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Interested in an advanced star atlas/iPhone/iPad?

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#1 Nop

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Posted 11 June 2012 - 07:08 AM

I really miss a high contrast atlas for my iPhone and iPad. At the 18" scope, i'm using the excellent sky safari, but it lacks contrast and intuitive controls PDF readers don't support night vision modes and are very slow when loading large pdfs.
So i decided to make one myself. It is based on the excellent Triatlas and used with permission. The app will be free of charge (maybe i'll make a pro version later with integrated memo recorder). Stars up to 12.6 and galaxies up to mag 15.7.
The features in te upcoming release are:
intuitive navigation (index-chart with all constellations zoom in to subcharts)
excellent performance.
atlas zoom, pinch, scroll,
night vision
flip chart
mirror chart
brightness control

Future versions will have
memorecorder (with GPS stamp)
messier/ngc/ic search


Note that it is an atlas: no planetarium features or searching (yet). But it will suit my needs. What do you think?
Regards
Norbert

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#2 Nop

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Posted 11 June 2012 - 07:16 AM

Night vision preview

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#3 rmollise

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Posted 11 June 2012 - 07:17 AM

Sweet. I don't have much recourse to a static atlas these days...but when I do, this will be cool.

#4 helpwanted

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Posted 11 June 2012 - 07:58 AM

Back to Sky Safari for a moment. You said not enough contrast... Just turn off all the colors and go to night vision, the end result looks just like your second picture.
What you are making in interesting, but I think if you play with more settings in SS, you can get to where you want.

#5 psonice

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Posted 11 June 2012 - 08:11 AM

I bet this will be very useful to a lot of people (a simple planetarium is better for my needs - but then an atlas is pretty much useless when light pollution makes most of the stars invisible!)

The night mode looks totally wrong though - you've got white on red, surely it should be red on black or black on red? A red background seems like a bad idea anyway. Are you just putting a transparent red UIView on top of it? It would be better to change the drawing itself if you are.

#6 Nop

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Posted 11 June 2012 - 08:20 AM

Tanks for your responses. @helpwanted. I didn't try that! Thanks for the hint
I have to play around with night vision. I have a combination of uiview and a pixelmap which inverts (difference) the colors. The combination comes close to good night vision, but i'll have to figure it out.

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#7 psonice

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Posted 11 June 2012 - 08:38 AM

I have to play around with night vision. I have a combination of uiview and a pixelmap which inverts (difference) the colors. The combination comes close to good night vision, but i'll have to figure it out.


You mean you're using a LUT to get colour values? If so I've found the best way to handle it is to convert to greyscale first, then simply zero the green/blue values. This gives you red on black if the chart is white on black, and you don't have to worry about losing e.g. blue or green text (they turn black if you're just using red values).

You can invert the resulting values, but this is best if it's optional I think unless your charts are black on white. As a rule you want nothing but red (pink = red + white, and white is bad!), so green/blue values should always be zeroed, and you want the minimum light possible so the goal is red text / stars on a black background. It can help if you can also dim the red (just multiply the red value by e.g. 0.5 for half brightness), although it's somewhat limited as you can't control the backlight.

All of this would be much easier (and actually 'free' when it comes to performance) if apple would just let us modify the colour/gamma LUTs on the GPU :)

#8 marques

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Posted 16 June 2012 - 06:06 AM

I think it´s a great idea! Above all, the possibility to record observations, looks interesting. Right now, you have to carry paper and pencil, no matter how "technological" your deployment may be. It´s ok, but paper is problematic sometimes, due to dew and wind.
What about and object´s index? J. Torres has one in plain text that I transformed into excel, if you need it, PM me.
And last question. Had you used the A, B or C charts? It could be nice to have the three of them. IMHO, A set is perfect for the finder and for quick searchs of not too difficult objects.

#9 vkhastro1

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Posted 18 June 2012 - 07:38 AM

Definitely a need for your advanced star atlas.
I'd would use it, if available.
Go for it!!

#10 bicparker

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Posted 18 June 2012 - 11:30 AM

This is really not a new idea as there already is a star atlas iOS app that is chart based - Star Charts by Wil Tirion.

It does not go as deep as your proposed program (stars to mag 6), but uses an existing set of charts (which I happen to own and bought in Australia) that he made a few years ago. It is not a bad application, really, but very simple in its design.

#11 Ain Soph Aur

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Posted 19 June 2012 - 10:16 AM

I am looking forward to this app! While I am a dedicated SkySafari Pro user, I can see where an excellent star atlas would be a much value.

#12 Astraforce Paul

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Posted 20 June 2012 - 03:28 PM

The app looks good and the features sound intriguing!

Definitely let us know when it's available on iTunes; along with others, I would certainly download it.

#13 rmollise

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Posted 20 June 2012 - 04:56 PM

This is really not a new idea as there already is a star atlas iOS app that is chart based - Star Charts by Wil Tirion.

It does not go as deep as your proposed program (stars to mag 6), but uses an existing set of charts


Tri Atlas, which he is using does exist. ;)

#14 bicparker

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Posted 20 June 2012 - 09:01 PM

This is really not a new idea as there already is a star atlas iOS app that is chart based - Star Charts by Wil Tirion.

It does not go as deep as your proposed program (stars to mag 6), but uses an existing set of charts


Tri Atlas, which he is using does exist. ;)


Tri Atlas isn't an iOS app, though, is it (it isn't listed in the App Store)? Star Charts by Wil Tirion is. That was the only thing I was saying. Tri Atlas is basically a collection of atlas PDF files that aren't (yet) integrated into an app on the App Store.

Star Charts by Wil Tirion has some basic search (star and constellation) and a few other features. It appears to have some of the same issues as are being discussed here regarding its red "night" mode.

It uses the Star Charts loose page printed atlas that Tirion published in Australia in 2005 along with Astrovisuals. Astrovisuals released it as an iPad/iPhone app last September.

Again, this isn't as deep as the Tri Atlas group of maps, but it is an app and isn't a bad small atlas app for quick references.

#15 rmollise

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Posted 21 June 2012 - 07:02 AM

Tri Atlas isn't an iOS app, though, is it (it isn't listed in the App Store)? Star Charts by Wil Tirion is.


The Tirion app is based on a set of charts. His proposed atlas is based on a set of charts. And the app can't exist before it is finished. ;)

#16 bicparker

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Posted 21 June 2012 - 07:19 AM

And Rod, that was my point originally... that there is already an app using charts. nothing more.. I guess I'm missing your point.. which is?????

#17 Nop

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Posted 25 June 2012 - 09:38 AM

Yes, its based on charts, it is essentially comparable to star charts (Will Tirion), but my app will have more than 250 charts, fully dimmable and a bigger feature set targeted for the observer (like built in memo recorder with GPS timestamp). I am even thinking about an integrated sketch pad!
( If you have an iPad or iPhone and want to beta test: send me a mail to info@ddq.nl )

#18 bicparker

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Posted 25 June 2012 - 11:17 AM

Norbert,
I look forward to your application. It will definitely be deeper than Wil's. I was particularly interested in his because it used those same charts I purchased in Australia several years ago. The charts are A4 sized and useful for quick views.

After using Wil's app a bit, I have found that an object index is the thing I probably miss the most. I am also curious... have you considered putting in any chart annotation features? I look at my and others' paper charts and they have collected tons of pencil notes over the years that I find myself relying upon for observing.

Good luck with it!

#19 Nop

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Posted 20 July 2012 - 08:23 AM

Here's a sneak preview. About 40% of the maps are in. A lot of work in spare time. But it has to be complete on my next observing trip in August.

http://www.youtube.c...player_embedded

#20 AndreaF

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Posted 20 July 2012 - 09:26 AM

very good! could you add a button to draw a circle in the middle of the window to simulate the eyepiece view? it could be a great help with starhopping

#21 Dave Ittner

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Posted 21 July 2012 - 11:33 AM

I am a "poor man" when it comes to astronomy. I try to find ways to save money and therefore love the free TriAtlas charts. When the IPAD came out I uploaded all of the C chart PDFs groups (ie C241-270). Each are about 25 Meg +. I found it cumbersome to navigate around. So I created individual single chart PDFs (540 of them) and uploaded them into my IPAD.

This improved the speed and responsiveness a good amount.

I really like your app and feel it will be a great improvement over my manually jumping around.

Right now I use a printed version of the A set as my index. Looking at this IMHO is better than looking at the index for the C charts. Those blue lines are way to thick. The map is stretched too much at the poles for my taste.

Do you plan to have the ability to hot jump to another chart? (one that is not linked to the current chart you are viewing)

Dave

#22 Dave Ittner

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Posted 21 July 2012 - 01:24 PM

I am getting excited thinking about how useful this app could be.

What I would like to see is an overall app that helps me navigate the A, B, and C set of charts.

For example, if your app was displaying chart A1, there would be navigation boxes on the edges of the chart that would allow you to go to other A related charts.

*** But at the same time there are notations in the chart to go to B charts as well as C charts. How neat it would be to dive down one level to B10 for example ("10" located on A1 close to 0h RA +50 Dec). Or to dive even deeper down to C55 ("55" just above "10").

Once you are looking at B10 you will notice on the bottom right hand corner this chart is labeled B10 but just above that it shows A1, which is a link one level above) It would be nice to have that as a clickable link.

Still while on B10 there are identifiers for the C charts - it would be nice to make them linkable so we could dive down one level deeper.

When looking at C55, it also shows C55 in the bottom right hand corner with A1/B10 just above it. Again it would be nice to have each of those as links to go 1 or 2 levels higher.

When down in the C charts it is nice to back up one level to the B chart, or even higher and go to the A chart.

I am not sure if what I am asking is possible but it would be nice to have all 3 sets of charts from the TriAtlas linked together so one can zoom in or out at will.

Can this be done?

#23 Nop

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Posted 23 July 2012 - 06:36 AM

Hi Dave,
Good news! The app will be free of charge.(maybe i'll add some freemium versions later).
The set only includes the C charts. The app will be approx 600Megabytes. If I had to include the other charts, it will be a beast. And will take a lot of time to implement.
The Phone/Pad handles zooming very well, so IMHO, there is no need for the A/B types.
You can flip pages. Using the left-right buttons and return to the index with a 'back' style button.

@Andrea, i'll implement FOV indicators

#24 psonice

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Posted 23 July 2012 - 07:14 AM

Nop: 600MB? Are you storing the charts as bitmaps? If so, take a look at some of the options. If you're storing them as PDF, the mac has an open to export a pdf with compression which may help cut the size, alternatively you could try vectorising them (I'm pretty sure there are some good tools to help with this) as that should improve the speed massively.

If you are stuck with bitmaps, keeping them under the GPU's maximum texture size (1024^2 on older models up to 4096^2 on newer ones) might help on older devices.

#25 Dave Ittner

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Posted 23 July 2012 - 09:54 AM

In regards to your statement:
"The Phone/Pad handles zooming very well, so IMHO, there is no need for the A/B types."

What do you plan to offer for a bigger picture? The index that JT provides for the C set of charts sucks IMHO. It would be a pain in the $&%* to open up and scroll around to find the appropriate chart you need. That is for when you are jumping from one section in the sky to another and not immediately nearby.

On another note - can you describe how you are able to take his charts and create links to other charts?






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