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Observing >> Variable Star Observing and Radio Astronomy

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agmakr
super member


Reged: 12/14/07

Loc: Agrinio, Greece
MPO Canopus or AIP4Win new
      #6077372 - 09/12/13 04:24 PM

Hello, i am searching for a software to use as my photometry tool and i have narrowed it down to the above two.

I am mainly interested in eclipsing binary systems and exoplanets.Canopus at $65 seems right for the job,
but i am a little worried about its complexity.
Is there spreadsheet processing involved with both programs?

Which would you suggest buying?

Thanks,
Angelos


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btieman
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 07/24/08

Re: MPO Canopus or AIP4Win new [Re: agmakr]
      #6077683 - 09/12/13 08:32 PM

I've submitted 35+ complete exoplanet transits to ETD and have dozens more partial transits I never submitted that were all done with AIP4Win. My teenage son has published several asteroid phase curves and I've measured a few myself with MPO Canopus. In the end, I've written my own software for generating light curves...sigh...

AIP4Win is pretty good. The book alone is well worth the money. The software has undergone some changes here and there, but it crashes pretty regularly on me and is slow and clunky to use. It's very frustrating if I want to experiment with different apertures and such. It used to take me over an hour to reduce a 300 frame time series into a table I could load into Excel for further processing...and I'd only have a handful of light curves from stars I hand picked. But ,once done, the results were generally very accurate. AIP4Win can also be used for general image analysis including pretty picture work if desired.

Although it can generate light curves for stars, I really only consider MPO for asteroid light curves. Many of it's features are tailored to the needs of generating and analyzing light curves from dynamic objects. For instance, it can link up to a star database and use the database plus computed locations of known asteroids to track asteroids across frames. It can also subtract background star light so that when an asteroid's path crosses it, the extra light from the star is subtracted from the total. And then there's the phase plot capability to help adjust light curves from multiple evenings and to help compute periods and such. All very handy when dealing with asteroids! But it's also a bit clunky at times and I'm not sure I would try exoplanets or variable stars with it.

Another option may be OSCAAR (http://oscaar.github.io/OSCAAR/) If you can stomach installing it's pre-requisits--mostly looks to be Python stuff and fairly straight forward but many don't want to futz with all that--myself included. I've enjoyed doing that sort of stuff for my day job for years, but I don't finding enjoyable doing it for my hobby! And so I've not yet played with OSCAAR. That it can do every star in the frame in what looks to be a simple and straight forward manner...and that it's free!...I think makes it worth the look for someone not afraid to futz with computer software.

I've also played with Mira and a few other programs over the years. For exoplanets and variables, I'd tend to recommend either AIP4Win (which I haven't been able to get to work under windows 8--beware!) or take a look at OSCAAR. But, as I mentioned, I've given up on them all and have resorted to writing my own software which has the GUI features I like, is threaded and is Java based so I can run it both on my windows machines and my Mac It's still a work in progress, but I can generate light curves for every star in the field and output directly to the data format ETD wants for data submission...

Hope something up there helps I'm sure others will chime in with their recommendations as well.


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Ed Wiley
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 05/18/05

Loc: Kansas, USA
Re: MPO Canopus or AIP4Win new [Re: btieman]
      #6077729 - 09/12/13 09:07 PM

Sounds like experience speaking! My two cents: you will want AIP4WIN if for no other reason than the book itself. I use it for my images processing. And it has DSLR processing. You can explore MPO Canopus later. I have used it and it is very powerful.

I am spoiled, as an AAVSO member I use VPHOT. But...I don't know about exoplanet work with this program.

http://www.aavso.org/vphot

Ed


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gavinm
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 08/26/05

Loc: Auckland New Zealand
Re: MPO Canopus or AIP4Win [Re: Ed Wiley]
      #6078188 - 09/13/13 03:28 AM

Yup, I'd pretty much agree with everything Brian mentioned above.

I use MaximDL for most of my photometry (but that's because I didn't have to pay for it).

OSCAAR certainly looks promising and when I get the time I'll give it a try, but as Brian says, there looks like a lot to installing all the Python files.

With regard to spreadsheets, you can start there. Bruce Gary has a good one for exoplanets from his website that I used for a while. Then I converted it to MATLAB which was a mission but I learned a lot and ended up writing my own analysis software. I found that for most stuff, Maxim or similar can do the post-processing and photometry and I would upload my data to ETD (exoplanet transit database) and that does everything for you. It gave pretty much the same results as my own software.

MIRA is really hard to use.

If I was starting from scratch (and assuming you know your way around computers) I would give OSCAAR a go. Looks promising and most of the academics I know in this field all use Python.

Great question, thanks.


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agmakr
super member


Reged: 12/14/07

Loc: Agrinio, Greece
Re: MPO Canopus or AIP4Win new [Re: gavinm]
      #6079052 - 09/13/13 04:36 PM

Hi all,

The fact is that i already have the book of AIP4Win, so now i'd be interested only in the software.
I placed an ad on Astromart so i may get lucky with that.

I don't want to be fully dependant on AAVSO or ETD to get my lightcurves.
Maybe i'll start with MaximDL which i already use for controlling everything.
My first choice should be AIP4Win however.

Thank you very much for your answers!


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groz
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 03/14/07

Loc: Campbell River, BC
Re: MPO Canopus or AIP4Win new [Re: agmakr]
      #6079274 - 09/13/13 07:28 PM

I will echo every part of what brian said.

I bought AIP4WIN. The book is good, has a couple minor typos in formula in places. It's rare I've been able to get it to generate a full light curve, start to finish, without crashing at least half a dozen times enroute. The book was worth the money, and, I think it would be better value sold WITHOUT the software. The program itself is a never ending source of frustration, get to the final step, touch a wrong button, and it pukes up an error screen, and vanishes. Then you get to start over, and try remember which button to not push next time thru.

I did eventually resort to writing my own, and, got it 90% of the way to 'soup', then life got in the way, and has continued to do so for the last couple of years.

I do intend to take a close look at oscaar, the python part doesn't look at all intimidating to me, a long time linux user. It's already installed on most of my computers anyways.


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gavinm
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 08/26/05

Loc: Auckland New Zealand
Re: MPO Canopus or AIP4Win new [Re: groz]
      #6079375 - 09/13/13 08:31 PM

Do you think that because so many of us are/have written 90% of an application, we should get together and write a full one sometime? or combine work or?

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ayiomamitis
sage
*****

Reged: 02/10/07

Loc: Athens, Greece
Re: MPO Canopus or AIP4Win new [Re: gavinm]
      #6079843 - 09/14/13 05:36 AM

Angelos et al,

Very interesting thread!

I have been using AIP4Win for at least the past ten years and I am quite surprised at the crash problems people are reporting. I have AIP4Win running on two machines (Windows XP/SP3 and Windows 7 Pro 64-bit) and it is very rare that the software will crash on me. The Win XP/SP3 machine has the maximum RAM it can accomodate (1 Gb) whereas my Win 7 system is at 4 Gb.

I will agree with the earlier comment that AIP4Win can be slow in processing an evening's worth of data. I have noticed that my Win XP machine will process about 10 files per minute (2148x1472) with full calibration whereas my Win 7 machine will process 30 such files during the same time interval.

My only complaint with AIP4Win is the light curve graphics and which could have been physically larger in size.

As noted above, the accompanying book is excellent and certainly worth the money alone.

I have looked into other options such as Maxim/DL (and CCDSoft?) but was never satisfied and which explains why I have been a happy camper with AIP4Win (V1.4 and now V2.4.0) the past decade.


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brianb11213
Postmaster
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Reged: 02/25/09

Loc: 55.215N 6.554W
Re: MPO Canopus or AIP4Win new [Re: ayiomamitis]
      #6079847 - 09/14/13 05:41 AM

Quote:

I have been using AIP4Win for at least the past ten years and I am quite surprised at the crash problems people are reporting.



Me too. Sure it's a bit clumsy at times but it's never crashed on me. (XP Pro running in a sandboxed virtual machine over a linux kernel)


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btieman
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 07/24/08

Re: MPO Canopus or AIP4Win new [Re: agmakr]
      #6079929 - 09/14/13 08:03 AM

Quote:

The fact is that i already have the book of AIP4Win, so now i'd be interested only in the software.
I placed an ad on Astromart so i may get lucky with that.





Angelos, I'm curious. How did you get the book without the software. My edition says "Includes AIP Software" right on the cover. It may be that not all additions included the software, but I thought they did.

It may just be that the disk is missing. Is there a bad code inside the cover with a 16 character code? Mine is inside the back cover and labeled "serial number". If so, I think all you need to do is go here: http://www.willbell.com/aip4win/aip.htm

You do need to have the 16 character code to register the software.


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btieman
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 07/24/08

Re: MPO Canopus or AIP4Win new [Re: brianb11213]
      #6079941 - 09/14/13 08:16 AM

Quote:

Quote:

I have been using AIP4Win for at least the past ten years and I am quite surprised at the crash problems people are reporting.



Me too. Sure it's a bit clumsy at times but it's never crashed on me. (XP Pro running in a sandboxed virtual machine over a linux kernel)




Most of the crashes were very predictable. Most. I don't want to bash the software...it's really quite powerful. I've worked as a software developer in the the National Laboratory system working with scientist's code for many years. While some great stuff comes out, it's never what I would call "consumer grade".

AIP is an admirable attempt at making "consumer grade" scientific software. I have no doubt it works well for many others without problem. I could do a lot of things without problem and still have it installed on my astronomy computer and use it regularly. But, the frustration level hit the point where I took a serious survey of alternatives--all of which are flawed in my opinion--and decided to trek down the path of writing my own.


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btieman
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 07/24/08

Re: MPO Canopus or AIP4Win new [Re: gavinm]
      #6079960 - 09/14/13 08:29 AM

Quote:

Do you think that because so many of us are/have written 90% of an application, we should get together and write a full one sometime? or combine work or?




Gavin, Groz and I kand of started down the route, but we had different desires/requirements. We still chat about how best to do things. My plate registration code is basically Groz's. My goal has always been focused more on analysis tooling whereas Groz has focused more on integration with telescope/camera control. I think we're both staunch supporters of the open source model, but life keeps getting in the way.

In my case, I do plan to open up the code and offer the project to the public whenever I reach a "feature complete" alpha stage. The barrier people will find to joining development of my stuff (and why I haven't opened it up yet) is that I'm developing an RCP application in Java under Eclipse. The driving motivations are to make *every* intermediate result open and available for inspection while providing high performance and "single button" tools. For example, I can register single plates, or I can feed 1000 of them through a job manager that farms them out to multiple threads. When done, I can generate plots of how the x location of a star drifted through the entire data set as computed by the plate references and plot that for analysis, etc...Same holds true for light curves. or any other calculable piece of data I have so far. I can do almost all the basics for photometry now but the UI still needs to be completed.

I'll let Groz speak to his stuff but he took a somewhat different approach to match his goals. Others writing their own stuff are doing the same. What I find is tough is getting enough people together who share a common vision that they all can/want to develop towards the same end product. In my experience !that's! the tricky part.


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agmakr
super member


Reged: 12/14/07

Loc: Agrinio, Greece
Re: MPO Canopus or AIP4Win new [Re: btieman]
      #6080028 - 09/14/13 09:24 AM

(Brian, i bought the book used from a friend and i don't want to use his registration codes. That's why i am looking for the software.
Please, continue with the interesting conversation)


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btieman
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 07/24/08

Re: MPO Canopus or AIP4Win new [Re: agmakr]
      #6080047 - 09/14/13 09:38 AM

Quote:

(Brian, i bought the book used from a friend and i don't want to use his registration codes. That's why i am looking for the software.
Please, continue with the interesting conversation)




Ah...that makes sense then. The registration code isn't obvious so I thought if that was the only issue, problem solved

For what it's worth, my photometry calculations are right out of that book--though implemented in Java. I think I might tweak how I discard contaminant star pixels from the annulus but the rest is pretty much bang on the equations from that book.


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gavinm
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 08/26/05

Loc: Auckland New Zealand
Re: MPO Canopus or AIP4Win new [Re: btieman]
      #6080658 - 09/14/13 03:59 PM

My applications were all analysis too. I did all my photometry in Maxim. My main area was the modelling and light-curve fitting (for exoplanets). I basically recreated the fitting used by ETD and added some extra stuff to make it more automated.

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groz
Carpal Tunnel
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Reged: 03/14/07

Loc: Campbell River, BC
Re: MPO Canopus or AIP4Win new [Re: gavinm]
      #6085823 - 09/17/13 12:01 PM

I started out with a completely different goal in mind. Initially, my work was an application that took data from a finder/guider, and used it to accurately point / guide the telescope. Once I had real time pointing in place, adding basic photometry to the ccd fields was bordering on trivial.

Round one of my work was all experimental, and fully hard wired to the equipment we have/had at the time. I started the general purpose re-write a couple years ago, intending to end up with something that works across the board. The first step on that, was getting camera driver stuff into indi, so that I could run all of our telescope gear with systems running an embedded linux. The goal is, small headless embedded system driving the telescopes, and data back to the house in real time over a network link.

Then life got in the way. Since then, we have dealt with parents in the paliative phase of life twice, moved twice, married off children, and I dont remember what all else got in the way over the last 3 years, but there has been zero time to work on this stuff for a long time.

But that is slowly changing again now. We moved for the last time a month ago, and now live in a home on a couple acres of land, under a bortle 3 sky. The all-sky camera went up this last weekend. We wont build a roll-off till next summer, but, the astronomy stuff is starting to come out of storage and get put to use again.

In the short term, I'm going to focus on getting capture fully automated for the all sky setup, then I'll start playing with various analysis on that data. Specifically, I want a way to quantify transparency and cloud cover, both of which should be well within reach using that data. Other fun things from that, meteor detection etc. Over the winter I'm also planning to get drivers running for all of our new (to us) gear that we haven't had a chance to use yet.

Hopefully, life wont continue to get in the way, and I'll be able to make headway on this project over the winter.


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