"In testing" update posted

Bill J. Gray Dec 13, 2012

Hi folks,

I've posted an "in-testing" update at

http://www.projectpluto.com/new.htm

Note that, at least at present, this is for Guide 9 only. I
do expect to post a version for Guide 8, though.

The main improvement in this update is better handling of comets
and comet element updates. As you have all probably seen on this
list, it's become a real nuisance lately. MPC has been providing
larger files of critical-list objects and NEOs, which have strained
the already not-very-good schemes for comet/asteroid updating to
the point where Guide just crashes. Often, it doesn't recover
very well from this; you find out that you've "lost" comets.

I'm quite happy with the new scheme. As described at the above
URL, it uses some tricks to get updated elements both from MPC and
from the IMCCE (formerly known as the Bureau des Longitudes). The
IMCCE data is more comprehensive, including all comets found or
updated since about 1995. However, the IMCCE data is sometimes not
updated for a couple of weeks, so the MPC data is Guide's first
choice; only objects not found in the MPC data are drawn using
IMCCE data. (Objects not found in either, which will include most
pre-1995 comets, are shown using a big file of historical comet
elements that is built into the Guide DVD.)

In doing all this, I've ripped out the controls Guide had to
download NEO and critical-list objects. I expect to put those back
in. They will work a little differently, though. Guide will download
the NEO or critical-list file from the MPC, in MPCORB format. You'll
then have the option to have Guide display asteroids from MPCORB,
or from built-in data (same two options as before), _or_ from the
NEO or critical-list files.

Once I've got those parts working, I'll post another "in-testing"
update, and I _hope_ make that a "release" update pretty quickly
after that. Comments about the current update are very much desired.

-- Bill