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DSO Planner (Android astronomy app)

dso observing planetarium software
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#1 halx

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Posted 20 August 2014 - 03:43 PM

Dear colleagues! Let me introduce you the new advanced astronomy app posted to the Google Android market today - the Deep Sky Observations Planner. Please, welcome the new kid on the block!

 

logo.png

 

 

Almost three years ago, together with a friend of mine, we have decided to employ our Android programming skills on a spare time and make a dedicated and highly pliable hand-held tool to support our long term passion - the Deep Sky Objects visual observing... After 2 years of intense field use and gradual home polishing that Android based app became so efficient for the task and joyful to use that we have decided to improve the effort and generalize our ideas... And finally, now we are ready to share our invention with the world!

 

We believe the resulting application is extremely simple to understand and really easy to use for planning the night and for the sky navigation right at the telescope's eyepiece, even single handed, or while resting in the chair between observing sessions. Yet it is so powerful and flexible, that you can plan your entire Deep Sky observing night while dark-adapting in the dusk, and you can alter your plans on the fly any time in between! And all of that without taking out the joy of manually hopping with your telescope between stars if you so wish!

 

No matter how complex your observing program usually is, the DSO Planner can be adapted almost to anything you might have in mind for the night, thanks to the infinitely extendable DSO databases pool, which you can manage and build yourself exactly to your liking, share both ways with other users of the app, and surely by downloading them online (conversion might be required), and to the specialized objects filtering wizard and the simplified database request language as well.

 

And that's just the tip of the iceberg! What would you say about totally custom databases with any information you want to have at hands? Fast switchable multiple observing lists? Databases for your telescopes and eyepieces? Offline images for all NGC/IC (from the famous http://www.ngcicproject.org project)? Downloadable and manageable right on the star chart DSS images? DSO contours? Integrated voice and text notes database for each object? Social networks data and observation lists sharing, including right on Cloudy Nights? Data importing and exporting? Marked objects batch operations? Advanced Telrad tool? A blindly operated astro-flashlight? Integrated smart launcher for third party astronomy applications with shared clipboard? Several interface skins and fine-tunable colors for every element of the star chart? Three gyro-compass modes? User horizon line, editable right on the phone? Temporary objects? Fast object filtering presets? And a whole lot of application behavior settings, which you can tune up to your liking, making the app really your own tool?

 

DSO Planner app is still in the non stop development, we have a lot of amazing ideas still waiting implementation and the passion to make this tool perfect over time! And we may definitely consider implementing your own ideas as well, especially if they have a social vector!

 

We are still working on a decent English user manual for the app (both of us aren't native English speakers), so don't judge it too hard yet: http://www.dsoplanner.com We don't yet have a dedicated users support web site either. That's why I'm hoping to be able provide some direct and overall guidance and help for the users right in this topic for now, or you can use our team's joint e-mail address: dsoplanner@outlook.com for any questions. The integrated bug tracking facility of the app will help you to report any issues on your particular Android device directly to us with a tap of a button.

The light/demo version of DSO Planner (with the reduced capacity stars databases and some limitations) is in the working, and will be available soon.

 

All the Best,
Alex


Edited by halx, 20 August 2014 - 06:19 PM.


#2 halx

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Posted 27 August 2014 - 05:34 PM

Good news!
Addressing the highly interested, but undecided users' suggestion, we have just released the completely free demo version of DSO Planner, so you can get a hold on it's primary functionality and test its overall look and feel first prior to deciding if it is for you. That's a more fair option compared to just 15 minutes to try offered by Google for the paid version. The demo version is already available on Google Play at:

 

https://play.google.....dsoplannerfree

 

The stars database of this demo is limited to the Yale Bright Stars Catalog (down to 6.5m). The DSO database has only 220 Brightest objects and not expandable in this version. Some of the features are blocked in menus, or may limit the number of data entries you can operate with (see the app's description on Google Play for more details).

We also receiving opinions that the current stars database (USNO UCAC4) is too huge for basic observations with smaller instruments, and also that might be a problem for cheaper Android devices with smaller internal memory available. So, we have decided to make a much smaller footprint version as well. I'll keep you posted on that project's progress.

 

Go ahead, give it a shot now! It's free!


Edited by halx, 27 August 2014 - 06:03 PM.


#3 halx

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Posted 23 September 2014 - 12:25 PM

Thank you, everybody for the rich and grateful feedback on the app's launch!
 

Following your desires and suggestions, we have made several significant additions to the DSO Planner PRO features and the user interface!

 

What's new:

  1. New additional interactive target objects selection from the Star Chart View.

    You can define specific objects filtering rules directly from the Star Chart View using its main menu options. It is possible to turn on and off any of the database layers (NgcIc, UGC, PGC) on the fly, and set the low magnitude limit for each of them, as well as for each of the zoom levels (FOVs) individually. You could also filter NgcIC layer by object types right from the Star Chart View if you want to. 

    You could use the original database filtering mode (DSO Selection View) independently from the new one or combine their results, manipulating the "Object Layers" switch in the settings, which can disable or enable the new object filtering feature functionality as necessary for the task (to disable the original database filtering mode - just wipe the current Observation List, or switch it to an empty one).
     
  2. New stars magnitude limit settings for each zoom level and for each of the objects layer (Yale, Tycho-2, UCAC4, NgcIc, UGC, PGC) as a separate setting. You can manually define finest stars and objects shown on the Chart individually, overriding the default automatic mag.limiter.
     
  3. "Compass Mode" improvements. There are 3 real time modes are available now:

    Compass - tracks device movements and adjust the Star Chart center accordingly (no pitch tracking).

    Compass+Level - adds pitch tracking, so the virtual horizon of the chart is always parallel to the real one.

    Level - Only the pitch is tracked. Useful for advanced use of the Telrad overlay and for the easier eyepiece view matching.
     
  4. The quick Custom User Horizon line definition through a plain text file of Alt/Az pairs (one row per horizon's feature point on the sky) was added. You need to define only the corners, the rest of the horizon's line points on the sky will be interpolated automatically.
     
  5. New removable overlay for the Equatorial coordinates grid with RA/DEC labels was added.
     
  6. New removable labels layer for DSOs and bright stars added.
     
  7. New menu options to hide all of the Star Chart's elements below the horizon line, in both user- and mathematical horizon settings.
     
  8. Improved nebula contours hiding algorithm to show most famous nebulae at any zoom level (FOV).
     
  9. The Object's Information (Details) View was rearranged for clarity and compactness.
     
  10. The Star Chart's Settings view had been rearranged to accommodate new features.

I love these new additions!

The updated DSO Planner Free Demo version is on the way as well.


Edited by halx, 23 September 2014 - 02:25 PM.


#4 halx

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Posted 25 September 2014 - 12:26 PM

Update

The free version of DSO Planner, with all of the improvements above, is available at Google Paly: 
https://play.google....annerfree&hl=en



#5 halx

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Posted 27 October 2014 - 11:34 AM

The new release of the DSO Planner app is here!

We have implemented all of the features you have requested for the past month. Enjoy!

 

This update includes:

  • DSO Selection database list could be sorted by any column (just touch its header).
  • Choosing database in DSO Selection was grouped with the rest of the selection controls right under the Select button.
  • The Basic Search algorithm in DSO Selection list now adjusts the search criteria set to the specific database chosen.
  • The Stop button was added to the DSO Selection search for manual cancellation of too extensive searches.
  • The Move Record option was added to the Observation List (allows manual changing of the objects order on the list).
  • Real Time Mode settings were improved and rearranged.
  • New Real Time Mode option was added, which will suppress automatic screen update for high zoom levels.
  • Selected object's magnitude value added to the Star Chart's object info panel (bottom left corner).

 

And all of that in multiple flavors now!

 

We have decided to provide two lighter versions of the app for less demanding folks with smaller telescopes.

 

DSO Planner Basic

This is the less expensive version for beginner DSO observers. It comes equipped with Yale bright star catalog (9 000 stars down to 6.5 magnitude), 600,000 stars down to 10.7m from Tycho-2 catalog, 3100 brightest objects from NGCIC catalog, observable comets (around 700), and 500 brightest minor planets. Also, the Basic Edition has all of the custom objects database functionality/features stripped off, compared to the Pro version.

 

DSO Planner Plus

This version has no functionality limitations compared to the Pro. But equipped with smaller UCAC4 catalog (15.4 millions of stars compared to 113 millions stars in the Pro Edition) and limited PGC catalog as well (147,000 galaxies compared to 750,000 galaxies in the Pro Edition).


Edited by halx, 27 October 2014 - 12:00 PM.

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#6 grandpastar

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Posted 06 December 2014 - 11:49 AM

I just got the DSO Planner Pro version yesterday.  :waytogo: So far I'm very impressed with it. I like good old fashioned star hopping and this is tailor made for that. With the huge data base you can find anything your scope can see.  :refractor: 


Edited by grandpastar, 06 December 2014 - 11:51 AM.


#7 lvv1227

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Posted 08 December 2014 - 02:12 AM

New features will be coming soon - designations in other catalogs, cross reference between databases, reorganised dso selection, new databases, extended PGC layer and more!


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#8 sealcove

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Posted 02 January 2015 - 02:21 PM

Any plans for an IOS version?



#9 lvv1227

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Posted 02 January 2015 - 02:27 PM

No plans for now, unfortunately.



#10 sealcove

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Posted 02 January 2015 - 06:21 PM

Thanks.  I actually have an Android phone and my next tablet will almost certainly be Android as well, but for not it is an Ipad  I will test it out on the phone.



#11 wboeck

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Posted 03 January 2015 - 10:41 AM

Can you add a feature in there that shows when we have completely dark skies for planning purposes? Skytools has this as part of their PC software. There are no android apps that do this. DSO Pro on IOS is the closest that performs this function.



#12 lvv1227

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Posted 03 January 2015 - 10:45 AM

Sure. At the moment you could use Tools/DSO Twilight and look at the time of astronomical night in the morning and evening, moon rise/setting and its phase



#13 halx

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Posted 03 January 2015 - 09:33 PM

...moreover, the standard time selection dialog panel of DSO Planner have a special button to set the time to the Astronomical Twilight begin and/or end for the night selected in just one tap. It's calculated automatically for you on the fly.



#14 halx

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Posted 03 January 2015 - 11:29 PM

By the way, wboeck. If you care to describe in details (with explanation of exact use cases) the ideal "Dark Skies" feature, which you would like to have at hands for planning, - you could have exactly what you need much sooner.


Edited by halx, 03 January 2015 - 11:32 PM.


#15 wboeck

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Posted 07 January 2015 - 07:43 AM

I am interested in having a hour by hour listing in a graph howing when the sky is completely dark void of the moon. It would be great to be able to quickly select different days of the month for determining when to observe or image. 



#16 Kotarak

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Posted 22 March 2015 - 08:58 PM

The new release of the DSO Planner app is here!

We have implemented all of the features you have requested for the past month. Enjoy!

 

This update includes:

  • DSO Selection database list could be sorted by any column (just touch its header).
  • Choosing database in DSO Selection was grouped with the rest of the selection controls right under the Select button.
  • The Basic Search algorithm in DSO Selection list now adjusts the search criteria set to the specific database chosen.
  • The Stop button was added to the DSO Selection search for manual cancellation of too extensive searches.
  • The Move Record option was added to the Observation List (allows manual changing of the objects order on the list).
  • Real Time Mode settings were improved and rearranged.
  • New Real Time Mode option was added, which will suppress automatic screen update for high zoom levels.
  • Selected object's magnitude value added to the Star Chart's object info panel (bottom left corner).

 

And all of that in multiple flavors now!

 

We have decided to provide two lighter versions of the app for less demanding folks with smaller telescopes.

 

DSO Planner Basic

This is the less expensive version for beginner DSO observers. It comes equipped with Yale bright star catalog (9 000 stars down to 6.5 magnitude), 600,000 stars down to 10.7m from Tycho-2 catalog, 3100 brightest objects from NGCIC catalog, observable comets (around 700), and 500 brightest minor planets. Also, the Basic Edition has all of the custom objects database functionality/features stripped off, compared to the Pro version.

 

DSO Planner Plus

This version has no functionality limitations compared to the Pro. But equipped with smaller UCAC4 catalog (15.4 millions of stars compared to 113 millions stars in the Pro Edition) and limited PGC catalog as well (147,000 galaxies compared to 750,000 galaxies in the Pro Edition).

I purchased the DSO Planner Plus version and it is great!  Wondering if there is an upgrade path from Plus to the Pro version?



#17 lvv1227

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Posted 23 March 2015 - 12:16 AM

Unfortunately not. Each version is a separate app.



#18 halx

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Posted 23 March 2015 - 11:14 AM

That's right. The Google Play purchasing system is way too simplistic to support that. So, the general recommendation would be to always try the free version first and then decide which paid version is sufficient for you tasks and compatible with your Android device capabilities (primarily - the internal card size now).

By the way, the new major version is coming with HUGE amount of cool updates! Stay tuned!



#19 Kotarak

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Posted 08 April 2015 - 10:46 AM

That's right. The Google Play purchasing system is way too simplistic to support that. So, the general recommendation would be to always try the free version first and then decide which paid version is sufficient for you tasks and compatible with your Android device capabilities (primarily - the internal card size now).

By the way, the new major version is coming with HUGE amount of cool updates! Stay tuned!

Hi Alex,

 

just curious, when approximately we should expect the new release?



#20 halx

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Posted 08 April 2015 - 02:09 PM

It's in the testing and Q&A as we speak. So, to the end of April - for sure, but most likely - the next week.



#21 halx

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Posted 09 April 2015 - 03:59 PM

Comrades, rejoice!
The massive free update of DSO Planner is almost here.
I'm glad to share brand new features of the Pro (and in part Plus-) version with you.
Many of them were made in reply to your valuable feedback. Thank you everyone!

(Below OL - stands for Observation List, AI - Artificial Intelligence)

Databases and Lists

  • PGC Layer for Pro version now includes 1.6 mn galaxies from HyperLeda database!
  • New huge database of objects’ cross-match names (from other catalogs) for searching objects by less common names in DSO databases.
  • Database of brightest double stars.
  • New SAC (Saguaro Astronomy Club) database.
  • HCG — Hickson Compact Group catalogue.
  • SH2 - Catalogue of HII regions.
  • PK - Catalogue of Galactic Planetary Nebula.
  • Abell - Catalogue of Abell Clusters of Galaxies.
  • Famous Steve Gottlieb Notes attached to NGCIC objects.
  • New Info panel for double stars with Pa and Sep (about 1000 of them, have that recalculated using known orbital parameters of double systems).
  • Allow custom names for OLs (Observation Lists).
  • Eyepieces database with more than 500 popular eyepieces data.

 

Star Chart

  • Currently selected object visual highlighting.
  • Improved “touch select” rejecting background stars.
  • Tape measure” for angular distance.
  • Show component name and separation value in the double star label (for stars in yale bright star catalog).
  • On/OFF guidelines for eyepieces FOV overlay.
  • EP guidelines compass marks (N/E/S/W).
  • Independent brightness control for OL and Layers (easier to distinguish).
  • Objects from OL have an option to use a special marker “:” attached to their name/label.
  • Improved objects signs display or not AI on zoom in/out.
  • Extended Search Nearby feature (options to filter by DB a nd Type).
  • Object’s in Layers could be set to obey the Visibility Filter rules instead of the hard magnitude limit.
  • Improved DSO contour display or not AI, preventing duplication of signs when shown on different layers, from different databases.
  • Special highlighting of Yale stars in OL, with clear distinction of double stars vs singles.
  • The NGC layer now includes objects from SAC/HCG/NGCIC catalogues without duplications.

 

General GUI

  • In the DSO Selection list you can now mark objects for batch operations individually.
  • The Real Time sky drive button is now in the Set Time dialog window.
  • My Eyepieces database screen is available from the Star Chart  menu.
  • The Twilight Calculator tool is now taking the Moon data into the account for calculation of the true darkest sky period on the the current night as well as giving the prediction for the next 30 days ahead.
  • DSS downloading AI was improved for the automated batch images update for the OL.
  • Introduced the Observing locations database with 20,000 cities worldwide to select from. Also, the automatically detected location will be immediately recognized by one of the nearest cities from that database or by closest user defined location.
  • The “What’s New” section added to the Settings module to track new versions progress.

 

Objects Search and filtering

  • Significantly improved, simplified, and functionally extended object search (Global Search) and object’s select engine (Primary Search) Added an option to remove physically duplicated objects when searching in intersecting databases with different object name notations, search in PGC catalog, automatic cross-references search - to name just a few.
  • The Object Info screen will automatically find the selected object in every database installed and allows to immediately review the located data, including the Steve Gottlieb Notes database data for NGCIC database objects! Just tap the “More” button at the bottom to activate that feature.
  • You can search for a prefix string of text in the object name, which could be used for simplistic object tagging in a user made database (e.g. supply all of the similar objects in your database with “ds-” prefixed names an then search/filter them by that combination.
  • General object search is streamlined and simplified.
  • Double stars search parameters added (Pa/Separation/Mag2).
  • Bayer and Flamsteed catalogs are included into General Search.
  • Option to match objects in multiple constellations.
  • For incomplete data sets, when some of the object’s data values are missing, you can now select the preferred way to resolve the situation during search or selection (i.e. treat the empty field as zero valued, as a “very large number” or regardless count it as a positive or a negative match).

 

Import/Export

  • Import Sky Safari files.
  • Import Sky Tools files.
  • Import NSOG (Night Sky Observer Guide) integrated pre-compiled OL.
  • Introduced Automatic OL name management and manual renaming.
  • Improved databases backup engine to reduce the size of the user data backup.

To be honest, I'm amazed myself of how much had been done little by little. Looking forward to the inevitably approaching New Moon weekend ahead to dive in with NSOG lists in the palm of my hand!


Edited by halx, 09 April 2015 - 04:07 PM.

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#22 Kotarak

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Posted 23 April 2015 - 03:04 PM

This is some serious list! Really like what is listed as database improvements! Can't wait! Any potential release date?



#23 lvv1227

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Posted 23 April 2015 - 03:07 PM

Release is expected within a week or week and a half. At the moment final testing is underway



#24 lvv1227

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Posted 11 May 2015 - 09:15 AM

New releases of Pro and Plus versions have been published.


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#25 lvv1227

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Posted 27 May 2015 - 05:47 AM

Free and Basic editions have been updated as well




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