Meteor Observation Recorder for PalmOS

This is a partially-working mock-up of a program i'm working on. It is intended to allow you to record your meteor observing sessions on your "connected organizer" running PalmOs (currently PalmPilot and Visor), while minimizing the amount of writing required during the session. It is written using Waba, a Java work-alike, and currently has no "back end" (i.e. it doesn't store any data). To operate it, use your browser pointer as the PalmOs stylus, and the keyboard as the Grafitti area. Although it currently doesn't store data, it does write to the Java console, so you can use your web browser to get an idea of what it will do.

It is expected that another application will process the recorded data to produce summaries and reports suitable for submission to the IMO visual section.

If you have comments or suggestions about this program, please don't hesitate to send me mail at I'm sure there are many improvements which can be made to the overall design and to specific features.



The first screen allows setting some session-wide data: the primary shower being observed, the secondary shower most active (if any), and the location. Details about up to 4 locations can be set via the radio buttons and the Edit Location button: tap the location to edit, then tap Edit Location. You cannot exit this screen until a 3-character code for the primary shower is entered. The working version will validate both the primary and secondary against the IMO codes. When both primary and secondary fields are valid, a Next button will appear, which you can tap to enter the session observing conditions.


The Location screen allows defining the name, latitude, longitude, and elevation of a site. Only the name is required. In this mock-up the location info is not saved, but in the full implementation the location info will be saved between sessions, so you'll only have to enter it once.


This screen requires you to enter the Limiting magnitude, %cloudy, star and constellation of the center of the field of view (FOV). You may optionally enter temperature and wind direction and speed. This mock-up requires entries for LM, %cloudy, and FOV, but doesn't enforce valid values. When all required fields have values, a Next button will appear, which you can tap to go to the function screen.

The data on this screen are saved, so that you can return and make only the updates needed as conditions change during the session.


You may tap 1 of 4 options presented: conditions, break, comment, or observe. Conditions takes you back to the Conditions screen (with the previous values still in place) so you can update the observing conditions periodically over time. Break goes to the Break screen, to signal an interruption in the observing session. Comment allows you to enter text. Observe sends you to the main meteor observing screen.

Whenever you enter the Function screen, an interruption of the observing session is recorded. The session will start again when Observe is tapped.


Two options: Back, to return to the Function screen, or Quit, to end the observing session. In this mock-up Quit doesn't work right, but in the real implementation you should always leave via Quit.


Enter a comment, then tap Done. The comment will have the current time attached to it. You may also enter comments after recording a meteor, and this allows you to make notes about meteor color and other unusual details.


Presents 4 options: start recording a primary shower meteor, start recording a secondary shower meteor, start recording a sporadic meteor, or go to the Function screen. All of the meteor selections begin the Magnitude Selection process.

Magnitude Selection

The Magnitude Selection process may seem a bit strange at first. The goal is to allow specifying magnitudes from -2 to 5.5 to an accuracy of 0.5, without any writing and without looking at the screen. This is implemented via a Range Selection screen presenting 4 ranges (Very Bright, Bright, Average, and Dim), followed by a screen presenting a choice of 4 values within the range. It will probably take a little practice to to memorize the patterns required to record the magnitude acurately, but once you learn it, it takes only 2 taps to enter the magnitude. After the magnitude has been selected, the Completion screen is displayed.

What if the meteor is brighter than -2, or dimmer than 5.5? About all i can suggest is to enter a comment associated with the meteor.

If anyone can suggest a better way to enter the magnitudes without having to write or to look at the screen, please let me know! Write to me at


4 options are presented: Done, which records the meteor, Done(train), which records the meteor and notes that it left a glowing train, Done(comment), which records the meteor and allows you to enter notes about it, and CANCEL, which discards the meteor observation without recording it.

Data Recorded

The data produced by the various screens are gathered into records of two basic categories:

Session-Wide Records

Version Record

The version record is created to ensure compatibility between the data and applications which may process it.

Session Record

The session record contains the date of the session and the IMO codes for the primary and secondary showers.

Location Record

The location record contains the name, latitude, longitude, and elevation of the location you're observing from.

Event Records

Conditions Record

The conditions record always contains the time the conditions were recorded, the LM, %cloudy, and star/constellation of the FOV. It may contain the temperature, and wind direction and speed.

Start/Stop Records

Start and Stop records contain the time you begin/end a portion of the observing session. Stop records are generated whenever you enter the Function screen, and Start records are generated when you go from the function screen to the main observing screen. Note that there is not a special record for the final end of the session, just an ordinary Stop record

Comment Records

Comment records contain the time the comment was entered, and the text of the comment.

Meteor records

Meteor records contain the time the meteor was observed, the IMO code for the shower (SPO for sporadic), the estimated magnitude, and a possible flag to indicate it left a train.

As previously mentioned, comments and suggestions are welcome at

All content Copyright © 2000 Jon Stewart-Taylor, all rights reserved.