Last updated: 11 August 2012

Autostar Guided Tours Info

Mike here: Meade has the Writing Autostar Tours guide on their web site. Get it here.

Subject:	Auto Tours for Double Stars [NEW!]
Sent:	Friday, April 9, 2010 15:03:54
From:	Julie Clayton (
Just passing along some info for anyone who is into double stars.  Eagle
Creek Observatory has created some extensive double star tours for the
ETX.  The website is .
In the middle of the page you'll see an option to download a zip file
for doubles in each of the constellations.  I haven't tried any of them
yet, but once I do, I'll report back.

Subject:	AutoStar Tour File
Sent:	Thursday, September 27, 2007 07:58:39
From:	Rodger Fry (
I enjoy your site very much as I am an owner of an ETX-105 and an
LX-200R 10".

The attached files are of a tour that I have written.  If you are so
inclined, feel free to post this for others on your web site. The first
is a text file and the other has the tour imported into the Auto Star

This tour reviews the various spectral classes of stars, displays
information regarding that class and finds examples of each.

I was looking on your site to see if you have any tour files that have
been written by others but I couldn't find any.

Keep up the good work.

Rodger C. Fry

Subject:	New astronomy website, new articles
Sent:	Wednesday, December 20, 2006 11:51:35
From:	V.A. van Wulfen (
After years of admiring your worldwide masterpiece I've decided to publish my own!

My site is

All my Autostar tour are at:,%20Logs%20&%20Tours.htm

Subject:	Autostar tours
Sent:	Sunday, July 27, 2003 04:37:58
From: (jim abbey)
I have 4 tours ,I wrote available on my Web page now.

Subject:	Making AutoStar tour files using Starry Night Pro
Sent:	Tuesday, May 13, 2003 13:57:03
From: (Paul St. Amand)

(Here is an updated version of my SNPPlanner2AutoStarV3.xls Excel
worksheet. has changed the output format of the SNP planner
(4.05), so I had to update this worksheet.)

If you have the new Starry Night Pro (4.05) then you have a nice tool
for planning an evening of stargazing. This version has a built-in
planner which will select objects according to your own criteria and
place them in an optimum viewing order.

You can then print or output the list to a tab delimited text file.
Useful, but outputting to an AutoStar Tour would be even better. SNP
doesnt do that. (Maybe in a future version?!) To remedy that, I have
created an Excel worksheet that will convert the tab file into an
AutoStar Tour file. The Excel worksheet will also allow you to limit the
output based on object magnitude. The title of the tour is set to the
date for which the planner created the list, so you can easily plan
tours for any day in the future.

To make a tour, you copy the entire planner file, paste it into the
worksheet, enter a magnitude cut-off, copy the tour, paste into a plain
text file, and use Meade's ASU program to import the file and load it
into the AutoStar.

You can get the worksheet:


here on Mike's site. It should work equally well on Macs or PCs.

It has worked fine for me for a few trial runs. Give it a shot and let
me know if you find bugs in it.

Paul St. Amand

Subject:	Autostar Tour
Sent:	Friday, February 21, 2003 5:50:03
From: (Joe Walker)
With the lousy weather here in the northeast, I've had some time to
review and correct several errors in the Autostar tours based on Dr.
Clay's constellation guides. Attached are the .zip files for both the
large and small tours. The following tours are included in the two .zip

* Andromeda
* Aquarius
* Aquila and Scutum
* Aries
* Auriga
* Bootes
* Camelopardalis
* Capricorn
* Carbon Stars
* Cassiopeia
* Cetus
* Coma Berenices
* Cetus
* Cygnus
* Delphinum_Equuleus
* Draco, Ursa Minor and Cepheus
* Eridanus
* Hercules
* Lacerta
* Leo
* Lepus
* Libra
* Lyra
* Ophiuchus
* Orion
* Pegasus
* Perseus
* Pisces
* Sagitta_Vulpecula
* Sagittarius
* Scorpius
* Taurus
* Triangulum
* Ursa Major
* Virgo

Please let me know if there are any reports of problems.

Joe Walker
Rochester, NY

Subject:	Dr. Clay's Tours
Sent:	Wednesday, June 26, 2002 12:31:01
From: (Joe Walker)
Attached is another release of Dr. Clay's constellation tours. A few of
the earlier tours had a few errors and are corrected in this release.
Also added a few more tours, which completes all of Dr. Clay's current
tours. Two files are attached, the large tours with complete text and
the abbreviated file with a brief description for each object.

* Andromeda
* Aquarius  (Revised)
* Aquila
* Aries
* Auriga  (Revised)
* Bootes
* Camelopardalis
* Canis Major
* Capricorn
* Carbon Stars
* Cassiopeia  (Revised)
* Cetus
* Coma Berenices
* Cygnus
* Delphinum_Equuleus
* Draco  (Revised)
* Eridanus
* Hercules
* Lacerta
* Leo (Revised)
* Lepus  (Revised)
* Libra
* Lyra
* Ophiuchus
* Orion
* Pegasus
* Perseus  (Revised)
* Pieces
* Sagitta_Vulpecula
* Sagittarius
* Scorpius  (Revised)
* Taurus
* Triangulum
* Ursa Major
* Virgo

New Tours
* Capricorn
* Cygnus
* Delphinum_Equuleus
* Lacerta
* Pegasus
* Sagitta_Vulpecula

As in the past, I welcome feedback or reports of problems with any of the

Joe Walker
Rochester, NY
From: (Clay Sherrod)
Thanks Joe...I appreciate the update!!

Your tours are pretty much being used and enjoyed world-wide; I have
heard many good things about them.  I very much appreciate the hard work
putting these together!

Dr. P. Clay Sherrod
Arkansas Sky Observatory

Subject:	Fw: Autostar Patch
Sent:	Wednesday, May 15, 2002 8:55:13
From: (V.A. van Wulfen)
To:	"Richard Seymour" (
Hi Dick,

As a happy user of your helpful patches I'd like to ask you to create
new ones if possible (even though I know Meade is finally starting to
implement your ideas!).

I found out that Autostar is capable of generating symbols which are not
in the list of symbols you can enter using the keypad (e.g. user name,
adress, etc.). I first noticed this when, while writing my own tours I
transferred the data from a Word file to a .txt file and back several
times. Obviously something didn't go as planned because not all the
object would upload. In addition the display did show me symbols I
didn't enter. I don't know if they are random symbols or from an
unopened database in the controller. They did return every time at the
same object title and/or description in the same tours. Unfortunately I
no longer have these tours so I can't send you one, I may be able to
reproduce it though. My question: Is it possible to enter data in the
Autostar tours which generates specific non standard symbology? It would
make a nice addition to my tours if the Autostar screen displays the
Greek alphabet (e.g.  '?' instead of 'Beta').

My other question also has to do with tour writing. Whenever you access
the Autostar database and ask it for details about an object it will let
you step through several menu's with information. I'll use M42 as an
example. After selecting Messier and then entering 42 it displays 'Great
Orion Neb' in the upper half and 'Messier 42' in the lower half. Press
the scroll down key and the next info menu appears, the lower half now
displays NGC 1976. There are eight more descriptions to acces using the
scroll keys. My question: Is there a way (patch or other way) to use
this feature in self written tours?

Thanks for your great work!

Victor van Wulfen

P.S.  Give this tour a try and see what symbols Autostar has
(hidden?) inside! Did anyone know these characters were in there?

----- Original Message -----
From: "Richard Seymour" (
To: "V.A. van Wulfen" (
> > (even though I know Meade is finally starting to implement your
> > ideas!).
> well, i implemented ones they already had in the classic LX200
> > I found out that Autostar is capable of generating symbols which are
> > not in the list of symbols you can enter using the keypad (e.g. user
> > name, adress, etc.).
> The display unit can speak multiple characters sets.. including
> japanese, and i think cyrillic.  Some Greek.  Many symbols.
> -how- to get it to do so is two-fold:
> one is simply to use characters above the usual 127.  Try character
> values in the range 128 - 255.  I simply haven't had the time to do so.
> In Word you can enter those as Alt-0-xxx ... (on the numeric keypad)
> but the Word meaning of those numbers probably differs from the
> Autostar's  (alt-0149 is a bullet, for example, to Word)
> The second must involve a shift operation, which i'll have to dig
> out of an old disassembly (v1.3), since back then the 495/497 supported
> 6 languages at power-up time.  They went to single-language firmwares
> when they increased the database to 30,000 objects.
> So full access would require a patch .. and a means of getting back
> -out- of (say) full Greek.
> > I don't know if they are random symbols or from an unopened database
> > in the controller.
> It's the display module itself.
> > My question: Is it possible to enter data in the Autostar tours which
> > generates specific non standard symbology? It would make a nice
> > addition to my tours if the Autostar screen displays the Greek
> > alphabet (e.g.  '?' instead of 'Beta').
> Yes.  But i don't know if Beta is in the 128-255 set, or if the shift
> is required.
> > My other question also has to do with tour writing. Whenever you
> > access the Autostar database and ask it for details about an object it
> > will let you step through several menu's with information. I'll use
> > M42 as an example. After selecting Messier and then entering 42 it
> > displays 'Great Orion Neb' in the upper half and 'Messier 42' in the
> > lower half. Press the scroll down key and the next info menu appears,
> > the lower half now displays NGC 1976. There are eight more
> > descriptions to acces using the scroll keys.
> > My question: Is there a way (patch or other way) to use this feature
> > in self written tours?
> You can access the scroll up/down data during a tour, by hand.
> Currently there is no way to have a Toured object -start- at a
> particular item in that data list (such as Magnitude).
> Not all objects have all items.. so specifying the 4th item may
> not always get Magnitude.
> Both the character-set documentation/access and the scroll-data
> items are excellent suggestions... send them to,
> and put "autostar firmware enhancement suggestions" in the Subject
> line.  That's their official pathway for such things.  They probably
> won't -answer-, but they'll read it...
> The access-a-scroll item may be a bit too complex for patching.
> But coming up with a special character for shifting the display
> character set sounds like fun... i'll try to squeeze it in.
> (requires cloudy/rainy nights)
> You could help by trying "Tours" which identify the characters.
> I'd do one with known printable characters between test codes:
> A (128) B (129) C (130) D (131) ... and so forth...
> have fun
> --dick

Subject:	Galaxies Tour
Sent:	Sunday, January 13, 2002 22:08:27
From: (Linda Hicks)
Galaxy Quest Tour

This tour has just about all galaxies brighter than mag 11 (few
exceptions, I left out about 10 IC's and added 3 dimmer than mag 11 due
to their size). The tour can be an aid to visual supernova searches. An
8.8mm or 9mm UWA is a good eyepiece for most (90%) of the galaxies. Even
though you may only see a small smudge in the middle, the galaxies
extend much wider so look at changes in the whole field. Also I'm and
NGC guy and didn't use or cross reference to PGC.

If the object appeared in the center half FOV I left the coordinates
alone (published coordinates and magnitudes vary with these objects).

Subject:	Autostar Tour version of Clay's Auriga
Sent:	Friday, September 28, 2001 20:16:05
From: (richard seymour)
I had a few minutes, so i though i'd write a tour...
The attached Tour is a direct conversion of Clay's Auriga GOTO
Constellation meandering's tour section.
(it only took 4 downloads to get it right... i'm rusty, the Updater
really should parse them better, and i should remember to test when
the entire constellation is above the horizon...)

From: (Clay Sherrod)
HI Dick and thanks!  This is great!  I really wish someone would have
the time to convert all the GO TO Guides to tours!  I can't wait to try
it out....Auriga is one of my favorites....


Subject:	Another Tour
Sent:	Tuesday, June 26, 2001 17:18:49
From: (Kenneth Hicks)
I thought I'd send you another tour to post on your fine web sight. 
Everything in this one is visible even with small binoculars.  They'll
look great in the ETX's.  It's 101 of the brightest NGC DSO's.  They are
sorted by RA and Constellation so you want be slewing all over the sky. 
It'll start in the West and end in the East jumping from constellation
to constellation.  The worst thing about the tour is seeing all the
things in the southern hemisphere we can't see far North of the Equator!

Hope you and everyone enjoys.

Clear Skies,
Ken Hicks

Subject:	ColorDoubles Guided Tour
Sent:	Thursday, June 21, 2001 18:17:07
I wrote a tour listing 44 double stars and 2 other pairs that have been
described as having a noticeable color-contrast.  The other file is an
Excel spreadsheet of the same data sorted both by RA and color-index
difference.  Download the Zip file containing both files.

I became interested in colored doubles after seeing Alberio, but had no
idea how many there was until I started this project.  I chose to do
this because of club (DVAA) holds its monthly public star parties on
Saturdays with substantial moonlight, at a location with light
pollution, and frequently hazy summer skys.  I found that I can
frequently see double stars through considerable thin clouds and haze,
if my Autostar knows where to look.  I figured they would be an
interesting subject for the public at our star parties.

I had a hard time finding information about them, and compiled this list
of 46 (including 2 pairs that are not doubles) from several sources,
especially the Edmund Mag5 atlas.  I would appreciate any leads others
might have to lists of colored doubles, in case I missed any good ones. 
I haven't been able to confirm all of these, and being color-blind I
made no attempt to edit color descriptions.  After learning about
color-indexes and finding the values listed in my files from Starry
Night, I question whether some are really color contrasts or just
imagination in the eye of the observer.

I would really appreciate any feedback, suggestions, or links for more


Wayne Reed, LX-90 owner

Subject:	Tours
Sent:	Saturday, May 26, 2001 19:00:36
From: (Kenneth Hicks)
Great site!  I've wrote a couple tours I think are very good for
everyone.  Please consider posting them on your site for everyone to
share.  Thank you.

Following is some brief descriptions

"Globular Cluster Tour" is ALL the known 147 Milky Way Globulars.
Globulars are fascinating (yea, how do you invoke that spell checker?)
for astronomers of all levels and telescopes of all sizes.  This tour
will provide excitement for the autostar 60's and challenges for the
LX90 or future LX 16 inch (just speculation).  Objects vary in magnitude
from about 4 to 17.  Yes 17, so break out those web cams and see what
you can do!  I used the "user" command as I didn't want to rely on
correct coordinates in the autostar database or debug when the autostar
goes nuts on some NGC items.  Objects are sorted in RA. I chose to
display the Size of the object (in arc minutes) and Magnitude on the top
line of the autostar (a little crowded but I think it's exceptable (i.e.
no spaces).  This (hopefully) will assist you in making determinations
about the object, field of view in your eyepiece, selecting eyepieces,
etc.  Also prevent you from searching for that magnitude 15 object (or
challenge you to try!).  Scrolling on the second line is the Messier,
NGC, Dunlop, Herschel or etc. common name if one(s) exist.  Also the
constellation the cluster is in is displayed.

"Planetary Nebula Tour" is all 98 listed NGC planetary nebula sorted in
RA.  I chose to display the NGC number and Magnitude on the top line as
size isn't that important (opinion) on planetaries.  Again use the
magnitude to help you.  Also a few objects will require a CCD to image. 
Scrolling on the bottom line is other names the nebula is known by. 
Also displayed on some nebula are "CS=10".  This indicates a central
star can be observed in the nebula and the magnitude of the star (mag 10
in this example).

Please give me feedback on the tours.  I'm curious if you like them.
I'll also take requests for making tours.  Look for upcoming "Visual
Galaxies" "CCD only Galaxies" (what should my mag switch over be!).

I also ask you keep the tours intact as it is important references stay
in place.  But please freely distribute the tours.

Ken Hicks

Subject:	44 Constellation Tours...
Date: Thu, 24 May 2001 21:34:34 +0100
From: Luis Carreira (
Subject: Autostar Tours

I own a ETX90EC and I've wrote some autostar #497 tours  organized by
constellation (42 to date),

Each tour has  doubles, variables and finally DSO's (Messiers, NGC/IC
etc) for each constellation. The notation is very abbreviated and
concise (but inteligible I guess) but all the 42 tours fit on my 2.2Ef
autostar :) 14.4Kb left. They all been tested on the field. Some objects
are a bit out of optic reach to an  ETX90 but an Lx90 will have no

The objects sources were mainly Saguaro Astronomy Club Database 7.2
filtered by Night Sky Observer's guides.

You can download it here: the page is mainly in Portuguese but has some
english sections (Brit/US icon flag).

L u i s   C a r r e i r a

Subject:	Two Autostar tour files
Sent:	Friday, May 18, 2001 14:35:39
From: (pst)

I have compiled two Autostar tour files which may be of interest.

The first (AAAAUrban.txt) is useful for viewing from cities and other
"not so dark" sites. It contains bright deep sky objects and a short
list of variable and double stars. It is from The American Association
of Amateur Astronomers and is compiled by John Wagonerhas for Northern
hemisphere observers living in urban regions. I found the list at: These objects should all be visible in
any ETX scope.

The other tour (RASC-Finest.txt) is a list of the best non-Messier
objects found in the NGC. It was compiled by Alan Dyer for The Royal
Astronomical Society of Canada (RASC). I found this list at: Most of these will be visible
in any ETX scope, but some do require an aperture of 6" or greater.

Both tours are simply lists in RA order. To install them you need the
Meade Autostar updater application. Simply drag the files to the "Tours"
button and upload ephemerides as usual.

Paul St. Amand

Subject:	Go To Tours
Sent:	Wednesday, May 16, 2001 7:20:41
From: (Jim McCambridge)
I recently coded two tours for the Autostar which are based on Clay's
posts for Leo and Bootes.  I thought other people might be interested in
using them...

I've debugged them somewhat.  I used coordinates from SkyMap 7 Pro's
database where I could and Clay's originals where I couldn't.  One
technical concern I had (and Mike maybe you could post it on the site): 
I tried to use the Autostar command "NGC" for a number of objects in
both tours.  After I loaded the tours in my Autostar to debug (and
enjoy!) them, the NGC objects weren't recognized--the Autostar displayed
garbage coordinates and happily slewed all over the sky.  I know the NGC
objects are in the Autostar's database.  Do any of your readers have
experience with using the "NGC" command and what can go wrong with it? 
I resorted to using the command "USER" which is not as elegant...

Please take a look at them!  If they seem acceptable, feel free to post
them on the Mighty ETX site.

As usual, to add them to your Autostar, fire up the updater, drag the
files "ClaysLeoTour.txt" and "ClaysBootesTour.txt" to the Tours icon and
load new ephemerides to the Autostar.

Best regards,


406 Walnut Ln
Swarthmore, PA 19081
(610) 299-0167 [mobile]
(610) 338-0824 [immobile]
(347) 412-6353 [facsimile]

Subject:	Sky Gems I & II
Sent:	Monday, February 12, 2001 21:54:25
From: (Autostar Software Review Project)
I re-ordered Tonite's Jewels into RA order (it wasn't) and cut it apart
at RA 12:00:00.  I loaded both halves of the tour without a problem
and included Tonight's Best, Double Club, Pretty Doubles, and Orion
multiples, all without a problem.  I currently have the Sun
"asteroid", one comet, five satellites, and the six tours.  Although I
haven't run the tours outside (it's snowing right now), they seem to
be OK inside.  I was able to leave in mid-tour without a problem.  I
suspect that TJ's overall size was the culprit in the problems seen.
That is, any one file can only be so big before something goes wrong.
Althought the Sky Gems combination is slightly larger than Tonite's
Jewels (extra header and footer), its individual parts are smaller
than whatever the limit is.

Please check the tours out for any problems although, since this is just
Tonite's Jewels re-ordered and split, I don't expect any big problems.  

Sky Gems I and II Tours

Subject:	Tonight's Gems Tour Script
From: (Autostar Software Review Project)
OK, here's Mark Crossley's "Tonite's Jewels" on a diet.  Steve Coe's
comments are, in the main, lost but there are no memory issues and, so
far as I can tell, no slewing surprises.

I held onto Mark's work in places where Autostar was unable to identify
an object.  One of the biggest surprises is trying to point to Hyades;
it's in the Deep Sky list but "DEEP SKY "Hyades"" doesn't work.  Iota
Cancer also flamed out even though it has an SAO number; Autostar says
"object not found" when I pass it the number (SAO 80415).  Coma Cluster
(also identified as Mel 111) was a non-starter as was Collinder 399. 
These items may have Autostar names but I don't know what they are.

Hmm... is there a printed list of the full Autostar catalog or at least
something like a spread sheet of the items?

Anyway, beat this puppy up and see if it squeaks.  I think I've caught
the surprises.

Next up... splitting Tonight's Jewels into two parts and watching the
pieces fly.

Tonight's Gems Tour

Subject:	 Autostar Guided Tours
From: (Paul)
Steve Tuma's "Deepsky 2000" will easily build an Autostar guided Tour
based on objects selected through it's database query system. You can
generate a list of objects based on magnitude, type, elevation etc. and
select only those that you wish to view, such as Clusters and Galaxies
brighter than Mag 8, or maybe only Herschel objects that are at least 30
degrees above the horizon. You would then select "Create Tour Script"
from the Telescope menu which will instantly create a completed, ready
to download Tour file. Using the Mode button on the Autostar will make
the Telescope slew from object to object in your custom created Tour.
Deepsky can be found here:

Have Fun

Member- South Florida Amateur Astronomers Association

From: (Mike Hadey)

Pretty Doubles Tour

From: (Jose L. Chinchilla)

Dick Seymour suggested me to send to you a new Tour I wrote (my first one!) in Spanish and English. If you consider convenient, you can post it in your site.

"32 multiple stars in Orion"                Spanish version      English version
(4K; save as source from your web browser)

Clear skies,

Jos L. Chinchilla
Pea Dorada, 10
28034 Madrid

Mike here: Another Autostar Tour:

Woodland Hills Camera & Telescopes

Subject:	 New Tour
Sent:	Monday, November 27, 2000 19:02:23
From: (richard seymour)
a new Tour at Meade (From Edmund Scientific)

It's primarily a "tonight's best"  of representative objects, but looks
like a nice list.


Mike here: Oceanside Photo & Telescope has released an Autostar Guided Tour on their web site.

From: Tom Carlson (

After I made a serial cable for my ETX and down loaded the newest software, I found that you can write your own Tours. It didn't seem too difficult so I gave it a try. Most of the professionally done Tours have a lot of extra programming to allow for year-round viewing. I usually plan my outings by which constellations are viewable then I write myself a note with the interesting objects. I thought that it would be an interesting project to write a tour for only one constellation at a time. My first effort was the "Scorpius Tour" (ZIP file, 1.2K). It came out pretty good so I wanted to share it with anyone interested. By the way, I take no responsibly for your ETX or software by offering this tour.

My second Tour program for the Autostar computer is called "Sagittarius Tour" (ZIP file, 1.6K). This one concentrates on objects in the Sagittarius Constellation. I hope you have as much fun using it as I had writing it.

From: Kevin Berg (

Please post these instructions for sending Tour files to the Autostar, as they worked for me. Try this:

(1) Drag/Drop the downloaded tour file onto the Tours button in the
Autostar utility. You should now see that tour in the menu of tours.

(2) Click on "Tours"

(3) Click the pull-down menu to ensure that the tour you want to send 
to the Autostar now shows up in the menu.

(4) Click/check the "Selected for Autostar" box so that the word
<HANDBOX> now shows up next to the selected tour in the tour menu.

(5) Click "Apply Changes".

(6) Click "Finished".

(7) Click "Send to Ephemerides" (to the Autostar) in the main utility
window - the selected tour should now be in the process of being
sent to the Autostar.

(8) Follow the above steps for any other Tour file you want. I have all
of Meade's 5 tours now loaded.
I wrote the above instructions from memory, but I believe they are correct. I hope this helps a lot of you folks out there.


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