STARBASE is a collection of scripts written in IDL with additional functions written in C callable from within IDL. The scripts are run interactively.

STARBASE provides a table structure which can be filled with astrometric and astrophysical information on a list of stars from catalogs, auxilliary data files, and by computation. The star list can be either an entire catalog or a list compiled by the user. The former option can be invoked using a single command for various catalogs (e.g. the Bright Star Catalog, get_bsc). The name of the data base variable is STARTABLE.

STARBASE distinguishes several types of external data files. Primary catalogs have their own unique identifier, e.g. HDN, and are accessed using C external functions. These catalogs are static and never changed. Secondary catalogs are either extensions of primary catalogs (as in the case of HDN, which is based on SkyCat 2000, only complete to $V=8$, and does not contain many of the MIDI calibrators), or implement dynamical catalogs (as in the case of MIR, for mid-infrared targets not contained in the HD primary catalog). Finally, lists contain specific data for selected stars identified by a primary catalog ID, e.g. jhk.hdn contains JHK magnitude for selected HD stars.