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Astrophotography on the Mac

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#1 Lead_Weight

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Posted 21 January 2018 - 09:42 PM

I started a website some time ago for Mac users who are into Astrophotography. It's called the Mac Observatory. I'm not in it for any money, but would like for some people to take a look to see if I've missed anything in the software section that might be useful to others on the Mac. I hope to keep updating the site as a resource for Mac users. I've seen a few other sites that tried to do this, and they've not been updated in some time.

 

One area I've not covered is vendors that support the Mac with hardware drivers or specific software for their hardware (camera vendors, etc).

 

Anyhow, if you could take a look, I would appreciate it.

 

Regards,

Andrew


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#2 picodot

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Posted 21 January 2018 - 10:01 PM

Hi Andrew. I like what you have done. I'm bookmarking your page!! I am a Mac user as well and have been disappointed in the astrophotography software available for us Mac users. It's nice to see it all in one place.  I'm currently using a Canon Mark II with an Edge 8 HD but am thinking of moving up to Hyperstar and the Atik Horizon as my go to rig. Will let you know how it goes.



#3 PFitzhorn

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Posted 21 January 2018 - 10:46 PM

Thanks Andrew - I've bookmarked it as well.  Two  software programs I use quite a bit on my MacBook:

 

Planetarium & Scope Control

- TheSkyX by Software Bisque - used to control my Gemini 2 on a Losmandy G11

 

Planning & Observation

- Cartes du Ciel by Sky Charts (Star Maps)


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#4 moshen

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Posted 21 January 2018 - 10:55 PM

Nice, bookedmarked!



#5 Lead_Weight

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Posted 21 January 2018 - 10:56 PM

Hi Andrew. I like what you have done. I'm bookmarking your page!! I am a Mac user as well and have been disappointed in the astrophotography software available for us Mac users. It's nice to see it all in one place.  I'm currently using a Canon Mark II with an Edge 8 HD but am thinking of moving up to Hyperstar and the Atik Horizon as my go to rig. Will let you know how it goes.

Thanks! What software are you using currently?



#6 Lead_Weight

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Posted 21 January 2018 - 11:00 PM

Thanks Andrew - I've bookmarked it as well.  Two  software programs I use quite a bit on my MacBook:

 

Planetarium & Scope Control

- TheSkyX by Software Bisque - used to control my Gemini 2 on a Losmandy G11

 

Planning & Observation

- Cartes du Ciel by Sky Charts (Star Maps)

Thanks Patrick, I've added them.

 

Regards,

Andrew



#7 Fivel

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Posted 23 January 2018 - 11:17 AM

You have done some great work Andrew!

You may want to add these two to the processing apps:

1. Lynkeos-free (very simple to use for videos and images)

2. Keith's Image Stacker-donation ware (more complicated to learn)

They do not have many of the tools from PI, APP or Photoshop, but can produce decent first step stacked images.

 

Fivel



#8 Lead_Weight

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Posted 23 January 2018 - 01:52 PM

You have done some great work Andrew!

You may want to add these two to the processing apps:

1. Lynkeos-free (very simple to use for videos and images)

2. Keith's Image Stacker-donation ware (more complicated to learn)

They do not have many of the tools from PI, APP or Photoshop, but can produce decent first step stacked images.

 

Fivel

Those are some good suggestions. I have both installed, but have not posted them before. Both seem better suited for planetary stacking, however I've not had much luck with them personally.



#9 jhighfield

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Posted 24 June 2018 - 09:18 AM

I started a website some time ago for Mac users who are into Astrophotography. It's called the Mac Observatory. I'm not in it for any money, but would like for some people to take a look to see if I've missed anything in the software section that might be useful to others on the Mac. I hope to keep updating the site as a resource for Mac users. I've seen a few other sites that tried to do this, and they've not been updated in some time.

 

One area I've not covered is vendors that support the Mac with hardware drivers or specific software for their hardware (camera vendors, etc).

 

Anyhow, if you could take a look, I would appreciate it.

 

Regards,

Andrew

I also plan to use macs only.

 

So I bought PixInsight, The Sky X Pro with T-Point, and Camera Add on.


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#10 setareh65

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Posted 13 July 2018 - 03:50 PM

Hi Andrew, 

Thanks for this wonderful site!  I'm an inveterate Mac user and new to astrophotography so many of your solutions make the learning curve a little less steep.  I was curious if you can recommend any beginner level cameras that are Mac compatible since the one your using is more than my skill warrants at the moment.   I'm using a Celestron, 9.25", 2350mm, f10.   

 

Would appreciate any advice.  Thanks!



#11 Lead_Weight

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Posted 14 July 2018 - 10:05 AM

Hi Andrew, 

Thanks for this wonderful site!  I'm an inveterate Mac user and new to astrophotography so many of your solutions make the learning curve a little less steep.  I was curious if you can recommend any beginner level cameras that are Mac compatible since the one your using is more than my skill warrants at the moment.   I'm using a Celestron, 9.25", 2350mm, f10.   

 

Would appreciate any advice.  Thanks!

 

Thanks! It really depends on what you want to image. At such a long focal length, you could do some really nice planetary imaging with something like the ZWO ASI224MC Camera. The ZWO cameras have really good compatibility on the Mac. Though there are other choices too. You can also use any DSLR camera you might already have to start learning.

 

If you want to do deep sky objects, things start to get more complicated. You will want to speed up your scope some by using a focal reducer. Depending on your mount, other things might come into play as well. But planetary is the easiest to start with, and with the Mars opposition approaching this month, you’ll have a great chance to get some nice shots.



#12 jhighfield

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Posted 15 July 2018 - 08:11 PM

Add Observatory to your list.

 

It is an image management program that can do non destructive pre processing of your images.

it can calibrate images

It can stack images.

It can plate solve your images 

As well as be used to organize all your images in libraries



#13 Lead_Weight

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Posted 15 July 2018 - 08:40 PM

Add Observatory to your list.

 

It is an image management program that can do non destructive pre processing of your images.

it can calibrate images

It can stack images.

It can plate solve your images 

As well as be used to organize all your images in libraries

 

Thanks! I’ve got it on there. I’ve even done a write up of it. grin.gif



#14 mattd2222

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Posted 16 July 2018 - 03:13 PM

Awesome! Thanks so much for this link. It is definitely going to help as I venture into astrophotography. 



#15 Ron359

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Posted 16 July 2018 - 05:20 PM

Thanks! It really depends on what you want to image. At such a long focal length, you could do some really nice planetary imaging with something like the ZWO ASI224MC Camera. The ZWO cameras have really good compatibility on the Mac. Though there are other choices too. You can also use any DSLR camera you might already have to start learning.

 

If you want to do deep sky objects, things start to get more complicated. You will want to speed up your scope some by using a focal reducer. Depending on your mount, other things might come into play as well. But planetary is the easiest to start with, and with the Mars opposition approaching this month, you’ll have a great chance to get some nice shots.

I find that a curious comment.  As I think its just the opposite;  very little available for planetary image processing with a Mac and not a huge amount, but plenty of very good deep sky software both for imaging and processing.  Just shooting a video isn't much help w/o ability to stack thousands of frames and process.  

 

What do you recommend for stacking and processing planetary video with a Mac?  AFAIK there is nothing Mac compatible like Autosakkert or Registax (both windoze only).  Does Lynkeos even work on an Intel Mac, cause it barely worked on the old ones?  And Keith's Image stacker is ancient and very cumbersome.  Maybe I've not seen it if something new is out there.  I would love to have something to replace or update my old (but still works w/ my licensed older FW cameras) unsupported AstroIIDC.  


Edited by Ron359, 16 July 2018 - 05:21 PM.


#16 Lead_Weight

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Posted 16 July 2018 - 06:29 PM

I find that a curious comment.  As I think its just the opposite;  very little available for planetary image processing with a Mac and not a huge amount, but plenty of very good deep sky software both for imaging and processing.  Just shooting a video isn't much help w/o ability to stack thousands of frames and process.  

 

What do you recommend for stacking and processing planetary video with a Mac?  AFAIK there is nothing Mac compatible like Autosakkert or Registax (both windoze only).  Does Lynkeos even work on an Intel Mac, cause it barely worked on the old ones?  And Keith's Image stacker is ancient and very cumbersome.  Maybe I've not seen it if something new is out there.  I would love to have something to replace or update my old (but still works w/ my licensed older FW cameras) unsupported AstroIIDC.  

I guess I should clarify my statement. I made some assumptions based on his hardware, and level of expertise (new to astrophotography) and was making a recommendation based on what he might find easier to do from a process standpoint, not based on the software that is out there. Planetary is relatively easier than deep sky imaging for a number of reasons.

 

But you are absolutely correct from a software standpoint, planetary processing software on the Mac currently stinks. Both the apps you mentioned are not actively being developed, and currently, those are the only choices for processing. There are a lot of options for capturing planetary, but that's it. There's a ton of options for deep sky imaging and processing, so we're well covered in that regard.

 

I've spoken to both Peter at Cloudmakers, and Mabula at Astro Pixel Processor, and there's interest in developing something to fit this niche which is currently lacking on the Mac. It's more in line with what Mabula does, and he only needs to write an algorithm to align and stack a planetary image, as he's developing wavelet processing already for another update.

 

For myself, I use bootcamp to take advantage of Autostakkert and Registax, and this is the only reason I use Windows at this point. Everything else can be done strictly on the Mac side of the equation. 


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#17 MomEngineer

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Posted 21 July 2018 - 12:24 PM

I started a website some time ago for Mac users who are into Astrophotography. It's called the Mac Observatory. I'm not in it for any money, but would like for some people to take a look to see if I've missed anything in the software section that might be useful to others on the Mac. I hope to keep updating the site as a resource for Mac users. I've seen a few other sites that tried to do this, and they've not been updated in some time.

 

One area I've not covered is vendors that support the Mac with hardware drivers or specific software for their hardware (camera vendors, etc).

 

Anyhow, if you could take a look, I would appreciate it.

 

Regards,

Andrew

 

I am new to astronomy, and I am also heavily invested in Apple. I actually found your site a few weeks ago.  It is now a pinned tab on Safari.  I would love to see a forum here dedicated to Mac OS (and Linux, for those guys smile.gif ).

 

Using Bootcamp, etc... as a workaround is a great idea; however, as a Mac user I can tell you the experience just isn't the same as actually using the Mac OS environment.  


Edited by MomEngineer, 21 July 2018 - 12:25 PM.

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#18 Lead_Weight

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Posted 22 July 2018 - 10:31 AM

I am new to astronomy, and I am also heavily invested in Apple. I actually found your site a few weeks ago.  It is now a pinned tab on Safari.  I would love to see a forum here dedicated to Mac OS (and Linux, for those guys smile.gif ).

 

Using Bootcamp, etc... as a workaround is a great idea; however, as a Mac user I can tell you the experience just isn't the same as actually using the Mac OS environment.  

Yes, every time I boot into it, I'm reminded what a nightmare of an operating system it is. It can't handle high-DPI resolution monitors, some apps icons and menus are so small they're unreadable, others are not. It's constantly wanting to reboot to install updates, the file manager is inconsistent between open and close dialog boxes in different apps. And the UI design of almost every application is horrible and unintuitive. But other than that, I guess it works. lol.gif



#19 sve

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Posted 22 July 2018 - 08:27 PM

Do you use a motorized focuser?



#20 Lead_Weight

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Posted 22 July 2018 - 09:09 PM

Do you use a motorized focuser?


Yeah, I have Moonlite focusers on two telescopes.

Edited by Lead_Weight, 22 July 2018 - 09:10 PM.


#21 cgarry

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Posted 23 July 2018 - 03:07 PM

One more for your list Andrew:

SER Player: https://sites.google...pipp/ser-player

 

Cheers,

Chris


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#22 Ron359

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Posted 24 July 2018 - 10:44 AM

You seemed to have missed the StarryNight suite of software.  I've been using SNP 6 for years for planning imaging as it has a good suite of tools for creating FOV for various cameras, scopes and lenses and overall good planetarium program.   SNP 7 has been out for a few years but I haven't bothered to 'upgrade' as it had a lot of problems when it first came out.  Hopefully they have been fixed since then.   

 

https://store.simula...ctions/software



#23 Lead_Weight

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Posted 24 July 2018 - 05:22 PM

You seemed to have missed the StarryNight suite of software.  I've been using SNP 6 for years for planning imaging as it has a good suite of tools for creating FOV for various cameras, scopes and lenses and overall good planetarium program.   SNP 7 has been out for a few years but I haven't bothered to 'upgrade' as it had a lot of problems when it first came out.  Hopefully they have been fixed since then.   

 

https://store.simula...ctions/software

Interesting. I never really checked into it as I assumed this was just for PC. And Sky Safari was their Mac app. I wonder if they will continue to support both long term. I kind of wish I had a copy to compare both of the applications. Sky Safari pro provides a lot of value for a lot less money.



#24 Ron359

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Posted 24 July 2018 - 06:29 PM

Interesting. I never really checked into it as I assumed this was just for PC. And Sky Safari was their Mac app. I wonder if they will continue to support both long term. I kind of wish I had a copy to compare both of the applications. Sky Safari pro provides a lot of value for a lot less money.

Starry Night has always been Mac compatible which is why I bought it after Software Bisques' Mac version of The Sky V, went all Windose w/ The Sky 6, back in the late 90s or early 2K. It was many years before they brought out TheSkyX as universal, for a lot of $$$. Starry Night was a Canadian company bought by SimmulationCurriculum in early 2000s.  

 

Sky Safari was started independently and after several years SimulationCurriculum (Starry Night) then bought them. I guess you buy your competition to also get all their iOS capability.  That was several years ago.  So far they have kept both up to date with new versions and updates. Sky Safari is a more basic a 'eye candy' app developed more for iOS devices than what I think of as a serious planetarium & telescope control program like TheSkyX or StarryNight Pro.  I have always had problems using Sky Safari for anything like new asteroids and some comets so I stick with SNP6 or TheSkyX for 'serious' stuff.  SS is also more limited for telescope control options and accuracy.  Although they have worked on all those problems.  But for an inexpensive small app, SS does a lot and has pretty graphics.  


Edited by Ron359, 24 July 2018 - 06:30 PM.


#25 Lead_Weight

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Posted 24 July 2018 - 10:02 PM

Thanks for the info. From their marketing pages, it’s really difficult to understand what the main differences are. There are very few images of the interface available. What they do show, makes it seem like the focus is on planets and moons.


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