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Monday
Sep092013

WhatsObservable v0.1.0 uploaded to PyPI

From README.txt:

WhatsObservable is used for determining which minor planets (and comets) are observable at a given time from a given location on Earth.

WhatsObservable determines the locations of objects using the routines of PyEphem and the Minor Planet Center's Orbit Database. Note that at least for the time being the user must download this file separately and WhatsObservable will find it on disk.

The intent is to replicate the functionality available at the JPL Solar System Dynamics Small Body Whats Observable web page. The motivation for writing WhatsObservable was to provide this capability when offline and in an easily scriptable manner.

NOTE: The precision of PyEphem with the MPC Orbit Database is good, especially for dates near the orbital epoch, but is not nearly as good as what is available directly from the JPL Horizons System. Even near the orbital epoch errors of a few arcseconds are not uncommon. Use this tool at your own risk and if precision matters, refer back directly to the JPL Horizons System.

A typical usage is:

import datetime
from whatsobservable import minorplanets

objects = minorplanets(datetime.datetime(2013, 9, 1, 10, 0),
                     568,   # 568 is the observatory code for Mauna Kea
                     max_objects=5, max_magnitude=12., max_zenithdistance_deg=60.0)
print objects

Note that the return is a pandas.DataFrame

You can install whatsobservable with:

easy_install whatsobservable

Or, by downloading from PyPI.

I've also put the source code on GitHub.