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Astronomical news and events of interest to RISC OS users
32-bit Widget5 available [link]
17 Oct 2003
Andrew Sellors has made a 32-bit version of his freeware Widget5 graphics processing program available. It provides many operations suitable for astronomical processing, and is particularly notable for being the only RISC OS graphics package to support 16-bit per pixel greyscale images. It has an interesting approach to handling multiple images, and can also handle 24-bit colour images. It's impressively fast on the Iyonix, and time-consuming operations are smoothly multi-tasked. Well worth investigating.
(Thanks to Jeremy Cooke for alerting me to this impressive piece of software.)

MoonTool updated [link]
19 Aug 2003
Musus Umbra has briefly returned to the RISC OS fold and updated his MoonTool utility to version 3.27. Based originally on a program from John Walker's Fourmilab, MoonTool provides a constantly updated desktop display of the Moon's phases, and much more information too (all extremely accurate). The program is now 32-bit clean and can export the displayed information to a text file.

Composition updated [link]
19 Aug 2003
Rob Davison has issued an update to his Composition graphics package, bringing it to version 1.22e. New features include improved JPEG loading, auto-trimming, new blend modes (Screen, Hard Light and Soft Light), fuzzy magic wand fills, and many more. Various bug-fixes are included, and there are new Composcript features.

ROAST site official launch [link]
16 Aug 2003
The ROAST web site has been launched. Covering astronomy, meteorology and related subjects, the site aims to provide a resource for RISC OS users interested in these fields. It complements the ROAST mailing list set up in April 2003.

PIC utilities [link]
15 Jul 2003
Philip Pemberton has released various tools for using Microchip PIC series of microcontrollers under RISC OS, including a port of the open source GPUtils. This is of interest to anyone thinking of interfacing hardware to RISC OS, as the PIC chips offer a simple but flexible way of controlling electronic devices.

ROCchart updated [link]
25 Jun 2003
Rick Hudson has updated his astronomical charting program ROCchart to version 2.25, with a beta release of version 2.26 also available.

Calendar utility [link]
8 Jun 2003
Writing any astronomical software requires manipulation of dates and times, and Erik Groenhuis has written a module which will prove very helpful for this. The Calendar module understands dates in various calendar systems (Gregorian and Julian at the moment, with Hebrew, Islamic and French Revolution, including 10-day weeks, forthcoming) and can convert between them and do date calculations. The internal time system used in RISC OS is only valid between 1900 and 2248, while Calendar can manipulate dates over a much wider range.
Calendar is freeware and 32-bit compatible. It comes with full documentation.

Darkness and Parliament [link]
7 Jun 2003
On Monday 9 June various interested parties will give evidence to the Parliamentary Science & Technology Select Committee on Light Pollution. As well as the Astronomers Royal of England and Scotland, representing professional astronomers, evidence will be heard from various amateur bodies including the British Astronomical Association.
This event follows an informal meeting of MPs and astronomers on 4 June at Greenwich, described as 'friendly and positive'. The committee will report to Parliament later this year, with recommendations for action. Apparently this move is largely due to the efforts of MP Tom Harris, a keen amateur astronomer and supporter of the Campaign for Dark Skies.

Solar eclipse [link]
27 May 2003
There's a solar eclipse visible over the UK on 31 May at sunrise (that's about 3.30am on Saturday morning). It's annular in parts of northern Scotland, Iceland and Greenland, and partial in the rest of the UK.


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