter than mag 15.0 would be labelled by magnitude. 0=no mag labels shown. 56 ast labe 0 0 57 video 3 Current video mode. This is only used by the DOS software. 58 gsc ppm 150 This was used in Guide 5 to indicate that, if a GSC star was within 15.0 arcseconds of a PPM star, they were to be considered the same star. It has no meaning at all in Guide 6 or later. 59 gal size 20 9 Indicates that galaxy symbols should be 20 pixels wide, 9 high. Also indicates that other symbols such as boxes for nebulae, circles for open/ globular clusters, etc. should be 20 pixels across. 60 GRS lon 62.000000 Indicates that the user has set the Great Red Spot to be at Jupiter System II longitude 62 degrees. 61 quickinf -1 110 150 1 0 0 The first number, '-1', is a bitfield ('-1'='all bits set'), describing which parts of Quick Info should be shown. Right now, it's not recommended that you change this number; it's really reserved for future use. The next number, '110', indicates that Quick Info should list all asteroids brighter than magnitude 11.0. Resetting it to zero shuts off the list completely. The third number, '150', indicates that Quick Info should list all comets brighter than magnitude 11.0. Resetting it to zero shuts off the list completely. The fourth number, '1', indicates that Quick Info should list one set of lunar phases. (Given the way phase data is lined up in columns, Guide has to bump that up to an even number of lunar months.) Resetting it to zero shuts off the list of phases completely. The fifth number, '0', indicates that Quick Info should list zero days worth of Galilean satellite events. If you changed this to, say, 13, then Guide would show 13 days worth of data. The sixth number isn't used yet. 62 datacols 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 7 7 15 15 15 15 4 4 4 4 4 4 7 7 4 4 5 4 14 4 63 real CD k Normally, this letter matches that of your Guide CD (specified on "18 drive"). But this can be used if you have Guide on one drive and are putting RealSky and A1.0 CDs in a different drive. For example, I have copied Guide to drive F: and put RealSky and A1.0 CDs in drive K:. 64 line var 0.000 Length of the line of variation shown for comets and asteroids, in days. 0=no line of variation shown. 65 cometcrc eab73d1b A value computed by Guide and used to determine if the COMETS.DAT file has been changed. (In Guide 5, people sometimes modified COMETS.DAT to include new comets and were puzzled when they didn't necessarily show up right away. The reason was that Guide 5 didn't recognize that it should recompute which comets were visible. The sole purpose of this line is to cause Guide 6 and later to think, "There's a new COMETS.DAT... it's time to check out comets again.") I can't think of a good reason someone would want to modify this line. 66 color mo 0 0 ffffff 000000 000080 These five values all pertain to settings in the Backgrounds dialog. The first value is 0 for 'normal' colors, 1 for 'chart mode', 2 for 'red mode', 3 for 'flashlight mode', and 4 for 'realistic mode'. The second value is 1 if the ground is shown filled in (the 'Show Ground' checkbox), 2 if the horizon objects are shown, 3 if both are shown, 0 if neither are shown. The remaining three values are RGB colors, giving the color of the background in chart mode, in normal mode, and the color of the ground. The above examples specify white, black, and a "half-way", dark red. 67 projecti 4 This value is 2 if you've set an orthographic projection, 3 for gnomonic, 4 for stereographic, and 5 for equidistant. 68 planets 0 This value is 1 if you've selected "Use Full Precision" (for planets) in the Data Shown dialog; 2 if you've selected "Label Planets by Name" (instead of symbol); and 3 if you've selected both. It's zero if you've selected neither (the default). 69 TLE name bright.tle The logical meaning: this line specifies the name of the file containing satellite elements, and is altered when you use the "TLE=" feature in the Settings menu. 70 encoders 8192 8192 Specifies that the JMI/NGC-Max/MicroGuider III/Ouranos encoders (if any) have a resolution of 8192 steps _in both directions_ (alt and az, or RA and dec for an equatorial). 71 ephemer 403f -600 0 73 temp/hum 20.00 20.000000 1.000000 Indicates: temperature (in degrees C), humidity (as a percentage), pressure (in bars). I realize that, in theory, there ought to be settings for each planet. But right now, only the Earth makes use of this data. Computing refraction from, say, Venus (pressure=90 bars, temp=500 C, humidity=0) is beyond the scope of this software at present. (Though computing refraction from the Moon, pressure = 0 bars, shouldn't be too tough...) 75 panning 0.500000 7.000000 0 First number indicates that cursor keys pan half a screen (that is, hit left-arrow and you recenter on the center of the left side; hit Num-7 and you move diagonally to the upper left corner; and so on). Next number indicates that at fields of view smaller than 7 degrees, Guide switches to its more "detailed" deep-sky and variable star data. Above that limit, it shows no variables and only NGC and IC deep-sky objects. The reason behind this is that Guide shows a _lot_ of DSOs. If it had to puzzle through all the DSO data to cover a 180-degree field of view, you would have to be very patient indeed. So above a somewhat arbitrary level (defaulting to seven degrees), it drops back to NGC and IC objects only. You can raise that level, and thereby get Guide to (say) show all variable stars in a given hemisphere. But you will have to be a little patient; it will take time for them all to appear. 81 disp lim 18.00 181.00 0.00 1.90 0.00 40.00 0.00 18.00 The first two numbers indicate that Milky Way isophotes are to be shown at fields of view between 18 and 181 degrees. The next two indicate that DSS and RealSky images are shown at fields of view between 0 and 1.9 degrees. The next two numbers indicate that, on eclipse charts, city names are shown at fields of view from 0 to 40 degrees. The last two numbers indicate that nebula isophotes are shown at fields of zero to 18 degrees (i.e., those smaller than that at which the Milky Way is shown.)