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Messages posted by: wildcard
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With apologies we have withdrawn Version 3.0.3 and will replace it with Version 3.0.4 shortly.

If you have already downloaded Version 3.0.3. we recommend you do not download it into your unit.

If you have already downloaded, we recommend you "roll-back" to version 3.0.2 which is on the web site.

With Version 3.0.3 we had made significant changes as well as to how the positions of planets are computed.
Like all solar system objects, their positions are a function of time.

As it transpires, there appears to be a bug which is a function of time in Version 3.0.3 that only happened for the first time today.
That bug will result in an ENCOUNTERED BUG error .

The firmware had been previously tested over the past couple of weeks so it is both unfortunate and fortunate that it was uncovered today.

We apologize for the inconvenience.
Seldom wrote:I'm not having any luck installing 3.0.3 firmware. Firmware update seemed to be working fine through load to 100%, but I'm getting an "Encountered Bug" message about 2 seconds after power up.

Have emailed Gary.

Hi Seldom,

We have received several reports of a successful upgrade including during beta test and now and three thus far of a problem similar to yours.

I have emailed you directly with he hope we can narrow it down.
astroal wrote:Have downloaded the Argonaut version 2 as well as the user manual. However, after reading the procedure in the manual to upgrade the Firmware, I am hesitant to monkey around with the unit that is giving me satisfactory performance. It seems to me that the advantages of the new firmware do not outweigh the hoops to jump through to reset Setups, Locations, user catalogues, etc. I am a person who does not dream in binary codes, so this is a bit of foreign territory to me.

Hi Al,

Thanks for the post and welcome to the Group.

Coming from version 3.0.1 or 3.0.2, the latest firmware is primarily about a fix to the computation of the orbits for some asteroids and comets. Not all, just some.

If coming from a version prior to 3.0.0, the enhancements are significant.

I can relate to the penchant of "if it ain't broken, don't fix it".

But in providing version 3.0.3 we hope to have provided user's with a choice of whether they upgrade or not either now or at any point in the future.
Plus we are here to assist if need be.

Wishing you all the best for the New Year!
Hi Robert,

Merry Christmas, thanks for the post and welcome to the Group.

Argo Navis allows you to align on any object at any time, including as the initial alignment stars.

For example, to align on Jupiter, dial up MODE CATALOG, PLANETS, JUPITER.
Ignore any NOT ALIGNED warning.
Press EXIT.
Press ENTER.
The display will show ALIGN JUPITER.
Centre Jupiter in the eyepiece and press ENTER.

Likewise you could also select any of the thousands of stars in the BRIGHT STAR catalog and use it in conjunction with MODE ALIGN in precisely the same way.

You can also create your own user catalog of bright stars, load them into the unit and then use MODE CATALOG, USER OBJECT, then use a combination of the dial and the ENTER button to access your star.
Press EXIT.
Align on your star.

By comparison, the MODE ALIGN STAR catalog is simply a convenient list whose brevity is designed for rapid access.
In a 20 Dec 2019 press release, the Planetary Science Institute describe how some 3,500 citizen scientist helped map asteroid Bennu.

PSI wrote:
When NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission spacecraft arrived at the asteroid Bennu, it discovered more rocks and boulders than envisioned. Mapping all these potential hazards was necessary to select a location to collect a sample of the surface for return to Earth. This effort was the work of multiple teams around the globe. One of those teams consisted of more than 3,500 citizen scientists who used CosmoQuest’s Bennu Mappers project to mark rocks, measure boulders, and map craters. Together, they made more than 14 million annotations of features on a global map of Bennu. CosmoQuest is a project that is based at the Planetary Science Institute in Tucson, Ariz. (CosmoQuest.org).

These volunteers had no way of knowing in advance if the sites they studied and mapped would be the one selected as the final sampling site for the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft. Folks who saw images with fewer rocks could hope “This is it!” But first, they had to first mark all the photos with hundreds of rocks and dozens of boulders so mission scientists could choose the images critical to site selection.

“It is amazing that more than 3,500 citizen scientists participated in CosmoQuest’s project to map Bennu and help mission scientists find the best place for OSIRIS-REx to collect a sample,” said Pamela L. Gay, Senior Scientist and Senior Education and Communication Specialist at PSI. “This kind of a volunteer effort makes it easier to find safe places to sample and scientifically interesting places to explore."

While the majority of people marked fewer than 10 images from the global mosaic, 68 volunteers marked 100 to 500 images, and 23 marked more than 500 pictures! Each image took as much as 45 minutes to complete, and these people put in weeks of individual effort during the four months it took to map this world.

Full press release here :-
erick wrote:Looks like I'm running out of excuses to TPAS my SDM! Thanks Gary, next quiet evening that I am setup under a clear sky. Cheers, Eric

Hi Eric,

Welcome to the Group.

All the best for the New Year!

Wildcard Innovations is pleased to announce Argo Navis Firmware Version 3.0.3.

To show our appreciation of your support, Wildcard are providing a free license (subject to your acceptance of our End User Licence Agreement) to Version 3.0.3 to you as a gift.

Version 3.0.3 is now available for download -

The End User Licence Agreement can be found here -

To download the firmware, you will need to have registered and have a copy of your Registration Code.
If you registered in the past, you will receive a reminder of your registration code by email in due course.

If you have not registered before, you will find the registration link on this page :-

We highly recommend that you also download the following -

* Argo Navis User Manual Edition 11.
See http://www.wildcard-innovations.com.au/documentation.html
This edition of the User Manual includes a description of how to install and use the latest Argonaut Version 2.0 software utility for Windows (page 160).

* Argonaut Version 2.0 software utility for Windows.
See https://www.wildcard-innovations.com.au/utilities.html
A similar utility for Linux are available from the same URL.

To perform the firmware download to your unit, you will require the following additional components -

* Argonaut for Windows or sgzload for Linux.
These can be downloaded from here -

* A serial cable for connection to your Argo Navis from your PC, Wildcard Innovations part number pn-ser-cbl.
If you do not have a serial cable and would like to purchase one, we can supply it for AUD17.27 (approx. USD11.74) plus an additional low cost Airmail shipping rate that differs according to your region).

(Residents in Australia only, cable + GST = AUD19.00)

If your computer does not have an RS-232 serial port, we recommend you use the serial cable in conjunction with the Keyspan USA-19HS USB Serial Adapter.
Wildcard Innovations also stock these as their part number pn-usb and can supply it for AUD64.00 (approx. USD43.90) plus an additional low cost Airmail shipping rate that differs according to your region.

(Residents in Australia only, USB Serial Adapter + GST = AUD70.40)

To purchase either or both of the above you can pay securely online using MasterCard, Visa or AMEX using this URL -

Start by selecting your country in the pulldown menu. Australian residents will also be prompted to enter a Postcode.

The cable options appear beneath the heading "Communication and Power Cable options".

If you require a serial cable, enter a Qty of 1 in the pn-ser-cbl row.

If you require a USB Serial Adapter, enter a Qty of 1 in the pn-usb row.

Enter your name, email address, phone number, shipping address.

Then press Pay Now. This will then connect you to a secure server at the Commonwealth Bank of Australia where you can enter your credit card details.

To install Argonaut Version 2.0, refer to the step-by-step instructions starting on page 161.

To determine which version of firmware your unit currently has loaded, dial up MODE STATUS, STATUS VERSION.

We recommend you use Argonaut Version 2.0 to save your existing Argo Navis setups onto your PC. See page 182 on "Transferring setups".

If you are migrating from firmware version 3.0.0 or later, Argo Navis firmware Version 3.0.3 will preserve your setups.

However, if you are migrating from an earlier version than 3.0.0, then version 3.0.3 will restore your setups to factory defaults so we highly recommend you use Argonaut to save the setups so you can restore them later.

Please note that loading Argo Navis firmware version 3.0.3 will clear any existing asteroid, comet, satellite or user catalogs you already have loaded.
You should ensure you have the original data for any catalogs you may have loaded stored on your PC so that you can reload it after performing the upgrade.

To download a firmware file from your PC to Argo Navis, please refer to page 187.

Version 3.0.3 contains the following improvements :-

* Improved solution for some comet and asteroid orbits.
* More reliable first-time power-up when real-time clock coin cell battery becomes depleted or is replaced.

Should you experience any difficulties, simply email sales@wildcard-innovations.com.au for assistance.

We thank you again for your support and we hope you enjoy Version 3.0.3.

Best Regards

Gary Kopff
Managing Director
Wildcard Innovations Pty. Ltd.
20 Kilmory Place, Mount Kuring-Gai
NSW. 2080. Australia
Phone +61-2-9457-9049
Hi Chris,

Thanks for the post.

All Argo Navis units are fully compatible with the latest version of the firmware.

A new firmware version is being Beta tested at the moment and we hope to have it available very shortly.
Multiple Star System Observing Program developed by the Astronomical League

Special thanks to Al Lamperti for forwarding this Argo Navis user catalog.

Al says, it's "quite an assortment of very interesting objects".
In a 2nd December 2019 article at Phys.org, Bob Yirka reports on an
interesting finding uncovered by pouring through data from
Australia's Desert Fireball Network.

An extremely slow fireball (codename DN160822_03) with an initial velocity
of around 11.0 km/s was detected by six of the high-resolution digital
fireball observatories located in the South Australian region of the
Desert Fireball Network.

By integrating its orbit, researchers say the object had probably
orbited Earth as a "minimoon" prior to reentry.

Bob Yira, Phys.org wrote:
A team of researchers at Curtin University studying data from Australia's Desert Fireball Network has identified a minimoon fireball. In their paper published in The Astronomical Journal, the group describes how they found the fireball and the methods they used to show that it had come from a minimoon.

As the researchers note, space objects that make their way close to Earth but do not immediately get pulled in by gravity are known as temporarily captured orbiters (TCOs), natural Earth satellites, or simply minimoons. Such objects circle the planet rather than plunge through the atmosphere and into the ground—at least for a time. It is believed most such objects do not circle the Earth for very long—they eventually succumb to gravity and crash through the atmosphere, or are instead flung back into space. As the researchers also note, to date only one such object has ever been recorded circling the Earth—an object named 2006 RH120 was spotted back in 2006 circling the planet—it did so for approximately 11 months before it escaped the Earth's gravity and made its way back into space. Also, only one minimoon fireball has ever been observed—a team running a camera network in Europe spotted one back in 2014. In this new effort, the researchers report a second identification of a TCO blazing through the sky as a fireball prior to hitting the ground.

The researchers found evidence of the fireball by pouring through data from Australia's Desert Fireball Network—a system of cameras (that also captures flight path) set up across the country for the specific purpose of capturing photographic evidence of a minimoon fireball. To find evidence of such a fireball, the researchers studied the photographs looking for evidence of any type of fireball, be it from a meteor or a TCO. Once found, the team used the flight path data to calculate the trajectory of the blazing object—objects circling the Earth before streaking through the atmosphere will have come in at a smaller angle.

The researchers suggest it is likely more such objects will be found in the coming years as more interest in them mounts—they represent an opportunity to capture a space object in its native state.

Article, map here :-

"Identification of a Minimoon Fireball" by Shober et. al, abstract,
THe Astronomical Journal :-
In a November 28, 2019 article at The Conversation, Roberto Soria,
a professor at the Sydney University of Sydney School of Physics,
discusses a mystery around the origin of a black hole dubbed LB-1,
which is about 15,000 light years away and is about 70 times as heavy as
the Sun.

Roberto Soria wrote:
This is very surprising for astronomers like me. The black hole seems too big to be the product of a single star collapsing, which poses questions for our theories of how black holes form.

Roberto Soria wrote:
What’s normal for a black hole?

Astronomers estimate that our galaxy alone contains about 100 million black holes, created when massive stars have collapsed over the past 13 billion years.

Most of them are inactive and invisible. A relatively small number are sucking in gas from a companion star in orbit around them. This gas releases energy in the form of radiation we can see with telescopes (mostly X-rays), often accompanied by winds and jets.

Until a few years ago, the only way to spot a potential black hole was to look for these X-rays, coming from a bright point-like source.

About two dozen black holes in our galaxy have been identified and measured with this method. They are different sizes, but all between about five and 20 times as heavy as the Sun.

We generally assumed this was the typical mass of all the black hole population in the Milky Way. However, this may be incorrect; active black holes may not be representative of the whole population.

Roberto Soria wrote:
LB-1 is the first major result of our search with LAMOST. We saw a star eight times bigger than the Sun, orbiting a dark companion about 70 times as heavy as the Sun. Each orbit took 79 days, and the pair are about one and a half times as far away from each other as Earth and the Sun.

Roberto Soria wrote:
Where did it come from?

How was LB-1 formed? It is unlikely that it came from the collapse of a single massive star: we think that any big star would lose more mass via stellar winds before it collapsed into a black hole.

One possibility is that two smaller black holes may have formed independently from two stars and then merged (or they may still be orbiting each other).

Another more plausible scenario is that one “ordinary” stellar black hole became engulfed by a massive companion star. The black hole would then swallow most of the host star like a wasp larva inside a caterpillar.

The discovery of LB-1 fits nicely with recent results from the LIGO-Virgo gravitational wave detectors, which catch the ripples in spacetime caused when stellar black holes in distant galaxies collide.

Full article here :-

"A wide star–black-hole binary system from radial-velocity measurements"
by Liu et. al. Nature, abstract :-
Kenneth Chang, New York Times, 25 Nov 2019 wrote:
Jupiter’s Great Red Spot is shrinking, but that does not necessarily mean that it is dying.

Earlier this year, amateur astronomers caught the red spot seemingly starting to fall apart, with rose-colored clouds breaking away from the storm that is some 15,000 miles wide. In May, giant streamers of gas appeared to be peeling from the spot’s outer rim, blown into the winds circling the planet.

The spot — which is red for reasons not fully understood — has become smaller in recent decades. Some Jupiter-watchers wondered if they were witnessing the beginning of the Great Red Spot’s end.

“We beg to differ with that conclusion,” Philip S. Marcus, a professor of fluid mechanics at the University of California, Berkeley said on Monday during a news conference at a meeting of the American Physical Society’s division of fluid dynamics in Seattle. In essence, Dr. Marcus said, the odd dynamics in the spot are just the result of weather on Jupiter, the solar system’s largest planet.

Story here :-

Abstract :-
In a November 15th 2019 press release, NASA have announced that :-

NASA wrote:
Even by the wild standards of the outer solar system, the strange orbits that carry Neptune's two innermost moons are unprecedented, according to newly published research.

Orbital dynamics experts are calling it a "dance of avoidance" performed by the tiny moons Naiad and Thalassa. The two are true partners, orbiting only about 1,150 miles (1,850 kilometers) apart. But they never get that close to each other; Naiad's orbit is tilted and perfectly timed. Every time it passes the slower-moving Thalassa, the two are about 2,200 miles (3,540 kilometers) apart.

In this perpetual choreography, Naiad swirls around the ice giant every seven hours, while Thalassa, on the outside track, takes seven and a half hours. An observer sitting on Thalassa would see Naiad in an orbit that varies wildly in a zigzag pattern, passing by twice from above and then twice from below. This up, up, down, down pattern repeats every time Naiad gains four laps on Thalassa.

Although the dance may appear odd, it keeps the orbits stable, researchers said.

"We refer to this repeating pattern as a resonance," said Marina Brozović, an expert in solar system dynamics at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, and the lead author of the new paper, which was published Nov. 13 in Icarus. "There are many different types of 'dances' that planets, moons and asteroids can follow, but this one has never been seen before."

Far from the pull of the Sun, the giant planets of the outer solar system are the dominant sources of gravity, and collectively, they boast dozens upon dozens of moons. Some of those moons formed alongside their planets and never went anywhere; others were captured later, then locked into orbits dictated by their planets. Some orbit in the opposite direction their planets rotate; others swap orbits with each other as if to avoid collision.

Neptune has 14 confirmed moons. Neso, the farthest-flung of them, orbits in a wildly elliptical loop that carries it nearly 46 million miles (74 million kilometers) away from the planet and takes 27 years to complete.

Naiad and Thalassa are small and shaped like Tic Tacs, spanning only about 60 miles (100 kilometers) in length. They are two of Neptune's seven inner moons, part of a closely packed system that is interwoven with faint rings.

So how did they end up together — but apart? It's thought that the original satellite system was disrupted when Neptune captured its giant moon, Triton, and that these inner moons and rings formed from the leftover debris.

"We suspect that Naiad was kicked into its tilted orbit by an earlier interaction with one of Neptune's other inner moons," Brozović said. "Only later, after its orbital tilt was established, could Naiad settle into this unusual resonance with Thalassa."

Brozović and her colleagues discovered the unusual orbital pattern using analysis of observations by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope. The work also provides the first hint about the internal composition of Neptune's inner moons. Researchers used the observations to compute their mass and, thus, their densities — which were close to that of water ice.

"We are always excited to find these co-dependencies between moons," said Mark Showalter, a planetary astronomer at the SETI Institute in Mountain View, California, and a co-author of the new paper. "Naiad and Thalassa have probably been locked together in this configuration for a very long time, because it makes their orbits more stable. They maintain the peace by never getting too close."

The research is available to read and download here: -


Royal Astronomical Society wrote:
A rare transit of Mercury will take place on 11 November, when the smallest planet in our Solar System will pass directly between the Earth and the Sun. The last time this happened was in 2016, and the next will be in 2032. During the transit, which takes place in the afternoon in the UK, Mercury will appear as a dark silhouetted disc set against the bright surface of the Sun.

The transit begins at 1235 GMT, when the edge of Mercury appears to touch the edge of the Sun, and ends at 1804 GMT when the edge of the silhouetted planet appears to leave the Sun. Observers in different locations will see the transit taking place up to 2 minutes before or after these times, as the planet will appear to take a slightly different path across the Sun.

On the morning of 11 November, UK amateur astronomical societies and public observatories will be running events where members of the public can safely enjoy the transit, as well as live webcasts of the spectacle. The Royal Astronomical Society will be supporting a (free) event run by the Baker Street Irregular Astronomers in Regent’s Park, central London, where members of the public can book places to come and view the transit using appropriate equipment at no cost.

Professor Mike Cruise, President of the Royal Astronomical Society, is keen for people to experience the transit for themselves. "This is a rare event, and we’ll have to wait 13 years until it happens again. Transits are a visible demonstration of how the planets move around the Sun, and everyone with access to the right equipment should take a look, or go to an organised event if the weather is clear, or alternatively follow one of the live webcasts. I do want to stress though that people must follow the safety advice – looking at the Sun without appropriate protection can seriously damage your eyes.”

The entire event is visible from the eastern United States and Canada, the south-western tip of Greenland, most of the Caribbean, central America, the whole of South America and some of west Africa. In Europe (including the UK), the middle East, and most of Africa, the sun will set before the transit ends, and so the latter part of the event will not be visible. In most of the United States and Canada, and New Zealand, the transit will be in progress as the sun rises. Observers in eastern Asia, southern and south-eastern Asia, and Australia will not be able to see the transit.

Mercury completes each orbit around the Sun every 88 days, and passes between the Earth and Sun every 116 days. As the orbit of Mercury around the Sun is tilted compared with the orbit of the Earth around the Sun, the planet normally appears to pass above or below our nearest star. A transit can only take place when the Earth, Mercury and the Sun are exactly in line in three dimensions.

There are 13 or 14 transits of Mercury each century, so they are comparatively rare events, though each one can typically be seen over a large area of the Earth's surface. A transit was first seen in 1631, two decades after the invention of the telescope, by French astronomer Pierre Gassendi.

At any time, Mercury blocks out no more than a tiny part of the light from the Sun. This means that the event should NOT be viewed with the naked eye. Looking at the Sun without appropriate protection, either during the transit, or at any other time, can cause serious and permanent damage to the eyes.

The Society for Popular Astronomy has an online guide on how to safely view the transit, for example by projecting the solar image with binoculars or a telescope. Mercury is too small to be visible using the pinhole projectors that worked successfully in the solar eclipse in March 2015, and similarly cannot be seen by using ‘eclipse glasses’ with solar filters.

Observers with access to a moderate-sized telescope with an appropriate safe filter should be able to see Mercury as a dark disc, comparable in apparent size to a sunspot, but somewhat darker. At the beginning and end of the transit, when Mercury's limb is close to the edge of the Sun, it may also be possible to see the 'black drop' effect, where a broad line appears to connect the planet to the solar limb. This is thought to result from the quality of the telescope in use, and turbulence in the Earth's atmosphere (so-called 'seeing'), and has in the past compromised efforts to record transit times.

As it is so close to the Sun, Mercury is difficult to study in detail using telescopes on Earth. Two NASA space probes have visited Mercury, Mariner 10 in 1974 and 1975, and MESSENGER, which orbited the planet from 2011 until a deliberate crash landing in 2015. The European Space Agency mission BepiColombo launched in 2017, and is expected to study the planet from 2024 onwards. UK scientists are making a significant contribution to this project.

Transit techniques are also deployed to study objects outside our Solar System, and for example missions like the NASA Kepler space telescope used it to confirm the presence of 2,662 planets in orbit around other stars. The same technique will be used by the European Space Agency's PLATO mission, expected to launch in 2026.

Press release here :-
moebius9 wrote:I am not very young and after some hours staying at the eyepiece, I feel tired.
So, I would like to sit down and go on observing on the screen of my PC. The goal is not to make great images, but just to see the object I aim at.
I have to learn how to use Argo Navis through a planetarium on the PC. I have the cable to connect the PC at the AN unit.


Hi Michell,

Irrespective of age, I think all of us, sometimes, when observing with a group of friends and waiting for your turn at the eyepiece, find it hard to get up out of the chair late at night once you get comfortable. smilie

Have you explored what camera/imaging system you might use yet?
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