Astronomy Workshop Upgrades
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We will post completed upgrades to the Astronomy Workshop here. To suggest an upgrade or report a bug, please email Doug Hamilton: .


MESSAGE #53. Fri Jul 31 19:28:35 EDT 2015. Prof. Doug Hamilton wrote: MESSAGE #52. Wed Jul 3 19:54:32 EDT 2013. Prof. Doug Hamilton wrote:
    We've created a new Irregular Satellite Calculator and updated the Regular Satellite Calculator so that all moons in the Solar System are now available to you including Pluto's 4th and 5th which received their official names Kerberos and Styx yesterday! We define Regular Satellites to be either close to their host planet or larger than 35km (or both); Irregular satellites are distant and typically small, and there are a lot of them!
MESSAGE #51. Wed Sep 21 15:50:35 EDT 2011. Prof. Doug Hamilton wrote:
    There is a new AW Extragalactic link now available from the main page. These new tools have been developed by U. Maryland Astronomers Alberto Bolatto and Melissa Hayes-Gehrke in collaboration with UMD undergraduates Joseph Benik and Sam Knutson. Enjoy!
MESSAGE #50. Mon Sep 20 18:55:08 EDT 2010. Prof. Doug Hamilton wrote:
    All Workshop Tools are now fully functional. You should notice the enhanced performance of the new server. There are a number of small repairs remaining (e.g. updating the Featured Tool and Astro Fact daily) which will be done shortly.
MESSAGE #49. Mon Sep 20 13:06:40 EDT 2010. Prof. Doug Hamilton wrote:
    Fixed: all Solar System Viewers, Central Force Integrators, 3 Body Integrators. Still Broken: Planetary Satellite Integrator.
MESSAGE #48. Sat Sep 18 00:43:46 EDT 2010. Prof. Doug Hamilton wrote:
    Fixed: Rogue Star, the Sun's Life, most Solar System Viewers. Still Broken: Our Solar System Viewer, the Orbital Integration Tools.
MESSAGE #47. Fri Sep 17 14:38:39 EDT 2010. Prof. Doug Hamilton wrote:
    Another power outage is scheduled for this weekend (Friday 8pm - Monday 6am). I've permanently moved the Astronomy Workshop to a new server that will remain available over the weekend and for all future power outages. Each core on the new server is twice as fast as the cores on the old machine, and there are 24 cores, so even times with intense traffic should experience no slowdown. The move is non-trivial, and currently only about 3/4 of the AW tools are operational including: Scientific Notation and all other tools under Astronomy Classroom, Solar System Collisions, the Solar System Calculators, and the Solar System Visualizer. The following tools still have problems: Rogue Star, The Sun's Life, some of the Solar System Viewers, and all Orbital Integration Tools.
MESSAGE #46. Thu Aug 12 9:51:46 EDT 2010. Prof. Doug Hamilton wrote:
    The Astronomy Workshop will be down from 6pm Friday Aug. 13 through late evening Sunday Aug. 15. Power is being shut off to the building that houses the server due to ongoing construction of a new building nearby. We will be moving the server to a safer location to avoid future power outages but were unable to complete the move before this outage. Sorry for any inconvenience!
MESSAGE #45. Sun Feb 14 10:37:01 EDT 2010. Prof. Doug Hamilton wrote: MESSAGE #44. Wed Feb 10 16:19:31 EDT 2010. Prof. Doug Hamilton wrote:
    I've added images to the Universe Timeline webtool to illustrate key events! I also corrected a unit conversion problem that has affected the Astronomical Sizes tool since Dec. 25, 2009.
MESSAGE #43. Tue Dec 29 20:04:17 EDT 2009. Prof. Doug Hamilton wrote:
    Power was out to the building that houses the Astronomy Workshop for 12 hours today, so all machines had to powered down for the duration. The total duration of the outage was about 20 hours - sorry for any problems! No more outages are planned ...
MESSAGE #42. Mon Dec 25 18:15:29 EDT 2009. Prof. Doug Hamilton wrote: MESSAGE #41. Mon Nov 16 16:38:49 EDT 2009. Prof. Doug Hamilton wrote: MESSAGE #40. Wed Sep 2 18:57:02 EDT 2009. Prof. Doug Hamilton wrote: MESSAGE #39. Wed Jun 10 04:24:27 EDT 2009. Prof. Doug Hamilton wrote:
    I have upgraded all of the tools in the Orbital Integrators section of the Astronomy Workshop, making significant improvements in speed, functionality, stability, and overall appearance. Try the newest tool: The Lagrange Point Explorer.
MESSAGE #38. Wed Apr 23 13:09:51 EDT 2009. Prof. Doug Hamilton wrote:
    The Astronomy Workshop was offline from Tue Apr. 22 at 14:00 until Wed Apr. 23 at 12:45 for restructuring of the server. This is the first outage in 1.5 years and should not be required again. Sorry for any inconvenience!
MESSAGE #37. Fri Feb 19 18:45:11 EDT 2009. Prof. Doug Hamilton wrote:
    Which Astronomy Workshop tools are most popular? Find out with improved statistics available from the What's Hot link on the main page (updated daily). See the most popular tools from [2004] [2005] [2006] [2007] [2008] and [2009] - there are some surprises!
MESSAGE #36. Fri Nov 13 22:48:03 EDT 2008. Prof. Doug Hamilton wrote:
    Now that the Scientific Notation application has served several million problems, I was able to notice and fix two very rare bugs that affected only about 1 in 10,000 questions. The affected problems included some that had very large numerical answers and the rare expressions that evaluated to zero. I also modernized the front page and added a big green GO button!
MESSAGE #36. Fri Feb 22 23:49:24 EDT 2008. Prof. Doug Hamilton wrote:
    Curran Muhlberger and I have just finished a major upgrade of the popular Scientific Notation application. Users can now practice multiplication/division and addition/subtraction as well as conversion problems. There is also a new quiz feature. Enjoy!
MESSAGE #35. Mon Nov 5 18:18:48 EDT 2007. Prof. Doug Hamilton wrote:
    The UPS (Uninterrupted Power Supply) is installed! The Astronomy Workshop can now survive 30 minute power failures. Hopefully this will be the last word on that subject.
MESSAGE #34. Mon Oct 29 23:31:57 EDT 2007. Prof. Doug Hamilton wrote:
    The Astronomy Workshop's server went down again, and failed to reboot, due to another short power outage! This time the server was offline from Saturday morning at 8:00am through Monday at 12:50pm. We'll get that UPS (Uninterrupted Power Supply) this week.
MESSAGE #33. Tue Oct 16 23:16:11 EDT 2007. Prof. Doug Hamilton wrote:
    The Astronomy Workshop's server went down Sunday morning due to a power glitch and was returned to service late Monday morning. Sorry for any inconvenience! We'll be investing in a UPS (Uninterrupted Power Supply) soon. Also, thanks to Steve Vogt who informed me that the Rogue Star application was not working. It was repaired on Oct. 5.
MESSAGE #32. Wed Sep 5 19:35:52 EDT 2007. Prof. Doug Hamilton wrote:
    The Astronomy Workshop's new server is online! Apologies to those of you who experienced downtime early this afternoon and for about an hour yesterday. Each CPU in the new server is 1.5 times faster than before and there are four of them, twice as many as before. In addition, transfer rates to and from the network are now at 1 Gbit instead of 100Mbit. These improvements should benefit all users, especially during time of high usage. Enjoy!
MESSAGE #31. Sat Jul 7 16:24:18 EDT 2007. Prof. Doug Hamilton wrote:
    Andrew Lund has just released Star Race which we have posted in the Solar System Viewers section. The program animates the life of two stars born at the same time - which burns through it fuel fastest and what will they become in the end?
MESSAGE #30. Sat Jul 7 16:19:11 EDT 2007. Prof. Doug Hamilton wrote:
    Noam Reisner has updated the "Did You Know ..." feature that appears on the main Astronomy Workshop page. He has added a number of new questions, produced locally-supported descriptions and images, and updated all external links. Noam and I will continue to add new content over the summer.
MESSAGE #29. Wed Apr 11 09:08:36 EDT 2007. Prof. Doug Hamilton wrote:
    Michael VanDaniker has just released our first version of the Solar Systems Visualizer, posted in the Solar System Viewers section. The program animates the orbits i) the planets and minor bodies (asteroids and comets) in our Solar System, ii) planetary satellites and rings, and iii) extrasolar planets all in a single application. A smooth zoom feature gives the user a sense of scale, and toggle buttons allows the view to be customized. Additional comets, asteroids, and Kuiper belt objects will be added soon and we eventually plan to take this application into 3D. Try it out!
MESSAGE #28. Tue Oct 17 10:51:46 EDT 2006. Prof. Doug Hamilton wrote:
    Kaveh Pahlevan has written a very nice application to translate between position and velocity components and orbital elements for both elliptical and hyperbolic orbits. Try it out: Changing the Elements in the Working with Orbits section. I've also made several upgrades to the Central Force Integrator, including improving the sampling rate near the origin so that orbital curves appear smooth and continuous.
MESSAGE #27. Fri Sep 1 11:57:13 EDT 2006. Prof. Doug Hamilton wrote:
    Yesterday, we experienced a catastrophic loss of the hard disk holding the Astronomy Workshop. As a result, the site was down for 22 hours (from 1:24pm Thursday through 11:24am today) while a new hard disk was installed, and a copy of the contents of the disk was restored from backup. Most Astronomy Workshop functionality has been restored, although there may still be some minor glitches to repair. Sorry for any inconvenience!
MESSAGE #26. Thu Jul 20 19:25:48 EDT 2006. Prof. Doug Hamilton wrote: MESSAGE #25. Wed Sep 14 18:48:13 EDT 2005. Prof. Doug Hamilton wrote:
    Kristofer Quinn has done an impressive job upgrading the Rogue Star application. The application is now fully 3D with slider bars that allow the scale and viewing orientation to be changed while the animation is running. In addition, click on the name of any object to center it in the screen. Enjoy!
MESSAGE #24. Sat Jul 24 17:19:50 2004. Prof. Doug Hamilton wrote:
    I've added counters to the Scientific Notation and Working With Equations sites so that students can keep track of the number of problems that they answer right and wrong. Check it out! Also, a power outages caused the AW server to be offline Friday night through Saturday afternoon.
MESSAGE #23. Thu Jul 15 18:56:43 2004. Prof. Doug Hamilton wrote: MESSAGE #22. Fri Jul 09 13:37:29 2004. Prof. Doug Hamilton wrote:
    A new tool written by Armen Galustyan, Earth's Seasons, is now available under Explore the Possibilities. Find out how our planet's tilt affects the amount of sunlight reaching different places at different times of the year.
MESSAGE #21. Fri Jul 09 12:00:33 2004. Prof. Doug Hamilton wrote:
    The main Astronomy Workshop Page is now updated continually with a new Featured Tool and Astro Fact every day. There is also a new What's Hot link on the main page which is updated daily. Follow it to see which Astronomy Workshop tools others find most useful.
MESSAGE #20. Wed Jun 16 17:50:22 2004. Prof. Doug Hamilton wrote:
    We have done a rare internal reorganization of the Workshop to facilitate future upgrades. If you have linked to individual tools or pages within the Astronomy Workshop, check your links! Some of them will need to be updated! Links to these popular tools: and a number of others should be changed. Sorry for any inconvenience.
MESSAGE #19. Tue Apr 20 17:04:26 2004. Prof. Doug Hamilton wrote:

MESSAGE #18. Tue Mar 09 11:51:17 2004. Prof. Doug Hamilton wrote:

    Today Leila Malayeri's Life of the Sun animation debuts on the Astronomy Workshop!

    Also William Jacobson and I have completed the first of many planned improvements to Rogue Star. This version has i) Cleaner graphics, ii) Better handling of massive Rogue Stars, and iii) 15% faster download time for dialup modem users. Watch for further improvements!

MESSAGE #17. Sat Jan 31 11:21:03 2004. Prof. Doug Hamilton wrote:

    Another 24 hour server outage - Sorry! It is the dead of winter with subzero temperatures outside, but Janus overheated and shut itself off. We've replaced a faulty cooling fan, and put the server in a cooler environment to avoid the problem in the future.

    Coming soon - new updates to Rogue Star and a new animation: the Life of the Sun! Watch for them!

MESSAGE #16. Tue Jul 1 16:50:08 2003. Prof. Doug Hamilton wrote:

    Ooops! The Workshop was down over the past weekend for a server upgrade and a few related problems. This almost never happens - sorry for the inconvenience!

MESSAGE #15. Mon Jun 9 18:20:16 2003. Kaveh Pahlevan wrote:

    Our long-anticipated mainpage update is finally here! Among the changes are:

MESSAGE #14. Thu Dec 26 18:24:09 2002. Prof. Doug Hamilton wrote:

    Numerous Improvements this month:
    • All Tools - Improved and Standardized Error Checking and Error Messages
    • Rogue Star - Significant Reduction in Data File Size to Improve Download Speed for Users with Modems.
    • Orbital Elements (3D) - Several Bug Fixes and Improved Graphics

MESSAGE #13. Mon Nov 25 19:38:06 2002. Prof. Doug Hamilton wrote:

MESSAGE #12. Sat Nov 23 10:44:35 2002. Prof. Doug Hamilton wrote:

    Astronomy Workshop Users:

    We are in the process of upgrading the Astronomy Workshop server. The new server is still at http://janus.astro.umd.edu/, and it is about 10 times faster than the old one. You should notice significant performance improvements in almost all applications, especially the Orbital Integration programs. We are still tracking down a few bugs - notably in the "Rogue Star", "Planetary Satellite Integrator", and "Three Body Integrator" applications. Sorry for the inconvenience. Please report any other problems that you might have to me! Cheers, Doug Hamilton

MESSAGE #11. Fri Aug 3 10:32:38 2001. Mike Asbury wrote:

    We've got a new program under the "Astronomy for Beginner's" section. This program, called Rogue Star, will let you send another star through the Solar System and see what kind of havoc it will cause.

    Hope you like it! As always, comments are welcomed!

MESSAGE #10. Thu Jun 14 13:12:44 2001. Mandy Proctor wrote:

    We have updated the Working with Equations page. There are more equations and you may now select which equations you would like to work with.

    The Satellite and Planetary Calculators have also been upgraded. Both pages have error checkers to spot when you have may an error in entering your equation. Enjoy!!

MESSAGE #9. Fri Apr 13 16:07:13 2001. Mike Asbury wrote:

    We have updated the Solar System Viewer with some new features. Now you can control the speed of the animation. You can even stop it and start it up again. Also, now the comets show the name associated with them, so you can watch for your favorite comet.

    We have also update the Satellite Viewer, to include the newest moons of Jupiter, Saturn and Uranus!

    Lastly, we have updated the ExtraSolar Planets applet to include all the known multiplanet extrasolar planetary systems!

    Have fun with these new additions!

MESSAGE #8. Tue Dec 5 19:14:58 2000. Prof. Doug Hamilton wrote:

    The last lingering bugs from the server upgrade have finally been squashed! The orbital integrators are all back on line now. I learned more about how twitchy a server can be than I ever wanted to know. No more server upgrades for a few years!

MESSAGE #7. Fri Aug 18 17:01:58 2000. Prof. Doug Hamilton wrote:

    We have upgraded the Astronomy Workshop server software. An improved response time should be noticeable, especially for the java animations in the Solar System Viewers, and Working with Orbits sections.

    We have also added an index to the main page which lists all Astronomy Workshop tools currently available. We hope that this will be useful!

MESSAGE #6. Wed Jul 19 13:31:29 2000. Prof. Doug Hamilton wrote:

    We have developed two new calculator for the Astronomy Workshop and posted them on the main webpage. One calculator allow you to compare data from the nine planets, while the other operates on the 63 moons in the solar system. Calculate the escape velocity, the surface gravity, the orbital period, or one of more than ten other pre-defined quantities for each of these objects. Or create and evaluate your own formulae. The output is an easy-to-read table which allows the moons and planets of our Solar System to be compared at a glance.

    Enjoy!

MESSAGE #5. Mon Jan 10 14:36:26 2000. Prof. Doug Hamilton wrote:

    Counters have been added to the main Astronomy Workshop page and the Solar System Collisions page.

MESSAGE #4. Fri Jan 7 11:42:59 2000. Mike Asbury wrote:

    An animated simulation program called, "Build Your Own Solar System" has been added to the "Astronomy for Beginners" section. This program allows you to pick from 1-4 planets and place them around a star of your choice. What you get back is an animated view of your solar system, with pictures of your planets.

    Could life exist in your solar system? Try it and find out!

MESSAGE #3. Mon Nov 29 14:37:53 1999. Prof. Doug Hamilton wrote:

    We have removed the passwords formerly required by several of the tools in "Orbital Simulations". In addition, we now have four new simplified versions of the Three-Body Integrator available. Try them out!

MESSAGE #2. Tue Nov 9 19:22:16 1999. Prof. Doug Hamilton wrote:

    The server for The Astronomy Workshop has been upgraded to a fast new machine. Speed increases should be especially noticeable for the links in the "Orbital Simulations" section.

    Two new animated "Solar System Viewers" are now available. One shows the motions of the planets, comets, asteroids, and Kuiper belt objects in our Solar System. The other animates the two known multiple-planet extrasolar Solar Systems.

    Enjoy!

MESSAGE #1. Mon Sep 6 15:41:46 1999. Prof. Doug Hamilton wrote:

    Four new Bulletin Boards are now available for use with the Astronomy Workshop! It is my hope that users of the Astronomy Workshop will share their experiences and ideas with each other and with us.



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