IAU Central Bureau for Astronomical Telegrams

Central Bureau for Astronomical Telegrams -- Image credits

CBAT "Transient Objects Confirmation Page" -- Instructions


In order to post a discovery or follow-up observation to the TOCP, a user must be registered with the Central Bureau. The CBAT is starting in early 2011 with a working list of several dozen registered users, compiled from contributors who have sent multiple discovery or follow-up reports to the Central Bureau in the past year. Additional registrants can contact the Bureau to be added to the list, by sending an e-mail request to cbatiau@eps.harvard.edu. Registrants can access the TOCP RSS feed at http://www.cbat.eps.harvard.edu/unconf/tocp.xml (requests to receive TOCP postings by e-mail should be sent also as an e-mail request to cbatiau@eps.harvard.edu; this will not be done automatically unless a request is made to do so a specific registrant). Of course, the TOCP and its RSS feeds will be freely available to both registrants and non-registrants.

We will only occasionally publish reports on CBETs or IAUCs of objects discovered and observed on a single night only without spectroscopic confirmation. Sometimes reports are received of such objects that contain observations on only a single night (or sometimes more than one night), needing confirmation before formal announcement and designation on IAUCs (and sometimes CBETs) -- but where the observer does not want his/her observation(s) posted prior to confirmation. As in the past, such reports can be sent to the CBAT at e-mail address cbatiau@eps.harvard.edu -- which is also the e-mail address to use for non-TOCP reports in textual form.

Automatic posting.

There are two automatic ways in which registered astronomers can add their observations to this webpage in a standard format: (1) by sending data via e-mail to cbattcp@eps.harvard.edu in a strict column-by-column format (described below) or (2) by filling out a form at at this webpage. There will be automatic computer checks to determine whether information is provided in proper columns; if your e-mailed report does not automatically post to this TOCP webpage, check to be sure that data are in the proper columns. When e-mailing to post lines of observations to the TOCP (to cbattcp@eps.harvard.edu), the sender must include the proper subject line in order to get each line to post properly: either (1) "TOCP discovery observation" or (2) "TOCP follow-up observation", as appropriate. Note that all contributors to this TOCP should also send a separate e-mail with details in textual form to cbatiau@eps.harvard.edu, as such details will be used in any announcement CBET or IAUC later.

Note that all e-mails to the Central Bureau, whether for TOCP posting or otherwise, should always be sent in plain ASCII text, with html-encoding turned off. Our spam filters look for html-encoded e-mail, and such e-mails can go astray.

Alternatively, reports sent outside of these two standard procedures (that is, to cbatiau@eps.harvard.edu) will be reviewed by, and posted (sometimes necessarily with a delay) here by, the CBAT staff -- as has always been the case in the past. Once items are posted here, they will be available as RSS feeds here -- as has been the case since 2009 for CBETs and IAUCs; also, the data posted here will be sent automatically in standard XML format to the VOEvent system (Skyalert.org).

Discoveries of new comets should be reported in standard 80-column astrometric MPC format to both the CBAT (cbatiau@eps.harvard.edu) and (as with discoveries of new minor planets) to the Minor Planet Center.

A listing of the information that one should include in any discovery report concerning comets, supernovae, novae, outbursts of variable stars, or features on planetary surfaces is available.

If you wish to report a discovery outside of the above strict format, please ensure that you have read the documentation on what information you should include in your report, and then send it by e-mail directly to cbatiau@eps.harvard.edu.

Do not use diacritical marks or "tab" spaces, as these will cause problems.

There are two types of data that can be contributed as sequences of single lines: one for discovery data (with an asterisk in column 20), and another for follow-up data (no asterisk in column 20), as described below. No tabs should be used (only spaces). When sending e-mail, put "TOCP discovery observation" or "TOCP follow-up observation" in the subject heading, and in the text, give only the lines of data as indicated below (only one line per discovery object; multiple lines for follow-up observations are permitted). Examples are given below:

Discovery data:

         1         2         3         4         5         6         7         8
123456789 123456789 123456789 123456789 123456789 123456789 123456789 123456789 
Type     Date (UT)      R.A. (2000.0) Decl.    Mag. p   Offset    Locale    A C  
TCP 2009 11 10.8811*  06 26 57.68 +24 29 06.8  16.2 U             Gem       1 7  
PSN 2010 02 08.92  *  13 29 15.92 +46 30 14.0  15.8 U                       0 0
PSN 2010 06 18.47  *  22 54 20.33 +11 46 54.7  18.4 U   10E   2S  U12237    9 -  
PNV 2010 10 13.5566*  00 44 26.56 +41 31 13.6  17.8 C 1350E 306N  M31       3 1  
NOTES: The columns of the discovery record must be strictly followed, with no tabs (only spaces between data entries). Columns 1-3 contain one sets of three upper-case to denote type of object suspected: PSN for possible/ probable/definite supernova; PNV for possible/probable/definite nova; and TCP for all other non-moving variables. The date must have the year in columns 5-8, two-digit month in columns 10-11, and date in columns 13-19 (with decimal point in column 15). Put an asterisk (*) in column 20 to indicate a discovery. The R.A. data go in columns 23-33 (decimal point for seconds in column 31); the Decl. data go in columns 35-45 (a plus or minus sign must be placed in column 35; decimal point in column 44). The magnitude is given in columns 48-51 with a decimal point in column 50; column 53 contains a letter to denote bandpass [U = unfiltered CCD; v = visual; V = Johnson V; R = R-band; p = photographic (Tri-X/Techpan band assumed); etc.]. Columns 55-64 are for an offset in arcsec (no decimal fractions; only whole digits) measured from the center of an extragalactic galaxy; they should be right-justified with the R.A. offset given first in columns 55-58 (the column 59 reserved for E = east or W = west of presumed-host-galaxy's center), and the Decl. offset given in columns 60-63 (the column 64 reserved for N = north or S = south). Columns 67-75 are for the "Locale", meaning the constellation's three-letter IAU abbreviation if in the Milky Way, or the catalogue designation of a presumed host galaxy if known (first letter M = Messier, N = NGC, I = IC, U = UGC, P = PGC, otherwise leave blank). Column 77 is for the number of confirmed discoveries previously reported by this contributor (single digit from 0 to 9, where 9 is nine or more). Column 78 is for the arc of observation: "-" = one image only; 0 = multiple images on a single night; 1-8 = positive images available of new object on one to eight different nights; 9 = images available on 9 or more nights.

Follow-up data:

         1         2         3         4         5         6         7         8         9
123456789 123456789 123456789 123456789 123456789 123456789 123456789 123456789 123456789 123456789 

Object Designation      Date (UT)      # Comments                                              
TCP J06265768+2429068   2009 11 10.8811  mag 16.2U; R.A. = 06h26m57s.68, Decl. = +24 29 06.8
PSN J01234567+0123456   2020 02 22.00  a 2-m reflector, Kitt Peak; type Ia, 1 day past max
PSN J01234567+0123456   2020 02 22.00  b observers A. Einstein, N. Bohr 
NOTES: Designation should be taken from the TOCP, or by the discoverer from his/her own precise position. Comments go in columns 42-100 only (nothing beyond column 100). Column 40 is for letters a, b, c, d, etc., to denote multiple lines sent by the same contributor about a single observation when the comments are more than 59 characters; place a hash mark (#) in column 40 when there is only one line of comments posted. The fields for columns 1-39 must be strictly followed (i.e., "J" or "B" in column 5, hours of R.A. in columns 6:7, minutes of R.A. in columns 8:9, seconds of R.A. in columns 10-13 -- without decimal point, year in columns 25-28, UT date in columns 33-39 with decimal point in column 35, etc.). Do not put diacritical marks in comments section.

For several years now, we have employed two columns to aid observers in judging the quality of the candidates below: (1) in column 62 is given a number from 0 to 9, specifying the number of previously designated (and not later retracted) supernovae discovered by the same observer (as listed in the CBAT webpage file of supernovae); the number 9 signifies 9 or more discoveries. (2) in column 64 is the number of days between known frames taken by the discoverer (and others, if relevant), with a nine (9) indicating nine or more days, a zero (0) signifying 0.5 day or less, and a dash (-) indicating only a single frame (a blank indicates that this datum is unknown).

Columns 67-76 are used for specifying what galaxy the variable appears to be possibly connected with (for extragalactic variables) or the 3-letter IAU abbreviation of the constellation if the variable is in the Milky Way. Columns 78-100 are for the precise position if measured (which in the case of a discovery will generally agree with the provisional positional designation in columns 1-21), and this space can be used for other information if follow-up observations are reported -- including any notation from the observers up to 23 characters (e.g, spectroscopic type; position end figures; notes to the effect that nothing new was found to some limiting mag, etc.). Observers should never report anything that is not present on at least two images to confirm the reality of the object (to rule out imaging flaws), and it is preferred that images be taken at least 20-30 minutes apart (for telescopic imagery; 1-2 hours for smaller-scale camera-lens imagery) to rule out such things as minor planets, in order for objects to be posted here.

Go to the TOCP.

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