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MegaStar5

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#1 Star*Hopper

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Posted 29 May 2005 - 04:59 PM

Hey - any users of MegaStar-5 around? I's taking a look at it on the Will-Bell website, & though it appears to be well populated, I wasn't too impressed by the screen shots.

Anyway, I have some questions that perhaps only a user could answer. Anyone?

~Star*Hopper

#2 BillFerris

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Posted 29 May 2005 - 06:24 PM

I've been a Megastar user for many years. The real strength of this program are the deep-sky databases, which are second to none. They're thorough, accurate, easily searchable and can be configured for display to match just about any deep-sky hound's preference. Megastar's charting capability is another strength.

Being a map lover, Megastar is not the only astronomy tool on my laptop. I use SkyTools v1.7 for planning but prefer the Megastar charts for finding stuff. I use StarryNight Backyard for public "Sky Tonight" talks but it's databases are, well...less than accurate, to be polite.

What questions do you have about Megastar?

Regards,

Bill in Flagstaff

#3 Star*Hopper

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Posted 29 May 2005 - 10:40 PM

Hi Bill; Thx for the comeback. I'm a SkyTools2 w/RealTime man myself. I have SNP 4 & 4.5 too....and well know what you mean. It's pretty, but it's a PITA. Make that, an inaccurate PITA.

These are from a draft I had for W-B, thus the context. First off, why in the world don't they have an e-mail address? Looked all over their website & dang if I could find one! But anyway, here are the questions I had.

I have a Celestron Ultima 2000, which is ASCOM compliant. I noted your support of the NexStar/GPS series -- does it support my U2K? (Via serial port from laptop)

Proper motions - Are proper motions calculated and plotted for each date/time instance view? e.g., if I set a date for say, year 1900, would the displayed PA of double stars be plotted for that point in time? -- or are the depictions merely a static chart view of J2000 positions?

Updates/Bug fixes - Is the purchased CD the latest revision - ie, are updates/fixes included on the CD version, or must these be downloaded & added to computer memory after buying the CD?

User's Manual - Is the online PDF file the only provided manual? Is it the type of PDF file that allows copying of text, so I can copy data & notes from it & paste into e.g., NotePad or Word for use in my observing logs?

Planetary - Are Jovian, Martian (etc.) moons' current positions indicated? GRS?

Supplemental database CD - What objects (rough idea) are on the supplemental CD? Magnitude range?
(Limiting magnitude of my scope is ~15....do I need the supplemental CD?)

Is there an adjustable 'time-skip' function, for observing celestial motion over various periods of time?

And, this might be a too-obvious detail, but I don't recall seeing it mentioned in your site -- does it include facility for geolocation(s) of multiple viewing sites?

Finally, what are the contact points in case of technical help or support requirements?

======
That's it Bill.
Thx again,
~S*H

#4 BillFerris

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Posted 30 May 2005 - 12:56 AM

[quote name="Star*Hopper"]I have a Celestron Ultima 2000, which is ASCOM compliant. I noted your support of the NexStar/GPS series -- does it support my U2K? (Via serial port from laptop)[/quote]

That, I don't know, not having used the software for telescope control, myself. There's a Yahoo group, MegaStarusers, where you may be able to find the definitive answer. The owner's manual doesn't specifically mention the Celestron U2K.

[quote]Proper motions - Are proper motions calculated and plotted for each date/time instance view? e.g., if I set a date for say, year 1900, would the displayed PA of double stars be plotted for that point in time? -- or are the depictions merely a static chart view of J2000 positions?[/quote]

The double star catalog is the latest version of the WDS. If you list doubles visible in a field, the text box will show the separation and p.a. for first and last years of observation. I'm not into doubles, so you may want to ask this on the MegaStarusers list.

[quote]Updates/Bug fixes - Is the purchased CD the latest revision - ie, are updates/fixes included on the CD version, or must these be downloaded & added to computer memory after buying the CD?[/quote]

Bug fixes and updates are available free to MegaStar users. They can be downloaded through the Willmann-Bell site. I'm on version 5.0.09, myself.

[quote]User's Manual - Is the online PDF file the only provided manual? Is it the type of PDF file that allows copying of text, so I can copy data & notes from it & paste into e.g., NotePad or Word for use in my observing logs? [/quote]

MegaStar comes with a hardbound printed manual. If you prefer a PDF, you can download it free. I've not used the PDF version.

[quote]Planetary - Are Jovian, Martian (etc.) moons' current positions indicated? GRS? [/quote]

Nope.

[quote]Supplemental database CD - What objects (rough idea) are on the supplemental CD? Magnitude range?
(Limiting magnitude of my scope is ~15....do I need the supplemental CD?) [/quote]

I recommend using the auto download from DSS feature. The image is automatically scaled and rotated to match the orientation of your field. High speed Internet helps.

[quote]Is there an adjustable 'time-skip' function, for observing celestial motion over various periods of time? [/quote]

Yes...not the most elegant display in the world but functional.

[quote]And, this might be a too-obvious detail, but I don't recall seeing it mentioned in your site -- does it include facility for geolocation(s) of multiple viewing sites?[/quote]

Yes. The software comes with several hundred (thousand?) locations pre-loaded. Also, you can create user defined locations.

[quote]Finally, what are the contact points in case of technical help or support requirements?[/quote]

Technical support is often sought through the MegaStarusers Yahoo group. Unfortunately, Emil Bonanno does not participate in that forum. There are subscribers on that list who know how to contact Emil and will forward specific technical questions for response. But, admittedly, this is an area where MegaStar falls short of, say, an ap like Skytools whose author is very responsive and active in the Yahoo group for his product.

Have you looked into Guide8.0? I've not used it, myself, but it seems to do a nice job of handing both deep- and shallow-sky events.

Regards,

Bill in Flagstaff

#5 Star*Hopper

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Posted 30 May 2005 - 09:36 AM

Mucho thanx Bill. You just talked me out of it! *grin*

The plotting of apparent (current/proper) positions is very important to me. Will just keep waitin', looking forward to the new SkyTools release.

~Star*Hopper

#6 David Knisely

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Posted 30 May 2005 - 01:50 PM

Mucho thanx Bill. You just talked me out of it! *grin*

The plotting of apparent (current/proper) positions is very important to me. Will just keep waitin', looking forward to the new SkyTools release.

~Star*Hopper


Are you doing astrometry or something like that? The positions for Megastar are standard Equinox 2000.0 and can be precessed for any equinox you want to type in. Proper motions are not included in the plotting routines (Hipparcos and Tycho proper motion data is provided by Megastar), but since they are generally fairly small (with the exception of something like Barnard's Star), they are not all that important to plot. Megastar is designed for deep-sky enthusiasts and works pretty well in that regard. However, its double star database information and double star plotting routines are somewhat questionable, and that was one area where Megastar really let me down (even with the WDS updates apparently installed). However, for my deep-sky viewing, I almost never go out without it running on my little old laptop. Clear skies to you.

#7 Star*Hopper

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Posted 30 May 2005 - 04:50 PM

Thx for your input David. Astrometry it is, in general, and doubles, in specific - and that's where I suspected shortcomings.
~S*H

#8 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 09 June 2005 - 05:03 AM

Never heard of this one before. Can someone post a link to the software's web site? Always like to check out a new product!

#9 BillFerris

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Posted 09 June 2005 - 09:53 AM

S*H, Here's the IAU Minor Planet Center's recommended equipment for astrometry. What scope/CCD rig are you using?

Regards,

Bill in Flagstaff

#10 BillFerris

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Posted 09 June 2005 - 10:07 AM

Both MegaStar and Skytools have been around a while. Emil Bonano's original DOS version of MegaStar first started getting wide notice during the 1992 Texas Star Party. I believe Bonano may have been the first to integrate the GSC into charting software for the amateur. At the very least, he's on the short list of those who were first. The deep-sky catalogs included with MegaStar are unsurpassed. Greg Crinklaw's SkyTools has been around 6 or 7 years and does an excellent job of integrating planning, charting and logging functions into a very sweet package.

MegaStar: http://www.willbell....astar/index.htm
SkyTools: http://www.skyhound.com/skytools.html

Regards,

Bill in Flagstaff

#11 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 09 June 2005 - 11:01 PM

Thanks! There are SO many tools and options. I'm always running into more and I love to check out each one in my hunt for the "perfect" software. :)


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