The Carina Nebula

11 Recommended Open Source Multi-Platform Astronomy Software


VStar is a multi-platform, easy-to-use variable star observation visualisation and analysis tool developed in collaboration with the American Association of Variable Star Observers and the Citizen Sky project. Data can be read from a file or the AAVSO database, light curves and phase plots created, period analysis performed, and filters applied. Plugins can be developed, e.g. to make additional observation sources available.

VStar is primarily intended for use with variable star data, but any data that can be represented in terms of a Julian Date and magnitude (or other numerical values) is suitable.


  • Loads data from the AAVSO database, CSV, and TSV files. Observations from other sources (e.g. other AAVSO sources, Kepler, SuperWASP, ASAS) can be loaded via plug-ins found in the AAVSO Plug-in Library
  • Displays light curves and phase plots, along with a mean curve
  • View data in tabular format
  • Print and save views
  • Period analysis – analyze a dataset for candidate periods (the time taken for a star’s variability to complete one full cycle). VStar implements the Date Compensated Discrete Fourier Transform (DCDFT) algorithm (Ferraz-Mello 1981), yielding a power spectrum and a table of “top-hits” given a specified series, frequency (or period) range, and resolution
  • Time-frequency analysis permits changes in period over time to be discovered
  • Polynomial fitting
  • Filtering function
    • The Observation Filter Dialog
    • Creation of a filter from the current plot view
    • An Observation List selection filter
    • A custom observation filter plug-in
  • Plug-in architecture (observation sources, period analysis, filtering, other tools)
  • Weighted Wavelet Z-Transform for time-frequency analysis

To run VStar, you'll need version 1.6 or higher of the Java runtime environment installed on your computer.

Developer: David Benn, Doug Welch, and others
License: Affero GNU Public License, version 3
Written in: Java

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