NED Frequently Asked Questions -- NED Interface

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(Latest revision: 12 December 2013)

NED Interface

How can I get a permanent record of my search results?

How do I get copies of the abstracts e-mailed to me?

Is there a way to have the list defaults in NED query pages automatically cleared of options?

We would like to automate access to NED using computer programs and scripts. Are there any issues with automation that we should be aware of?

I have a list of thousands of objects which I'd like to run through NED. What is the easiest way to do this?


  • Q.: How can I get a permanent record of my search results?

    A.: The method you use depends on how you access NED.

    1) World Wide Web interface. Any NED page may be directly downloaded to your machine using your Web browser. For example, in Netscape Navigator, click on "File", then "Save As", and fill out the form.

    2) Batch Mode. After your batch request has been processed, NED will send a notice by return e-mail letting you know that the data you requested is ready for FTP pickup.

  • Q.: How do I get copies of the abstracts e-mailed to me?

    A.: If you are accessing NED through the Web interface, you can download the abstracts or save them onto your machine via the "Save" option of your browser.

  • Q.: When I use a NED Form with scrollable lists of options, the default is always preset to a particular option. This forces me to exclude that option each time I use that list. Is there a way to have the list defaults in NED query pages automatically cleared of options?

    A.: This is the default behavior of NED (and any other Web site) when it is accessed with Internet Explorer: IE always highlights the first entry of each list it displays. If you access NED using Netscape Navigator, Firefox, Safari, or most other Web browsers, the default action is to display lists with no selections chosen.

    Unfortunately, this is a feature of Internet Explorer that we cannot easily program around, but we are working toward a solution.

  • Q.: We would like to automate access to NED using computer programs and scripts. Are there any issues with automation that we should be aware of?

    A.: Yes. NED's ability to support high volume/speed automated queries is limited. Please adhere to the NED Guidelines for Automated Queries. Thank you for your cooperation.

  • Q.: I have a list of thousands of objects which I'd like to run through NED. What is the easiest way to do this?

    A.: There are at least two methods that you should consider. If your list is shorter than 3,000 objects, a simple batch search should suffice. Get a copy of the fully-commented NED batch forms. This has complete instructions for submitting your batch job. You may submit as many of these as you wish; NED will send you a note by email when each job has finished.

    Another option is to submit multiple URLs via "wget", "curl", or a similar download program designed to work with URLs. NED uses the HTTP "get" protocol whenever possible with query filters and options encoded as simple URL name/value pairs in the form "&name=value".

    In this case, you will have to substitute a plus sign "+" for a space, and the string "%2B" for a plus sign if either of these symbols appears in a name you submit. For example, the name "SDSS J122653.91+333057.6" becomes "SDSS+J122653.91%2B333057.6". Here are some other examples.

    1) Retrieve basic data for Arp 220 and display it as a bar-separated ASCII table:

    http://ned.ipac.caltech.edu/cgi-bin/objsearch?objname=arp+220&extend=no&out_csys=Equatorial&out_equinox=J2000.0&of=ascii_bar

    2) Search for objects within 1.0 arcmin of Arp 220, sort them by their distances from Arp 220, and display their basic data as a tab-separated ASCII table:

    http://ned.ipac.caltech.edu/cgi-bin/objsearch?search_type=Near+Name+Search&objname=arp+220&radius=1.0&out_csys=Equatorial&out_equinox=J2000.0&obj_sort=Distance+to+search+center&of=ascii_tab

    3) Do the same 1.0-arcmin search, but from Arp 220's equatorial position for J2000.0, 15h34m57.1s, +23d30m11s:

    http://ned.ipac.caltech.edu/cgi-bin/objsearch?search_type=Near+Position+Search&in_csys=Equatorial&in_equinox=J2000.0&lon=233.73798d&lat=23.50319d&radius=1.0&out_csys=Equatorial&out_equinox=J2000.0&of=ascii_tab

    Many URLs like these may be put into a file named, for example, "getNEDdata.001". "wget" can then retrieve NED's data with a command like:

    wget --continue --input-file=getNEDdata.001 --output-document=NEDdata.001

    Note, too, that NED's data can be formatted as XML "Virtual Observatory" tables (VOTables). The first example URL above would return NED's data in XML format by substituting "&of=ascii_bar" with "&of=xml_main":

    http://ned.ipac.caltech.edu/cgi-bin/objsearch?objname=arp+220&extend=no&out_csys=Equatorial&out_equinox=J2000.0&of=xml_main

    Web-based Tools NED VO Services, Chapter 18 of The National Virtual Observatory: Tools and Techniques for Astronomical Research has more examples and detailed explanations for using NED's VO services.

    Please note that NED's ability to support high volume/speed automated queries is currently limited. We ask that you adhere to the NED Guidelines for Automated Queries. Thank you for your cooperation.


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