Wednesday, November 23, 2016

New Supernovae Data Source in KStars!

The initial support for Supernovae in KStars was added back in 2011, but it relied on parsing an HTML page using a Python script to extract the necessary information on the latest discovered supernovae. It was obviously a very crude and hackish way to get the data, and I longed to rely on a better source for our data.

The Harvard page we were relying on for supernovae updates suddenly stopped posting any further updates, its last update was made in 2015. Thankfully, we discovered a new gold trove of information: The Open Supernovae Catalog project!

Every small orange dot is a supernova!

Before this project was created, the state of open and accessible data for supernovae was severely lacking in the astronomical community. Thanks to the Open Supernova Catalog, KStars is now again properly displaying old and newly discovered supernovae across the cosmos! The data is available by a JSON file that includes the supernova metadata required in KStars. It can be updated by the user from the data menu.

I'd like to especially thank Dr. James Guillochon, an an ITC Fellow at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, for his excellent support to make Supernovae in KStars possible!

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