My VSTAR will not recognize text files sitting in a directory with the “New Star from File…” option

American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO)
Sat, 02/04/2023 - 00:50

 I have been running VSTAR a lot on my old MacBook Pro, where the usual mode is to take my own light curves into a text file (just a listing of HJD and mag for many lines) that I usually name “ft.dat”.  When I got a new MacBook Pro (running MacOS Big Sur version 11.4), roughly two years ago, my old system was ported to the new laptop, but VSTAR did not work at all.  Recently, I tried downloading the most recent version, but could never get it working.  The thought was that the new improved processor on my latest laptop (Apple M1 chip) was incompatible with VSTAR.  So I kept up my old laptop, mainly just to run VSTAR.  After a year, I tried downloading a new version of VSTAR, thinking that such a problem would inevitably have been fixed.  I could get VSTAR to open and run OK.  Or at least, I could get Fourier transforms of data files imported with the “New Star from AAVSO database…” option (under “File”).  OK, so it is basically working.  But when I tried to have it “New Star from File…” option, the “Open” popup screen would always be blank, with no options to upload any files.  I would create new files, like “ft.dat”, or “ft” or “ft.txt”, in a variety of ways, but they would never be shown as options on the Open box.  In the “Open” box, the pull down “File Format” menu has only the option “‘csv’, ‘dat’, ’tsv’, ’txt’”.  My wife (who knows a lot more about these sort of things than I) played around with it a lot (like downloading VSTAR yet again), but could never make a change.  So at this point, I cannot have VSTAR read datafiles for my target stars, so it is broken.  (My current version of VSTAR is 2.22.0.)  What can you recommend for trying to fix this?

Astronomical Society of South Australia (ASSAU)
Opening files

Hi Brad

This may be related to a problem that has reared its head in a few contexts, e.g. see

Can you tell me whether you have the same problem only when you try to open files in a particular folder such as Documents? Are you able to open files in Downloads or some other folder?


the pull down “File Format” menu has only the option “‘csv’, ‘dat’, ’tsv’, ’txt’”

be sure to select the desired Source in the open file dialog, e.g. Download or Simple, Kepler/TESS or some other observation source plugin.

If we need to have a zoom call to sort this out, happy to do so.


American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO)
Work-around found


Yes, my problem (VSTAR not seeing my ft.dat files) sounds close to what was in the cited thread.  What I got from the cited thread is that the the problem is not with VSTAR, but some sort of permissions problem, possibly with Mac OS, but no solution.  I tried putting my ft.dat files into a variety of directories but they were still invisible.  Within VSTAR, I could still pull out data from the AAVSO data base and APASS, but I have no idea how to put my many DASCH and TESS datafiles into the required format, so these could not be tested.  The page had suggestions for changing permissions, but these did not work.

Finally, as part of continuing thrashing around, with a view to where permissions might be special, I put my ft.dat file into the very highest level directory of all, my user directory.  And it worked!  VSTAR sees my ft.dat in this directory, and I have now done real work with V394 CrA TESS data cast into a new ft.dat file placed into my topmost user directory.  So, we have a simple work-around solution.  Great!

Thank you for your help on this.