starconvert - Man Page

convert text data files to StarPlot format


starconvert [ options ] spec-file input-file [ output-file ]


Although many stellar data files are publicly available on the Internet from NASA and other astronomical organizations, there is no set format for these files.  The program starconvert acts as a buffer between this confusion and the format in which StarPlot requires data files.  To do so, it uses a specification file that details how various fields of stellar data (name, distance, right ascension, etc.) may be extracted from the original data file.

On the StarPlot web site are available some packages of data that include both an original data file from NASA, and also a  specification file. These packages are referred to as "data sets", from which starconvert can produce a data file in StarPlot format.  For ease of use, this should be done via the starpkg(1) shell script.

The starconvert command uses the specifications in spec-file to convert input-file to StarPlot data format and writes the results to output-file if specified, or standard output if not.  The first two arguments are required. Exactly ONE may be replaced with a dash `-' for reading from standard input.



Signals the end of the options.  This allows you to use a spec-file whose filename begins with the '-' character.


Add an entry for the Sun to the generated StarPlot-format data file, if it is not already present in the original raw data file.  This is the default behavior, so this flag has an effect only if it reverses an earlier --no-add-sun flag.


Do not add an entry for the Sun to the generated StarPlot-format data file, unless it is present in the original raw data file.  Adding the Sun is otherwise done by default, since most star catalogs do not include it.

Specification Files

For detailed information on how to write a specification file, see the example file listed below.  Be aware that I expect to change the default format of starconvert spec files after version 1.0, although starconvert will remain backwards-compatible.


/usr/share/doc/starplot/ - Contains documentation
/usr/share/doc/starplot/examples/example.spec - Example specification file

See Also

starplot(1), starpkg(1)


Copyright © 2000-2002 under the GNU GPL by Kevin B. McCarty <>. The StarPlot web page is at

Referenced By

starpkg(1), starplot(1).

Nov 2002