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In Inkscape it is impossible to edit the SVG images downloadable from here: https://archive.org/details/IauConstellationsSvg

Basically, there is a single, large group and I can't ungroup it.

Those pictures are under a CC-BY license so I don't think the author is trying to prevent anybody from editing them.

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    Perhaps too complex?? They open fine in Illustrator CS6. – Scott Oct 15 '14 at 18:25
  • Can you edit them, i.e. ungroup the main group and move things around? – gd1 Oct 15 '14 at 18:26
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    Yes. There are approximately 9 nested groups, then nested groups within that 9th group. There's a lot of unnecessary objects in addition to the base art though. Once you delete all the unnecessary objects the file looks good. – Scott Oct 15 '14 at 18:30
  • Is that a 7mb SVG!? – DA01 Oct 15 '14 at 18:31
  • 89 files @Da01 - Each is only a few hundred kb. – Scott Oct 15 '14 at 18:32
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I am not an Inkscape user. However, I would guess that perhaps the files are a bit too complex.

Opening one of the files in Illustrator CS6 I find a great deal of unnecessary objects - which appear to be very large type glyphs (all that black in the image below) - in addition to at least 9 nested groups.

enter image description here

Once I delete all those unnecessary objects I'm left with the base art which appears to look good - or at least usable, still in several nested groups and clipping groups though.

enter image description here

Of course, the art appears to be upside down and flipped, but that's an easy fix.

It's entirely possible that all those type glyphs were related to some text at the bottom of the artwork and simply got distorted upon either the SVG being saved, or Illustrator opening the SVG file.

  • Opening the same file in Illustrator CC2014 shows the same configuration with the exception of the Illustrator artboard being in a different location.
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  • I already accepted this answer, but I also wanted to tell you that you made my day. This was very useful and it made it possible for me to carry out a non-lucrative but equally important personal project. – gd1 Oct 20 '14 at 12:18

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