In a text file I have a table of star data with Bayer/Flamsteed designations. I need to convert these into Hipparchos numbers. How can I automatically do this?
As the names and numbers are essentially arbitrary, the Hipparcos designation cannot be calculated from the Bayer or Flamsteed designation. Instead you have to look up the star in a database.
There is a HD-DM-GC-HR-HIP-Bayer-Flamsteed Cross Index on line. (Direct link)You can get a computer to do the look up for you. Or if you only have a small number of stars, you can use SIMBAD and do the look-up by hand.