Looking for something?

Search is one of the most popular activities on the internet* and the observation search on the LCOGT website is one of its most popular sections. We've just improved the search tool to make it easier to find your own observations and to browse through the observations of others. As it is now live I thought I'd describe some of the changes and improvements here.

The basic archive search contains much the same options as it did before including the ability to search by a particular object name, by telescope, by filter and in a specific date range. However the search form has been cleaned up and is hopefully a little easier to use than it was before; as you go to each part of the form you should see a helpful hint explaining what that section will do. As before, you will probably start off by entering an object name. Once you've done that, a background check is made to see if the text you entered is an astronomical object. If it's a recognised object then the type of object and its position will be displayed below the object name box. If the object doesn't seem to exist it will say so and if you've misspelt the name you may even be offered a spelling suggestion. As before you can still choose the telescope and filter but the date range options have been simplified. The default range is now set to the past 24 hours but you can choose to search over all dates or a specific range.

Once you get into the search results you'll start to notice the biggest changes. Each page of results now contains many more results than before and they are arranged in a grid to make them easier to glance at by eye. Each item in the grid has the object and observer names underneath it and you can quickly see more information by clicking on the small 'i' circle in the top right of the image. Clicking on the observer name will take you to a search page for their observations.

Clicking on one of the thumbnail images in the search results takes you to the page for that observation. There you'll get even more information, links to other web resources, and links to the FITS and jpeg images for each filter where available. As an added extra, if you hover your mouse cursor over any of the jpeg file links, the main observation image will be replaced with the image for each filter (pressing r, g or b on your keyboard should give the same effect). To provide a context for the current image on an observation page, you'll also see the 'observation stream' for that observer underneath the large image.

With more than 50611 observations to explore, I hope these new features encourage people to browse through the archives and perhaps discover observations that have long been forgotten. If you have any suggestions for improvements, please let me know.

* The most popular activity is apparently checking/sending email.