Information on Service 'APFS Simple Query Form'

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The Apparent Places of Fundamental Stars (APFS) give exact geocentric positions for a selected set of FK6 stars.

For a list of all services and tables belonging to this service's resource, see Information on resource 'Intermediate and Apparent Places of Fundamental Stars'

Service Documentation

On Positions in APFS

APFS stands for "Apparent Places of Fundamental Stars", a term which we maintain due to its traditional use; introductorily, it might be appropriate to address the following issues:

  1. "apparent places" in the traditional sense are positions with right ascension referred to the equinox ("first point of Aries"). It was recommended by IAU 2000 Resolution B1.8 to use the "non-rotating origin" as new reference point for right ascensions on the celestial equator. The "non-rotating origin" – now called "Celestial Intermediate Origin (CIO)" – constitutes "intermediate places" instead of the former "apparent places". Declinations are not affected by this change of the zero point for right ascensions. For an undetermined transition period we shall provide equinox-based "apparent places" besides the CIO-based "intermediate places". However, the user should be aware that equinox-based right ascensions refer to a concept of the past, rather than to a forward-looking one. The notation "apparent places" will sometimes be used in text components to denote both kinds of ephemeris.
  2. There may be doubts in which respect the stars of Sixth Catalogue of Fundamental Stars (FK6) can still claim to be "fundamental". But there are good reasons to rely further on this well-defined subset of the former FK5 fundamental stars. We assume that these stars of the FK6 Part I (and Part III) are particularly suited as data base for computing apparent places because their parameters result from a careful combination of the Hipparcos astrometry satellite with long-term ground-based data as summarized in the FK5. Moreover, these selected stars behave apparently as single stars. Apparent places are also available for Polaris (FK6-No. 907) although it is not a single star; orbital corrections for the photo-center of Polaris are determined using the retrograde orbit from Wielen et al. (2000). Further details can be found in the cited references.
  3. From a star catalogues given in the "International Celestial Reference System (ICRS)", apparent places are obtained via the procedure explained e.g. in the Explanatory Supplement of the Astronomical Almanac. That means in principle for stellar ephemeris: transformation from J2000.0 to the desired epoch and from barycentric ICRS ephemeris to geocentric coordinates by considering space motion and parallax of a star as well as light deflection and annual aberration; finally, frame bias, precession and nutation have to be considered in order to obtain apparent places referred to the equator of date (and to the origin of date for right ascension).
  4. The IAU 2000/2006 precession-nutation is used for intermediate and apparent positions. This precession-nutation model is recommended by IAU 2006 Resolution B1 and shall be valid from 1 January 2009 onwards. It includes a new precession component (P03 precession theory) which replaces the P00 precession of the IAU 2000A precession-nutation model. Right ascensions and declinations determined by using this new or the prior precession-nutation model are almost identical at milliarcsec level, and differences will hardly be noticed by APFS users. We use JPL DE430 ephemeris where required.

On times in APFS

The dates and times in this service are taken as and given in Terrestrial Time (TT).

TT is related to Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) by:

TT = UTC + Δ(AT) + 32.184 sec

where Δ(AT) is an integer term depending on irregularities of the Earth's rotation. In 2006: Δ(AT) = 33 sec. The current value for Δ(AT) can be found in IERS Bulletin C.

That means that TT and UTC differ by roughly one minute. The computed apparent places are usually not affected by this difference in time-scale, except the last given digit of right ascensions for stars near the poles (as an effect of the underlying spherical coordinate system). In any case, if apparent places are used for conventional geodetic applications there is no need to consider this intricateness, and UTC may be set instead of TT. UTC is the civil time as disseminated by radio or TV, corrected for your time zone.


Software Routines from the IAU SOFA Collection were used. Copyright © International Astronomical Union Standards of Fundamental Astronomy (

Parts of this work make use of data from the European Space Agency (ESA) mission Gaia (, processed by the Gaia Data Processing and Analysis Consortium (DPAC, Funding for the DPAC has been provided by national institutions, in particular the institutions participating in the Gaia Multilateral Agreement.


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Input Fields

The following fields are available to provide input to the service (with some renderers, some of these fields may be unavailable):

NameTable Head DescriptionUnitUCD
_SET Output in N/A N/A N/A
endDate End date End date of generated ephemeris N/A N/A
hrInterval Interval of generation (hrs) Number of hours between two apparent positions N/A N/A
object Object Enter an FK6 number here, or a (decimal, comma-seperated) position, or simbad identifier to use the closest FK6 star. N/A N/A
startDate Start date Start date of generated ephemeris N/A N/A

Default Output Fields

The following fields are contained in the output by default. More fields may be available for selection; these would be given below in the VOTable output fields.

NameTable Head DescriptionUnitUCD
arg_hour Hour (TT) Hour of epoch (TT) hour time
dec δ Declination of object at epoch deg eq.pos.dec
isodate Date Date of epoch (TT) N/A time.epoch
raCio α (CIO) Right ascension of object at epoch in the CIO system deg eq.pos.ra
raEqu α (Equinox) Right ascension of object at epoch in the old equinox system deg eq.pos.ra

VOTable Output Fields

The following fields are available in VOTable output. The verbosity level is a number intended to represent the relative importance of the field on a scale of 1 to 30. The services take a VERB argument. A field is included in the output if their verbosity level is less or equal VERB*10.

NameTable Head DescriptionUnitUCD Verb. Level
isodate Date Date of epoch (TT) N/A time.epoch 1
arg_hour Hour (TT) Hour of epoch (TT) hour time 1
raCio α (CIO) Right ascension of object at epoch in the CIO system deg eq.pos.ra 1
dec δ Declination of object at epoch deg eq.pos.dec 1
raEqu α (Equinox) Right ascension of object at epoch in the old equinox system deg eq.pos.ra 20

VOResource XML (that's something exclusively for VO nerds)