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Celestron StarSense

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#76 HowardK

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Posted 14 March 2013 - 03:43 PM

I'm way more interested in the pointing model feature than the alignment feature.


How does the pointing model feature differ from the alignment feature?

#77 palmer570

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Posted 14 March 2013 - 06:08 PM

Crossing my fingers that the delay is due to many people wanting to also use it as a autoguider and Celestron may have a solution to do so.

Guess I'll be waiting to see what happens in July. :question:

#78 nine44

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Posted 14 March 2013 - 06:36 PM

After that, gotos are really quite good (about a 3 minute automated process). StarSense does NOT track, however--at least not in the skyprodigy incarnation.
...
I recognize that many don't see the need for this tech--but I have found that it further decreases the energy barrier to getting out and observing. It takes 3 min to start slewing to objects--and if clouds roll in, I don't feel like I have


Make sure tracking is no Disabled in the menu (you can select Sidereal, Lunar, Solar, or Disabled). The mount will track once aligned.

You're spot on with your conclusion, the scope just makes the decision to bring out the scope so much easier (yes, regular SLT/SE/CPC/etc. alignment for a quick look should only take but a couple of minutes) - just the other day when I was back late evening from an observing session on the outskirts of town, I don't think I was done yet with observing, but wasn't up to pulling out the gear from the car to setup all over again - I took a couple of minutes to bring the SkyProdigy from inside the house to the backyard and fired it up; in the meantime I unloaded the other astro gear from the car into storage. 15min later when my other stuff is put away, I stepped into my backyard and the SkyProdigy was there waiting for me to get my last fix for the night (granted, sky conditions was bad compared to where I just came from).

My apologies--the Sky Prodigy DOES track (quite well). It does NOT autoguide. Sorry for the confusion!!

#79 Ava

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Posted 16 March 2013 - 01:51 PM

Now it seems to be gone from Celestrons web site... :(

#80 Stew57

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Posted 16 March 2013 - 02:04 PM

Still at this location;
http://www.celestron...-accessory.html

#81 Ain Soph Aur

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Posted 16 March 2013 - 02:07 PM

Hopefully not! I am planning on buying two if StarSense gets good CN feedback. I have a CGEM DX and a 8SE and being able to set both up, fire up StarSense and walk back a few minutes later to two aligned mounts is awesome. If this works out, it could motivate me to pick up a VX mount also.

Pricey yes, but this is my hobby and if it works as reported then I will opt in.

#82 Ava

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Posted 16 March 2013 - 03:57 PM

Still at this location;
http://www.celestron...-accessory.html


Hmm, strange, that link doesn't work for me, it redirects to the front page.

#83 HowardK

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Posted 16 March 2013 - 06:48 PM

Link goes straight to C's home page.

Anyone know where to find starsense on the website for Celestron?

#84 wolfman_4_ever

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Posted 16 March 2013 - 07:16 PM

That link works for me just fine..

#85 wolfman_4_ever

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Posted 16 March 2013 - 07:18 PM

I'm way more interested in the pointing model feature than the alignment feature.


How does the pointing model feature differ from the alignment feature?


2+4 is kinda a pointing model. A pointing model keeps track of where stars and objects are in the sky. Bisque pointing model takes flex, refraction, etc into consideration. I hope the star sense does too.

It would be more like a 200+ star calibration.

#86 cn register 5

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Posted 17 March 2013 - 04:53 AM

I think we need to manage expectations a little here.

AIUI the StarSense/SkyProdigy gets three positions by pointing in three directions, acquiring an image and plate solving it. That give three positions as Ra and Dec and the rotation of the image. It will give a good alignment with corrections for the major mount errors such as Ra and Dec offset, polar align error and cone error.

Corrections that can be calculated, such as refraction and precession can be allowed for.

But it's not a 200 star pointing model, there's no way that 3 positions can be turned into 200.

Chris

#87 CharlesW

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Posted 17 March 2013 - 09:14 AM

The price of gadgets aside, you have to admit that this is a great time for amateur astronomy. If Meade's LX-850 works, you can bet that Celestron will begin to offer something similar at the 2014 NEAF that will autoguide.

#88 wolfman_4_ever

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Posted 17 March 2013 - 04:54 PM

I have heard, that in a future release, it will work with the precise goto function of the Nexstar hand controller.

#89 Raginar

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Posted 17 March 2013 - 06:51 PM

Dave,

Now, that would be really cool. My biggest complaint about it is that I want something that would plate solve for me. I can align my mount just fine; I need better accuracy.

#90 wolfman_4_ever

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Posted 17 March 2013 - 11:30 PM

Yes, hardware plate solving would be awesome. It will just be a firmware upgrade.

It has about 2 megs for the embedded microcontroller. pretty big Room for improvements.

#91 Raginar

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Posted 18 March 2013 - 09:31 AM

Well, 2 mb isn't enough to get a catalog into it. It'd be cool if it was expandable via SD card or something.

#92 artcarter

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Posted 18 March 2013 - 01:24 PM

Yes, hardware plate solving would be awesome.



Ok. What is plate solving?

#93 psu_13

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Posted 18 March 2013 - 01:44 PM

Plate solving is taking a picture of a star field and computing the position of the picture in RA/DEC by comparing the position of the stars in the picture to a known catalog.

Typically you need to have some location and scale information that gets you relatively close to the actual location. But there are systems that also do the matching blind.

#94 wcstarguy

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Posted 18 March 2013 - 01:56 PM

I don't know the technical details of the StarSense but just received one of the SkyProdigy mounts. I read everything I could find on the mount before buying (got a great deal from Adorama, $229 new) and found the following post:

The SkyProdigy telescopes are toys with autoguiding piggybacked onto them. They're the same kind of telescopes you'd find at Costco or WalMart.

The LSs are serious SCs. There's really no comparison.

--------------------
8" LX90-GPS
NexStar 5SE
ETX125
>UNQUOTE

Nothing could be further from fact, WRT Sky Prodigy. Cloudy Nights prides itself on objectivity - before you categorically snob a telescope, please consider owning or at least operating one for a spell to give it a fair shake. The staff here obtained two early on, to study the guide algorithm. Stand by for long-winded response <wink>....
Been an ATM/AA for about 44 years, scratch-built optics, mounts, gotos and robotic scopes and their electronics and systems. Bought the same, too. Eventually became a professional astronomer and observatory director in that time. I say that because, I have not only been involved with buying, making and operating goto and upper end avocational telescopes for many years, I am quite familiar with the astrometric methods used in a Sky Prodigy that we use in large professional instrumentation in the $ten-figure class. So I think I can speak with some accuracy on how the little Prodigy's work.
Contrary to the innuendo, this kind of sky alignment algorithm is not used in dimestore telescopes, but is a technique used in the orientation and navigation of billion dollar spaceborne intelligence systems, strategic aircraft, and special shipboard systems. That "ACN and ST" (Automated celnav & star-tracker) field is far, far more advanced than anything seen here on CN; and while the little Sky Prodigy is not so fancy either, its pointing heritage certainly does not put it anywhere near "dimestore" class. Having used one at length, I can say it does not deserve that slight.
While Sky Prodigy certainly is aimed at novices, that alone is important to an amateur astronomer -- most of whom want to perpetuate the hobby. I get countless PR appeals from newbies that they cannot align the telescope to then "goto", and along those lines, I am sure Celestron wanted to answer that key issue for novices. You can't maintain an avocation's people-base by intimidating entrants. But Sky Prodigy still is useful for more than just the rote beginner as we see it (and no we were not paid by Celestron LOL).
When my staff got ours a year ago to actually see how Celestron's code aligned the instrument the turned out surprisingly easy for us to use (our pro's know the night sky BTW) and reinvigorated an aesthetic appreciation for the sky. Like I said, we were comparing SP to advanced alignment systems -- specifically to understand the relationship of the StarSense algorithm to angles-only Kalman filtered algorithms . There even, Celestron did a quite good job -- especially for the price. We may look at "Autoalign" on Meades next, but they are really not in the same alignment league, relying on GPS, time of day, expected positions, etc, not star fields alone. Last year's news, Meade and Celestron (with somewhat similar SkyAlign, have tested those), can go arm-wrestle about who is on who's turf there; we wanted to focus on how the SP did its alignment.
We've tested a Sky Prodigy for a year... and it is no dimestore telescope. While optomechanically similar to its Nexstar brethren, and at least equal to that line of optics, the mount at or better than an SLT's beefiness, and it is much much easier to operate. Every time I could walk up and goto 30 objects in sequence across 2 pi-steradians -- and find them well centered, after every starsense alignment. I know the night sky well, but it sure is impressive to set the unit out, and go inside for a coffee, come out and watch it finish self location, then present itself for tracking. The 130 would be easy to backpack as well; did that. Optical collimation remains quite solid both using ole Techtron tools, and also cross checking in our optics lab on a Zygo interferometer-- after a year being roughly used.
BTW people here have hip-shot that the instrument is basically a" Nexstar with autoguiding piggybacked onto them". This is also false and very misleading; sounds like someone got confused with Meade's Starlock system.... Go read up on how the Sky Prodigy operates (and some nice videos and Youtubes out there too). I don't believe it's the best principle instrument for an advanced amateur... any more than I would put an advanced amateur on a robotic liquid helium cooled IR 2-meter with an echelle at the naysmith, a professional's tool... BUT, SP would be a great, quality beginner telescope to bridge a lack of sky knowledge and get an exhuberant youngster excited to keep looking at he sky. It's a great knockabout quickie scope too, can throw in the car or the pack (sort of) for some desert fun.
In fact it would come from a line more capable, and is IMO better than than the LS. And as an aside, I'd be careful about how one uses the term "serious SC" as amongst amateur telescopes, as _very few_ currently marketed SC's are indeed "serious" telescopes, from an expert point of view, either - Point being -- it's *all* a *point of view* - and such subjectivity should be avoided when fairly evaluating an instrument... SP is as optomechanically decent as most all other small Celestrons.
Finally, I know some AA's disdain making alignment and learning the sky 'too easy', as abjuring some rite of passage. To them I'd say don't dismiss this novel and simpler method for aligning a telescope, as some short circuit as to learning the sky, anymore than oldsters of yesteryear used to dismiss a 4 function calulator as cheating vs. a slide rule... I've actually seen little kids at open houses marvel at the auto-alignment, then start to spatially grasp the sky as the SP marched from object to object. It is the future, and hopefully the method will spread into upper end amateur instrumentation, like GOTO once did.
So, the technology under the Sky Prodigy's hood is actually advanced, and not dimestore-trivial, and so instead makes the alignment, goto and operation all the simpler -- time to pay attention to other things more important. Like your smartphone made life simpler (allegedly LOL). If you are satisfied with Nexstar and CG quality, the Prodigy easily equals or betters that, but is just alot easier to use. If you like GOTO this is the next step. Try one; I will probably buy my own 6" variant in fact, after our staff experience with the littler SP's (I do wish Celestron sold just the Starsence mount, sans OTA; I have a nice 6" R-C that would be just great riding on a Sky Prodigy arm!). FWIW.... again sorry so long - I just did not want a dimestore innuendo have people miss what a different experience for our staff the little SP's provided. Your mileage may vary.

. link to complete thread Sounds like the technology involved does something distantly related to "plate solving". Just speculating....WC

#95 wcstarguy

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Posted 18 March 2013 - 02:07 PM

Sorry about the long text quote from the other thread....there are some other interesting observations about the SkyProdigy (StarSense technology) in the same thread linked above, although the discussion was comparing a couple of different mounts and scopes...WC

#96 darbyvet

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Posted 18 March 2013 - 02:24 PM

FWIW my son is studying aerospace engineering and he told me the cameras used on satellites to align them via plates solves start at about $100,000.

#97 Whichwayisnorth

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Posted 18 March 2013 - 02:35 PM

With a wide field camera and a known focal length, which the Starsense has, I think doing a plate solve by matching up a hand full of stars in a given area of the sky isn't that difficult. We don't need to plate solve a thousand stars. Three or four brightest in its field of view would be acceptable I think. This is just speculation of course. The technology looks at th FoV and tries to center the brightest star at the position it "believes" it should find it. Then it centers on that star and marks/stores that coordinate. So why not process three stars in the FoV or five or ten? I guess it really doesn't matter too much. 2+4 is already pretty accurate. Having a device that does it automatically is really neat. That is all I ask for and all I require it to do. Anything else is just icing.

#98 Raginar

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Posted 18 March 2013 - 09:08 PM

I can do it really easy with my guider and a finder-scope, I'm pretty sure the sky sense can figure it out.

Maybe not in this iteration, but some day.

#99 wolfman_4_ever

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Posted 18 March 2013 - 09:54 PM

Well, 2 mb isn't enough to get a catalog into it. It'd be cool if it was expandable via SD card or something.


It depends on the catalog. It holds the current 40,000 nexstar catalog database and the plate solve database with room to spare.. ;)

#100 wcstarguy

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Posted 18 March 2013 - 10:18 PM

There was some discussion of how many stars the mount uses for alignment, in my light polluted (some skyglow, just outside of Branson, MO and neighbors yard lights) backyard using the manual alignment method (point at three unblocked areas of sky and let each area calculate) the hand control has been saying it finds anywhere from 30 to 100 usable stars. This is when visually I can see very few stars. Seems to work very well. Also, you can adjust it for the brightness of your sky...it can be overwhelmed if you go to a dark site but you just do the adj....This is using a tiny C90 mak scope....






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