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#1 CelestronDaddy

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Posted 01 January 2013 - 07:19 PM

Did a search and didn't see much mentioned on the NexStar forum. I know there is a specific forum on astronomical software and I've been looking around there. I have Stellarium loaded on my desktop and use it often just to have a look at what is up! I've also been looking at Sky Tools 3 Standard Edition. Sky Tools 3 has a lot of features that I would or could probably use. Are any of you using either of these or perhaps something different? I'd be interested in hearing about it before I may make a purchase. Happy New Year and hope you don't have clouds like me ..... Tony

#2 cn register 5

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Posted 02 January 2013 - 04:14 AM

The software you use will depend on what you want to do with it.

I use Cartes du Ceil - a free download - for star charting and scope control. It's partly familiarity but I find that it's reliable and doesn't take too much resources.

Chris

#3 Tel

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Posted 02 January 2013 - 04:25 AM

Hi Tony,

A very happy New Year to you and yours and may you have more than your share of clear skies. :bow::bow:

You may have already downloaded these but if not, these "freebies" rank among those which I find useful and refer to from time to time.

1) Virtual Moon Atlas.

http://ap-i.net/avl/en/start

2) Heavens Above. (Useful for obtaining daytime planetary co-ordinates -- viewing Venus/Jupiter in daylight -- and more importantly comet co-ordinates from night to night.

http://www.heavens-above.com/

3)American Association of Variable Star Observers' plotter, (AAVSO). Useful for comparing star field positions with that which are seen in the EP. (Courtesy of my good CN friend Tony Dralle who put me onto this one). :bow:

http://www.aavso.org/vsp

Perhaps these help ?

Best regards,
Tel

#4 Arthur Dent

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Posted 02 January 2013 - 06:20 AM

Hi Tony

If you are into AP - check out this collection of (mostly) free software:

Art's Links to Astrophotography Software

Available as a link in the "Links and Best of the Celestron NexStar forum" section of this forum.

Art

#5 Skip

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Posted 02 January 2013 - 12:57 PM

Did a search and didn't see much mentioned on the NexStar forum. I know there is a specific forum on astronomical software and I've been looking around there. I have Stellarium loaded on my desktop and use it often just to have a look at what is up! I've also been looking at Sky Tools 3 Standard Edition. Sky Tools 3 has a lot of features that I would or could probably use. Are any of you using either of these or perhaps something different? I'd be interested in hearing about it before I may make a purchase. Happy New Year and hope you don't have clouds like me ..... Tony



Hi Tony,

I use Stellarium on my desktop all the time. I love it! I also have it on my iPhone, but find it a little clumsy there. For my iPhone, I use Sky Safari 3+. It is very good and they keep updating it, making it better. It has more data in it than most amateurs would need, but I found it helpful when someone at a public star party plays "stump the dummy" with me and asks a question that I either don't know the answer to or don't care. Like "How far is Mars from us right now?" or "How long does it take light to reach us from that star right there?" I then look it up and show it to them. It costs $16, but I've found it worth every penny.

Best to you,

#6 CelestronDaddy

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Posted 02 January 2013 - 06:01 PM

Thanks folks :bow: Some of the freeware I hadn't seen! I was looking for a general purpose program that would help me plan out an observing session and give me an idea of what might be a potential object... these being based upon my scope and eyepiece data and local area factors such as light pollution and atmospheric conditions. I downloaded trial versions (no charge) of Sky Tools 3 (beginner version) and Deep Sky Planner 6. I'm impressed with the potential of both and even the trial versions may suit my needs. Give them a look as they seem versatile and usable. Of course some of the freeware software mentioned may be similar. I use Stellarium but it doesn't do what these two will do to my knowledge. Cloudy skies prevail and I was only able to use the 6SE one time so I'm anxious to get to it, g.... You are a fine bunch of folks! Thanks, Tony

#7 Skip

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Posted 03 January 2013 - 11:58 AM

Hi Tony,

I use Stellarium but it doesn't do what these two will do to my knowledge.



Um, this baffles me a bit. What do you want Stellarium to do that it won't do? I find Stellarium excellent for pre-observing session planning.

BTW, I'm aware that there are quite a few excellent freeware programs out there and many swear by them. I've just found that Stellarium fills all my needs. YMMV. :grin:

#8 CelestronDaddy

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Posted 03 January 2013 - 03:20 PM

Skip - Stellarium, at least to my knowledge, is a very good program but doesn't pull up data based on entered scope and eyepiece data and tell you based upon atmospheric data what type of objects are available and at what times. It seems to be more of a planetarium program to me. You can print all types of charts and observation schedules on the two programs I mentioned. They are capable of quite a lot more based on a cursory reading of documentation and playing with the programs. Tony

#9 CelestronDaddy

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Posted 05 January 2013 - 03:11 PM

Hi Tony,

I use Stellarium but it doesn't do what these two will do to my knowledge.



Um, this baffles me a bit. What do you want Stellarium to do that it won't do? I find Stellarium excellent for pre-observing session planning.

BTW, I'm aware that there are quite a few excellent freeware programs out there and many swear by them. I've just found that Stellarium fills all my needs. YMMV. :grin:

Skip, I wasn't aware of the plugins :foreheadslap: in Stellarium. I've been playing around with it but I seem to be having trouble with the "Alt-A" popping up the correct window. Anyway the plugins add some nice features to this program. I think SkyTools 3 may be more what I'm looking for but I need to use them a little more to make sure. Thanks, Tony

#10 Maverick199

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Posted 06 January 2013 - 02:46 AM

My children use Sky Safari pro which is great on both the iPad and my iPhone. Works great on-field.

#11 Peter9

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Posted 06 January 2013 - 08:00 AM

Same here Haseeb. Sky Safari looks great on the iPad. A wonderful aid when observing.

Regards. Peter

#12 Midnight Dan

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Posted 06 January 2013 - 10:20 AM

Hi CelestronDaddy:

Coming in late to this thread, but it sounds like you're looking for planning software. From the web, you can try www.tonightssky.com. It lets you pick you level of target difficulty, and provides a list of targets for your time/location. Another site, www.calsky.com, provides more functionality including sending you email alerts when certain events happen like eclipses, meteor showers, etc.

For an application that runs on a Mac or Windows, I use AstroPlanner, http://www.astroplanner.net There's a free version, but $45 for the full version is still pretty cheap for what it does. It lets you search through multiple catalogs with many millions of objects, based on criteria like rise time, transit time, magnitude, size, etc. It provides charts of alt/az vs time, along with twilight times, moon position, etc. You can limit the results to objects that are visible during a time window of your choice, show previews with your particular scope/eyepiece/barlow/FR/imager, and produce an all-sky chart with your selected targets highlighted. And if you like, you can use it's logging feature to record your observation notes. It's an awesome package!

Some of the iPhone/iPad apps give a slight "nod" to planning, but most are heavy on the "planetarium" features. For example, SkySafari will let you select an object and add it to a "favorites" list, but that's about it. There's no sophisticated search capability like you'll find in Astroplanner.

-Dan

#13 CelestronDaddy

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Posted 06 January 2013 - 12:47 PM

My children use Sky Safari pro which is great on both the iPad and my iPhone. Works great on-field.


I haven't used Sky Safari but I think my android app from S&T uses it or partly does. I need to get a laptop as my eyes don't allow for looking closely at my smartphone screen for much these days :lol: I'll check it out though. Thanks.. Tony

#14 CelestronDaddy

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Posted 06 January 2013 - 12:53 PM

Dan... Thanks and yes I'm looking more for planning software as compared to a planetarium type program. The two I've looked at are good but the downloads are the trial version and most of the features will not function. Sky Tools 3 and Deep Sky Planner 6 are the two I read up on. I'll check out the websites you mentioned though and the AstroPlanner program. Thanks again... Tony

#15 Peter9

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Posted 06 January 2013 - 02:43 PM

Hi CelestronDaddy:

Some of the iPhone/iPad apps give a slight "nod" to planning, but most are heavy on the "planetarium" features. For example, SkySafari will let you select an object and add it to a "favorites" list, but that's about it. There's no sophisticated search capability like you'll find in Astroplanner.

-Dan


I think you do Sky Safari a great dis-service Dan. I now use it to plan my nights observing. Using my ipad, I can make up a list of the targets I wish to view, arrange them in any order I wish, and contrary to what you say, I find the search option very comprehensive. I can search Planets, Moons, Asteroids, Comets, Satellites, Named Stars, Brightest Stars, Nearest Stars, Double Stars, Deep Sky Objects, Messier Objects, Caldwell Objects, Constellations, and Astrisms. I can filter them so that only the ones that my scope is able to see magnitude wise are included, then add the ones I want to the list.
I can use the planetarium to look at the area of sky I am observing and turn things such as Messier object, deep sky objects, double stars, comets etc, on and off as I choose. I can get info on any object I choose at the touch of the screen and in most cases, a picture of the object of my choice.

This is not ment to demean the planning programs, many of which are invaluable to those who use them. I used Calsky for many years and think it is an excelent tool for planning ones night.
No, it is a defence of Sky Safari. :waytogo: :grin:

Regards. Peter.

#16 CelestronDaddy

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Posted 06 January 2013 - 03:05 PM

Hi Peter - I went to the SkySafari website and did a little reading. I could be wrong but I didn't see a version for a Windows based PC / laptop or Nook Tablet. It looks like I could download to my android smartphone but I'd have a hard time using it on the phone without my reading glasses! sounds like it works well for you. Thanks for the info... Tony

#17 Midnight Dan

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Posted 06 January 2013 - 10:56 PM

it is a defence of Sky Safari.
Regards. Peter.


Hi Peter:

Sorry, I didn't mean to demean SkySafari at all. :grin: I use it all the time, it's much more user-friendly than Astroplanner, and I love it! But my main use of it tends to be out in the field because it is easy to carry along with me in my phone. There are certainly ways to use SkySafari as a planning app. But since I started using Astroplanner first, and got used to its advanced capabilities, I guess SkySafari just doesn't meet my needs for that particular purpose.

I will typically do a search in Astroplanner with something like the following parameters:

Catalogs to search:
- Astroplanner DSO catalog
- Caldwell catalog
- Messier catalog
- SAC Double Star Catalog
- NGC Catalog
- (there are dozens of catalogs to choose from for a search)

Magnitude range: -5 to 10.0 (depending on how much LP there is for the night)
Size range: I set this depending on the scope I'm using for imaging, or the FOV limitations for visual
Surface Brightness: 0 to 23 (depending on how much LP there is for the night)
Visibility limit: 25° to 90° azimuth
Visibility times: 8pm to 12pm
Types: Galaxy, Globular Cluster, Double Star, Planetary Nebula (depending on what targets I'm interested in for the night.
Include site horizon: this uses a previously mapped site horizon for my viewing location that included blocking items like trees or buildings.

Here's a screen shot of the search screen, with many more parameters available than the ones I use:
Posted Image

Here's a sample of some search results (the list is a lot longer) showing all the associated data that lets you decide on which ones you want to add to your plan for the night:
Posted Image

And when you've added them to your plan, you can generate an all sky view that shows the slew path for all of the selected targets. You can then rearrange the order of the targets to minimize the slew path, and you can use Astroplanner to control the scope as well. The green rim around the edge is the area I've designated as too low in altitude.
Posted Image

When looking at individual objects, you get graphics at the top that shows the sky position data for the current night, but you also get long term planning information. For example, the 1st graphic above the list of objects shows that M15 will be dropping low in the sky early and may not be the greatest target for later in the night. But the 2nd graphic shows that if I really want to plan for a good view of M15, the September-October time frame would be good.
Posted Image

There's nothing that matches these kinds of capability in SkySafari. And there's a ton more features in Astronplanner that I'm not showing ... just focusing on the searching and resulting data. Of course, SkySafari excels over Astroplanner in many ways as well. To me, the two compliment one another. But for planning, ahead of my observing session, I use Astroplanner. For planetarium features and in-the-field use, it's SkySafari.

-Dan

#18 Peter9

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Posted 07 January 2013 - 05:38 AM

Hi Dan,

Astroplanner sure looks like a great piece of software. I find Calsky, which you put me on to, also has lots of parameters to delve into which served me well in the passed, amd I am sure will do so in the future. I never go as deep as you enjoy doing, but thats the beauty of this hobby, we are all able to do the things that increase our own enjoyment, without it affecting others. (being out there, alone, at night, often in the freezing cold.) :coldday: :rofl5:

Thanks for in insight and pics of Astroplanner Dan.

Regards. Peter.

#19 pjglad

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Posted 07 January 2013 - 12:38 PM

I cannot find the AstroPlanner DSO catalog in the AstroPlanner Catalogue Manager?

#20 CelestronDaddy

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Posted 08 January 2013 - 10:10 PM

Dan - Thanks for the info on AstroPlanner. I checked it out and for $45 it looked pretty good so I downloaded V2. Looks similar in a way to SkyTools 3 but the price was better. Thanks for letting me know about it... :grin: Tony

#21 CelestronDaddy

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Posted 09 January 2013 - 08:16 AM

I cannot find the AstroPlanner DSO catalog in the AstroPlanner Catalogue Manager?

I see it listed on the website in the list of available catalogues but Im not sure why its not in the AP Catalogue manager.... Tony

#22 Midnight Dan

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Posted 09 January 2013 - 09:28 AM

Interesting. When I posted above, I was looking at a computer with an older release of Astroplanner. On the computer I'm using now, I have a newer release and I don't see that catalog either.

I wonder if it's been removed because it's redundant? I think originally it was a selection of objects from other catalogs rolled in just one so that if you wanted to minimize local storage of catalogs but still have access to the most popular targets, you could just use the one catalog. But maybe Paul (the author) decided it was no longer needed.

-Dan

#23 CelestronDaddy

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Posted 09 January 2013 - 01:15 PM

Dan - you could be right in that it was redundant. Especially with all the available catalogues! This looks like it will be a useful planning program. Tony

#24 azure1961p

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Posted 11 January 2013 - 03:03 PM

Hi Peter - I went to the SkySafari website and did a little reading. I could be wrong but I didn't see a version for a Windows based PC / laptop or Nook Tablet. It looks like I could download to my android smartphone but I'd have a hard time using it on the phone without my reading glasses! sounds like it works well for you. Thanks for the info... Tony


Greetings Tony, I've found SKYSAFARI both plus and pro are phenomenal
Resources. The catch is so I've found, that while the touch screen on apple products , iPod, iPhone (even from years ago) is far and away better than the lousy performance of androids touch screen technology. Oh man I've tapped on so many stars and objects and at least half the time or more, the android doesn't respond. The apple product immediately highlights it even if its a mag 17 star.

I will never ever ever own another android again.

Never.

Pete

#25 CelestronDaddy

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Posted 11 January 2013 - 04:20 PM

Unfortunately I don't have any apple products and probably will not in the foreseeable future since they are not available with my service provider. My daughter just moved to the newest iPhone and she said she'd never use an android again too! I'm old school and only recently got a smart phone :lol: I have and use the old TI SR10 I had from HS and a couple of old HP RPN calculators from the 80's. I even still have my Picket slide rule. Those were the days, g... Tony






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