When choosing a value for the Domain attribute of a Frame, it obviously makes sense to avoid generic names which might clash with those used for similar (but subtly different!) purposes by other programmers. If you are developing software for an instrument, for example, and want to identify an instrumental coordinate system, then it is sensible to add a distinguishing prefix. For instance, you might use INST_FOCAL_PLANE, where INST (e.g. an acronym) identifies your instrument.
For some purposes, however, a standard choice of Domain name is desirable so that different items of software can communicate. For this purpose, the following Domain names are reserved by AST and the use recommended below should be carefully observed:
Identifies the coordinate space used by an underlying computer graphics system to specify plotting operations. Typically, when performing graphical operations, AST is used to define additional coordinate systems which are related to these ``native'' graphical coordinates. Plotting may be carried out in any of these coordinate systems, but the GRAPHICS domain identifies the native coordinates through which AST communicates with the underlying graphics system.
Identifies the instantaneous data grid used to store and handle data, together with an associated coordinate system. In this coordinate system, the first element stored in an array of data always has a coordinate value of unity at its centre and all elements have unit extent. This applies to all dimensions.
If data are copied or transformed to a new data grid (by whatever means), or a subset of the original grid is extracted, then the same rules apply to the copy or subset. Its first element therefore has GRID coordinate values of unity at its centre. Note that this means that GRID coordinates remain attached to the first element of the data grid and not to its data content (e.g. the features in an image).
Identifies an array of pixels and an associated pixel-based coordinate system which is related to the GRID coordinate system (above) simply by a shift of origin along each axis. This shift may be integral, fractional, positive, negative or zero. The data elements retain their unit extent along each axis.
Because the amount of shift is unspecified, the PIXEL domain is distinct from the GRID domain. The relationship between them contains a degree of uncertainty, such as typically arises from the different conventions used by different software systems. For instance, in some software the first pixel is regarded as being centred at (1,1), while in other software it is at (0.5,0.5). In addition, some software packages implement a ``pixel origin'' which allows pixel coordinates to start at an arbitrary value.
The GRID domain (which corresponds with the pixel-numbering convention used by FITS) is a special case of the PIXEL domain and avoids this uncertainty. In general, additional information is required in order to convert from one to the other.
Identifies the domain which contains all equivalent celestial coordinate systems. Because these are represented in AST by SkyFrames (), it should be no surprise that the default Domain value for a SkyFrame is SKY. Since there is only one sky, you probably won't need to change this very often.
Identifies the domain used to describe positions within an electro-magnetic spectrum. The AST SpecFrame () class describes positions within this domain, allowing a wide range of different coordinate systems to be used (frequency, wavelength, etc). The default Domain value for a SpecFrame is SPECTRUM.
Identifies the domain used to describe moments in time. The AST TimeFrame class describes positions within this domain, allowing a wide range of different coordinate systems and timescales to be used. The default Domain value for a TimeFrame is TIME.
Although we have drawn a necessary distinction here between the GRID
and PIXEL domains, we will continue to refer in general terms to image
``pixels'' and ``pixel coordinates'' whenever this distinction is not
important. This should not be taken to imply that the GRID convention
for numbering pixels is excluded--in fact, it is usually to be
preferred (at the level of data handling being discussed in this
document) and we recommend it.
AST A Library for Handling World Coordinate Systems in Astronomy