Updated software for Guide 8.0

This page will only help if you have the Guide 8.0 CDs; click here for updates to Guide 7 or here for updates to Guide 6 or here for updates to Guide 5, or here for information about ordering Guide 8.

Japanese version here

It's recommended that you return to this page from time to time. There is a long list of possible improvements to Guide that will be worked on in the coming months, and they will be reflected on this page.

Also, be aware that at times, there is an "in-testing" version of the software. This will incorporate new features and bug fixes; it's usually not considered quite ready for this page, either because bugs still need fixing or the features aren't completely done.

How to use the update files: To get the update and the features listed below, download one of the following three files and unZIP it in your Guide directory. Important: if you run Guide in a language other than English, you'll also need to download and unZIP one or more of the "language" files offered below, if such a file is provided. Also, it's a good idea to read through the list of new features (following the download section) to see what you're getting.

32-bit (Win95/98/NT/XP/Vista/Win7,8,10) update (GUIDE8.ZIP) (about 1250 KBytes)
16-bit (Win3.1) update (GUIDE8A.ZIP) (about 585 KBytes)
32-bit DOS software (DOSGUIDE.ZIP) (about 805 KBytes)

(Note that update files aren't available for all languages yet. In such cases, some new features won't be translated.)

Chinese Dutch French (27K)
German (232K) Italian (75K) Japanese (24K)
Russian (29K) Spanish (14K) Czech (15K)
Polish (38 K) Hungarian (35K)

Improvements so far, in reverse chronological order:

(2011 August 13) Some scope fixes and debugging: I've had a few reports of very mysterious scope misbehavior. In some cases, Guide reports errors even though all appears to be going well. In hopes of tracking this down, I've revised Guide so that it produces a scope.log file. If you run into scope control issues, please send me this file; it will tell me almost everything about what commands Guide sent to the telescope and what replies it got back, and how it tried to interpret them. I will very much appreciate such files. A major problem with scope control is that almost every system is a little bit different, making it nearly impossible for me to replicate errors on my own hardware. Having the really detailed logging data from scope.log will, I think, allow me to fix things anyway.

People seeing "nuisance messages", where Guide reports an error even though all appears to be working, should e-mail their scope.log file to me (very important!), and also hit Alt-J and enter the following:


This will simply suppress scope error messages (they will still be written to scope.log so you can send them to me). To turn error messages back on, hit Alt-J again and enter


(2011 April 11) Shutdown fix: Several people have reported problems over the last couple of years involving the file startup.mar getting clobbered, reduced to a size of zero bytes. This caused several problems, but the usual sign of trouble was that Guide would start asking for the CD-ROM, even if you'd installed to the hard drive. The subject came up on the Guide user list, and it appears to happen (at least sometimes, for some people) when the computer is shut down with Guide still running. Given that clue, I was able to find and (I think) fix the problem.

(2011 Mar 2) Fix for Celestron scopes: Several people on the Guide user list pointed out problems in Guide's control of Celestron scopes. Specifically, they were able to use "Slew Scope", but not "Slew Guide". I think I've fixed this.

(2011 Mar 2) Constellation boundary fixes: Luc Desamore raised some points that caused me to make some repairs to the way constellation boundaries are handled. Specifically, they vanished when one zooms in (at least, in certain projections, including the default stereographic projection). Also, the constellation shown in the Legend area tended to be approximate; there could be an error of an arcminute or so, due to an approximation I had made a very long time ago. Both problems are fixed. (The constellation boundaries are displayed with errors of up to a few arcseconds. But the readout in the Legend area is now exact.)

(2011 Mar 2) Improvements to Galilean satellite ephemerides: Guide has been using Lieske's E2x3 theory, as described in the first edition of Jean Meeus' Astronomical Algorithms. I was a little slow in realizing that the second edition of that book uses the E5 theory, which is a substantial improvement over E2x3. It appears to give positions that match those from JPL's Horizons system to within a hundred kilometers or so for dates within a couple of decades of the present. (The JPL ephemerides incorporate a lot of more recent observations, including some from the Galileo probe, so I'm assuming any errors I see are from the E5 theory.)

Incidentally, anyone using my basic astronomical functions source code library might want to grab the latest version of the code.

(2010 Oct 22) Yet another fix for DSS downloads: It turned out that the fix described below could actually cause more trouble than it fixed! I did a more thorough job, with better checking for trouble cases where a file is being overwritten and such. I think all is good now.

(2010 Sep 30) Fix for DSS downloads: Konstantin Poschinger pointed out, on the Guide user list, that Guide wasn't downloading DSS images correctly. This turned out to be due to a fix to a previous bug in downloading DSS images. All should now be correct.

(2010 Sep 30) Fix for running multiple instances of Guide: Doing this has been problematic in the past, resulting in corrupted files and people needing to re-install. So in the 15 September update, I forced Guide to allow one instance only. There were objections to this, so I did what I ought to have done in the first place: look for ways in which to make multiple instances work. I think I've done this. The result is not perfect, but I don't think it will actually crash or cause data loss. (Please let me know if you find out that I'm wrong about that!)

(2010 Sep 15) Fix for accessing "irregular" actions: For some time, Guide has had the (undocumented) ability to use action codes 9800 to 9900 to load mark files with names mark00.txt to mark99.txt. (For a discussion of action codes, look at the text near the end of toolbar.dat in your Guide folder.) The idea was that one could create a mark file with only certain lines -- perhaps a new RA/dec, resetting the time, and so forth -- and have that mark file loaded via a hotkey or toolbar. (Most settings in Guide, though not all, can be controlled via mark files. See this documentation of the .mar format for details.)

Thomas Pfleger used this feature in his program Eye & Telescope to establish a link to Guide: the program created a mark99.txt file, then sent a command to Guide to use action code 9899, causing Guide to recenter on a particular object. This worked until the most recent update, when Thomas found that action codes 9800-9899 were broken. It's now "unbroken", so that Eye & Telescope users (and others relying on this feature) should be all set.

(2010 Sep 15) Ability to re-define action codes: In addition to the above system for defining actions in Guide in response to a hotkey or toolbar button, there is a system for defining actions in the range 9700-9799. It's described in detail in the file actions.txt. Two examples are fully set up, allowing one to have a hotkey and/or toolbar button for the actions "load factory defaults" and "load initial settings".

(2010 Sep 15) Help file updated: In preparation for Guide 9, the help file has been extensively updated. Many references in the help system had been to the "original" Guide 8.0 software, not the "current" version.

I doubt the help system (or user manual) gets a lot of use. I'd like to think that this is because Guide is so intuitive to use, but the truth probably is that people only use help systems when in serious trouble. Still, I think Guide has pretty good help, and I recommend its use.

Incidentally, my next big task is bringing the user manual up to date.

(2010 Sep 15) Telescope indicator fixed: Kevin Fetter pointed out that he wasn't able to get the telescope position indicator to work. This turned out to be due to a missing bitmap file for the toolbar. The problem should be fixed now.