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Old 06-01-2019, 10:37 AM
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Andy01 (Andy)
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New Astro imaging, Guiding, Focusing & Platesolving app for Mac OS

Has anyone else tried using this suite of programs yet?

Astroimager, AstroGuider, Astrometry & AstroTelescope

I've downloaded them and played around a bit with the sims.

Seems reasonably straightforward so far...

For mac users, inexpensive astro software (only 20 euros ea.) that captures, guides, focusses, plate solves, & controls the mount is uncommon indeed - and welcome!
They come with a free trial period for user evaluation.

I'm currently using Phd2, Nebulosity & Sky Safari - none of which can focus or platesolve so I'm keen to try these new ones out soon.

Last edited by Andy01; 06-01-2019 at 10:47 AM. Reason: typo
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Old 06-01-2019, 11:55 AM
spiezzy
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Hi Andy thank you for this looks very interesting i will down load and give them a try haven't found anything yet that beats Nebulosity 4 and SkySafari but its alway good to try something new .
I will have to use AstroDSLR but it seems pretty easy and has a YouTube Tutorial thanks again Andy
cheers Pete
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Old 06-01-2019, 06:28 PM
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Benjamin (Ben)
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Oo, I’m really interested in how this works and would love to hear what others experience. I’m currently running everything on my MacBook Pro using VirtualBox to run a Windows 10 64bit virtual machine. Took a long long time to setup but it all works. Communication errors arise occasionally and they are tough to diagnose and generally lead to much lost time and hair pulling. If this all worked then it would be wonderul to remove Windows altogether. I guess I better get the trial and see if I can get everything connected and talking to each other. Joy, something Astro to do when the clouds persist apart from reprocessing old data :-) Thanks for the link Andy.
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Old 07-01-2019, 04:10 PM
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silv (Annette)
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Hi
While http://nova.astrometry.net/upload was down over the Christmas period, I looked for another way to blind solve.
Found Cloudmaker's Astrometry.app and this particular part of their software package is completely free, no time limit.

Took the app 37seconds to blind solve where the online server, now online again, needs 1:30 minutes.

I admit it took me +1:30 hours to understand a) how blind solving works when there's no online service around and b) which index files to download

At first, I went "the usual way on a Mac": using Virtual Box with XP but couldn't get any freeware Windows app to do what I needed. Very complicated GUIs - and to me, also a very complicated task to get my head around, this blind solving thing.

After that steep but ultimately unsuccessful learning curve on XP, Astrometry.app was a breeze.

Cheers Annette
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Old 07-01-2019, 04:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by silv View Post

b) which index files to download

After that steep but ultimately unsuccessful learning curve on XP, Astrometry.app was a breeze.

Cheers Annette
Hi Annette, that’s encouraging!
I too am just learning plate solving - Which Index files should one download (and what are they anyway?)

Cheers
Andy
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Old 07-01-2019, 08:27 PM
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silv (Annette)
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tl;dr The index files contain star catalogs according to field of view, 2-MASS was used for the 42xx index files and Tycho-2 for the 41xx.

42xx index files are installed according to the field of view your gear images at. Choose the index files as listed in the screenshot (that's taken from a different program) and with the index files cover a range from 10-20% to 100% of your FOV.
You could download every index file but that leads to long processing time during blind solving.
42xx files are for all sorts of photos, wide and narrow fields.
41xx files are only good for wide field photos.

end_of tl;dr


From the FAQ of another astrometry app called AstroTortilla:
“Which index-files do I need?
Each index-file covers a section of sky at a certain resolution, it is recommended you download the index-files that cover features from your FoV down to 1/10th of the FoV. If you use multiple setups, you can download from the largest FoV to 1/10th of your smallest FoV.”


The index files are from nova.astrometry.net, a US tax funded service. Almost every plate solving app uses the same index repository. Once you know the index files numbers fit for your gear, that knowledge can be applied to all plate solving software running on the “astrometry.net engine” .
The index files contain the star catalog for a given Field of View and pixel details - which depends on your telescope’s focal length, the pixel size of your camera, and its used resolution.
As marked in bold in the previous paragraph, you need a range of FOV-indeces, covering the range of 10-20% up to 100% of your FOV.

Basically, plate solving first looks at the image and then cycles through all downloaded index files one after the other until it finds a match.
That means, the less index files you download, the quicker the solving. Downloading all index files is certainly possible for plate solving and blind solving but could potentially lead to a veeeery long processing time for your image. Free hard drive space is also a consideration for some computers: all indeces take up more than 10GB of space.
Sophisticated plate solving software determines the FOV and the likely index file to start with by settings you entered abut your gear.
Cloudmaker’s Astrometry.app has no program settings per se because it’s really meant to run as a background service to Cloudmaker’s software package. In stand-alone mode, it requires you to know your FOV, and to choose and download the matching indeces accordingly.
I don’t know if one of the other Cloudmaker programs is more sophisticated and automates the first index-file determination for cycling through the possibles to find a match. I haven’t tried them.

Of the several Windows apps I tried, “All Sky Plate Solver”, ASPS, http://www.astrogb.com/astrogb/All_S...te_Solver.html
to me was the most descriptive in the task of understanding which index files to download. Although not complete, as I’ll describe later.
Attached is a screenshot of the Index Installation Wizard. You open that wizard from the main program menu “Indexes”.

I entered my scope’s focal length, 500, the “pixel size”, 4.72 (which is actually the “pixel pitch” = the distance from the centre of 1 pixel to the centre of its neighboring pixel. But the app calls this value “pixel size”) and the image’s resolution, 4912 x 3264.
From this, the app calculates on the fly my FOV as 158’ x 110’.
And it highlights in yellow which index files to download. Neat, isn’t it?

The first highlighted index is “FOV 30’ to FOV 42’ index-4208”.
30 arcminutes translate to the recommended ~20% of my actual FOV of 158’.
The other highlighted indeces state the FOV in degrees * instead of in arcminutes.
The last yellow file covers the range from 2.0* to 2.8*. Which includes my 100% FOV of 158’ = 2.6 degrees.

If you know your gear’s FOV in arc minutes, you can skip installing ASPS and just decide from the screenshot which index files from the 42xx range to install in Cloudmaker’s Astrometry.app.
Installing ASPS and the software it depends on was a pain [amount of pain is relative to the actual person in front of the computer ]. So if you can get the information re arcminute FOV resolution (10% or 20% to 100%) for your gear from somewhere else and then refer to the screenshot for the 42xx-range of index files, you’d save yourself a few grey hairs. For example use SkySafari and enter your scope, barlow, and camera details in the “Equipment” settings to get the FOV in degrees.
Here you can convert from arcminutes to degree:
https://www.advancedconverter.com/un...tes-to-degrees
from degrees to arcminutes:
https://www.advancedconverter.com/un...-to-arcminutes


As mentioned previously, this index suggestion in the 42xx range turned out to be incomplete for my particular case/image. It’s a true widefield shot and that’s where the 41xx index range steps in. All 41xx indeces combined are ~400MB in size so size matters not. But processing time does.
I have found no explanation for the different 41xx index files and which of them to choose. So far, Astrometry.app was able to solve my photos by using the indeces 4107, 4011 and 4012 so I installed all indeces from 4107 - 4012.


Astrometry.app is picky regarding the image quality. For example, a photo of 15 seconds with a lot of light pollution noise is processed forever and then fails to get solved. When I adjust the RGB curves and reduce noise before feeding it to the app it gets through, but possibly taking much longer than the mentioned 37 seconds.
The “Index Manager” in Astrometry.app for installing the indeces is in the menu “Window”.


I need to add that I photograph manually using a Sony NEX-5N and have to convert the photo to a fits-file using GIMP. My fits-format lacks all the information a true astro-imaging software might add to a fits header. So your mileage might vary.
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Old 07-01-2019, 08:39 PM
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silv (Annette)
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I had forgotten everything I had discovered and learned since I installed Astrometry.app 10 days ago (and all the Windows programs I tried before). I had to look up everything again... This write-up was a good opportunity for me to train my grey cells.

I hope you'll find it useful and it answers some questions.

Cheers Annette
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Old 08-01-2019, 07:52 AM
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Wow! Thanks Annette - very comprehensive/informative - will take some time now to digest all that and get my head around plate solving indexes
Cheers!
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Old 08-01-2019, 09:16 AM
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I was going to suggest ASPS at least to work out what index files you need (You have boot camp on the laptop don't you?) I installed it recently along with APT (Windows system) I did not find the installation difficult, perhaps most of the dependencies were already installed.

Andy, if it came to it I can probably get an image file from you, run it through the index installation routine in ASPS (Given I have it installed already) and screenshot what indexes it thinks you need.

I can say that solving time is also pretty computer spec dependent, on the laptop I am using to image with I installed only the suggested indexes for the FOV I have now with the reducer installed, on the desktop machine I installed extra indexes relating to the scopes native focal length as well but it still solves significantly faster than the laptop.

I have to say after using APT for only a couple of nights, if Astroimager automates pointing as well as APT does you will love it. As soon as I got plate solving working (and my mount behaving itself) it lands the requested target on the center of the chip without fail.
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Old 21-02-2019, 06:55 PM
Astrolenn (Len)
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In Defence of the Indi Server for Astronomy

The Raspberry Pi (RPI) has added new focus to a low cost way to control the observatory devices and allow a backend server to communicate with Client Software either locally (on the same computer) or remotely using Ethernet, Wi-Fi or Bluetooth.
A fully functional RPI (Raspberry Pi) may not work with your remote mac, or having worked, may stop working.

Mostly, this is caused by an “unwanted upgrade” on the remote device. The INDI Server on my mac needs a licence and as soon as I do so, the first upgrade makes it into an INDIGO server. If we ignore the update and select CONTINUE when opening the INDI server, then it secretly enables “Use INDIGO DRIVERS”

The INDI Drivers from Indilib.org for the Losmandy Gemini 2 use simple USB to communicate, but the Gemini drivers from INDIGO require a USB to Serial adaptor, and then RS-232 must be run into an unused serial port on the controller. I have not been able to use INDI to ETHERNET without it changing my MOUNTS LOCATION, DATE or other obscure settings.

My RPI now runs Ubuntu Mate and has 3 shortcuts on the desktop.
INDI Starter
INDIgui – this is a client and I use it to connect to the INDI server to enter and confirm all my settings.
A LOCAL CLIENT – I use KStars / Ekos or Cartes du Ceil

KStars requires a LOCATION before proceeding straight to Ekos
Ekos has its own INDI config. panel that mimics all the initial settings I first did on the INDI Starter and INDIgui.


My Mac Mini went supernova with dust and dew so I have been exploring the Raspberry Pi option... cheap and it works a treat..


Is anyone regularly using remote INDI Servers for their astronomy?

Len
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