Sixth Catalog of Orbits of Visual Binary Stars: format of text version The format of the Sixth Orbit Catalog has been extensively modified, in order to address a couple shortcomings in the original format. First, some users of the catalog requested that published formal errors for orbital elements be included when available. Also, new techniques such as long-baseline interferometry have in recent years yielded orbits with ever shorter periods and smaller semi-major axes. The range in these values (for example, periods >100,000 years on the one extreme, periods quoted to 0.00000001 years or less at the other) did not fit in the number of characters initially allocated. Accordingly, the master file was widened considerably to accommodate both formal errors and higher precisions. Flags have been added to the period and semi-major axis columns, allowing periods to be quoted in centuries or days as well as years, semi-major axes in milliarcseconds as well as arcseconds, and T0 in modified Julian date as well as fractional Besselian year. (Codes for other units, such as periods in hours or semi-major axes in micro-arcseconds, will be added as needed). The format of the text version of the Sixth Catalog is as follows: column format description 1 T1,2I2,F5.2, epoch-2000 right ascension (hours, minutes, seconds). A1,2I2,f4.1 epoch-2000 declination (degrees, minutes, seconds). 2 T20,A10 WDS designation (based on arcminute-accuracy epoch- 2000 coordinates). 3 T31,A14 Discover designation and components, or other catalog designation. 4 T46,I5 ADS (Aitken Double Star catalog) number. 5 T52,I6 HD catalog number. 6 T59,I6 Hipparcos catalog number. 7 T67,F5.2,A1 Magnitude of the primary (usually V), and flag: > = fainter than quoted magnitude < = brighter than quoted magnitude v = variable magnitude k = magnitude is in K-band or other infrared band ? = magnitude is uncertain 8 T74,F5.2,A1 Magnitude of the secondary (usually V), and flag: > = fainter than quoted magnitude < = brighter than quoted magnitude v = variable magnitude k = magnitude is in K-band or other infrared band ? = magnitude is uncertain 9 T82,F11.6,A1 Period (P) and code for units: m = minutes (not yet used!) h = hours (not yet used!) d = days y = years c = centuries (rarely used) 10 T95,F10.6 Published formal error in P (in same units as for P). 11 T106,F9.5,A1 Semi-major axis (a) and code for units: a = arcseconds m = milliarcseconds (mas) M = arcminutes (used only for alp Cen + Proxima Cen) u = microarcseconds (uas - not yet used) 12 T117,F8.5 Error in a. Units are the same as for a. 13 T126,F8.4 Inclination (i), in degrees. 14 T135,F8.4 Error in i. 15 T144,F8.4,A1 Node (Omega), in degrees. An identified ascending node is indicated by an asterisk following the value. If the ascending node is later determined to off by 180deg, it is flipped, and a "q" code added to indicate the change. 16 T154,F8.4 Error in Omega. 17 T163,F12.6,A1 The time of periastron passage (T0) and code for units: c = centuries (fractional year / 100; used only for alp Cen + Proxima Cen) d = truncated Julian date (JD-2,400,000 days) m = modified Julian date (MJD = JD-2,400,000.5 days) y = fractional Besselian year 18 T177,F10.6 Error in T0. Units are the same as for T0. 19 T188,F8.6 Eccentricity (e). 20 T197,F8.6 Error in e. 21 T206,F8.4,A1 Longitude of periastron (omega), in degrees, reckoned from the node as listed. If the published omega value is later determined to fall in the wrong quadrant, the value is flipped by 180deg; a letter "q" indicates the quadrant has been corrected. 22 T215,F8.4 Error in omega. 23 T224,I4 Equinox, if any, to which the node refers. 24 T229,I4 Date of the last observation used in the orbit calculation, if published. 25 T234,I1 Orbit grade, ranging from 1 ("definitive") to 5 ("indeterminate"). Additionally, a grade of 8 is used for interferometric orbits based on visibilities rather than rho and theta measures (hence not gradable by the present scheme) and a grade of 9 indicates an astrometric binary (also lacking rho and theta data). 26 T236,A1 A flag "n" to any notes for this system. 27 T238,A8 A code for the reference (usually based on the name of the first author and the date of publication). 28 T247,A18 Name of image file (png format) illustrating orbit and all associated measures in the Washington Double Star database. Columns in the ephemeris file (orb6ephem.txt) are as follows: (Note: ephemeris file was updated 6 Jul 2015, following discussion with users) column format description 1 A10 WDS designation, as above. 2 T12,A14 Discoverer designation, as above. 4 T28,A8 Reference code, as above. 5 5(F5.1,F7.3,4X) Predicted values of theta and rho over a 5-year or 5(F5.1,F8.4,3X) timespan. Theta is given in degrees and rho in arcseconds. Rho values for a given pair are listed to 1mas precision unless at least one predicted value for that pair is under 10mas. In this case all values for the pair are listed to 0.1mas precision. 6 T116,A20 Text indicating astrometric orbit or pair with incomplete elements. Rho values are those of the photocenter relative to the barycenter for astrometric solutions. Obviously no theta or rho values are listed for pairs with incomplete elements.