06 July 2008

xephem in Ubuntu

I was out with friends last night (4th of July fireworks), and they asked me to identify a bright object in the sky (I used to be an astronomer). I'm really out of practice at that kind of thing, so I speculated that it was Sirius (there was some light cloud cover, and I couldn't see whether or not this object was southeast of Orion, but it was pretty bright). Turns out I was wrong.

There's a really cool desktop ephemeris program called Xephem from the Clear Sky Institute. So I installed that on my Ubuntu desktop this morning to find what that thing was last night. I had to fulfill a few dependencies to compile xephem. Here's what I had to install first (I just explicitly installed the ones in bold--apt-get installed the packages in parentheses as dependencies):
  • libxt-dev (libsm-dev, libice-dev)
  • x11proto-print-dev
  • libxp-dev
  • libxext-dev (x11proto-xext-dev)
  • libxmu-headers (?)
  • libxmu-dev

(I'm not sure I needed libxmu-headers.)

After that I mostly just followed the directions in the INSTALL file from the xephem download. I copied the data directories (auxil, catalogs, etc.) to /usr/share/xephem (a directory I created) and put the following in ~/.xephem/XEphem (xephem didn't seem to want to read /usr/X11R6/lib/X11/app-defaults/XEphem as the INSTALL file suggested):

XEphem.ShareDir: /usr/share/xephem

I also gziped the man page (xephem.1) before copying it to /usr/share/man/man1/xephem.1.gz. And I created /usr/share/doc/xephem-3.7.3/ and copied in the Copyright, INSTALL, and README files.

By the way, that object turned out to be Jupiter. shrug

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