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Astrophotography on the Mac

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#251 Paul in Northern Michigan

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Posted 04 July 2021 - 10:27 AM

DJL:  Very excellent ideas and considerations for structuring the folders, even going beyond the image placement itself.  I certainly could and should make a generic template for notes to be used with every imaging session.  Otherwise it all becomes a jumble as to whether the data is worth revisiting.  At some point there are frames or imaging sessions that should be thrown out.

 

Starting from the ground floor with a formatted MacBook and recently purchased Observatory is the perfect time to consider how to pull everything together.  I'm one of those people who can't comprehend organization but understand when things aren't organized.  I also have thought up intricate ways to organize projects only to throw them out because it is too hard to maintain.

 

Right now I have some new images on a flash drive which is forcing my feet forward.  When initially opening up FITS images within Observatory I love the amount of detail given with each image.  This in itself will be helpful for setting up notes for the imaging session(s).  This Spring and Summer has been a blur and I haven't done well in staying on top of things.  Shooting with FITS has been a big adjustment for me, but just being able to view everything cohesively will go a long ways.  Yes, I also love the plate solved images!

 

I will thoroughly go through your suggestions and see how this matches up with my process and multiple setups.  I do like the idea of having all of the subs in a drop down file structure starting by year.

 

You stated something about the Library.  Ideally would only your processed images be in the Library or would this carry the entire folder structure including subs?



#252 Lead_Weight

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Posted 04 July 2021 - 10:58 AM

I have my photos stored on an external drive by Year, object catalog number: telescope. Sometimes I will shoot the same object with a different scope and focal length so this is why I add that designation.

 

One cool thing Observatory does is make smart folders of your data. So you can dump it in there, then plate solve your images. It will then automatically sort the data (without moving your files on the hard drive) into Smart Folders by object catalog, or object type. It has smart folders for nebulas, open clusters, etc, but also Messier, NGC, etc. So any object captured in your field of view is shown in that specific folder. 

 

One other nice feature it has is the ability to tag those images with additional metadata, like telescope name, camera name or more. You can then manually create Smart Folders to show every image taken with a certain piece of hardware.


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#253 DJL

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Posted 04 July 2021 - 11:00 AM

The point of Observatory is to store all your subs. You really should keep them all unless they are truly unusable. I even keep ludicrously bad subs - https://www.cloudyni...est-worst-subs/.

 

The folder structure I suggested still has a wrinkle. Sessions take place at night, often over midnight, so what date do you use for the folder? I typically use the date of before midnight. If I'm up over midnight and switch to a new target, it's tempting to switch to the new date. But then if I'm also shooting the following night, with the same date... Just pick a rule and stick to it.

 

It's up to you how you set up the libraries. I just found in the old days of iPhoto, splitting up the iPhoto library by topic was a terrible idea that it took a lot of work to recover from. iPhoto was replaced by Photos so hopefully as a newer Mac user, that's all you know :-).

 

Since you mentioned being new to Mac after using Windows, I asked around and was recommended to suggest MacMost.com - here is a page of Mac basics tips: https://macmost.com/mac-basics

 

Let us know how it goes. I just moved to a new external flash drive so I'm setting up a new Observatory library and will add anything I find out in the process.


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#254 Lead_Weight

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Posted 04 July 2021 - 11:17 AM

Alternatively Observatory is made to work with multiple catalogs. So if it's untenable to make a single massive catalog, you could do one for each imaging session (since it does some basic image calibration when darks, bias, lights, and flats are loaded in). Or you could make a catalog for each month, or each year to make it easier to see what you've captured during that time.


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#255 DJL

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Posted 04 July 2021 - 11:50 AM

Alternatively Observatory is made to work with multiple catalogs. So if it's untenable to make a single massive catalog, you could do one for each imaging session (since it does some basic image calibration when darks, bias, lights, and flats are loaded in). Or you could make a catalog for each month, or each year to make it easier to see what you've captured during that time.

Sure - but with many smaller libraries, isn't the smart folder feature less valuable?



#256 nebulachadnezzer

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Posted 04 July 2021 - 12:49 PM

One other nice feature it has is the ability to tag those images with additional metadata, like telescope name, camera name or more. You can then manually create Smart Folders to show every image taken with a certain piece of hardware.

In addition there's a sort of hidden extra feature that is highly useful even outside of the Observatory application. It adds many of the metadata parameters to Spotlight search, so you can locate files using the Finder.
 

Spotlight example

Side note: You can see my preferred file name scheme: <object>_<camera>_<aperture diameter>_<f-ratio>_<exposure>_<bin>_<filter>_<YYYYMMDD>-<HHMMSS>_<sensor temp>_<sequence number>.fits

Everything but the camera, aperture diameter, and f-ratio are added by my capture software (ASIAir). I use a batch renaming tool to add the rest. Recently ASIAir added the feature to include camera model so I may stop doing that manually. 

These filename inclusions mean I can find these files even without the Finder/Spotlight extensions although both are useful.


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#257 DJL

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Posted 04 July 2021 - 01:06 PM

Astro Pixel Processor gets the camera model from the metadata and also has a checkbox for different cameras used in multisession. I like the idea of adding camera to the filename. 

Long filenames are a nuisance in Mac column view though - there is no great option to right size each column individually, you can only set all columns to the max width of one of them. Wish they would fix this.



#258 Jeff Morgan

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Posted 04 July 2021 - 02:49 PM

Interesting conversation which begs a related question:

 

How much storage space for the beginning imager?

 

My ASI2600MM has arrived, and coincidentally I need to update pretty much all of the technology in the house.

 

A M1 iMac is on order, 16 gb memory and 1 tb storage.

 

My aging Time Capsule has a failed cooling fan, so that needs to be replaced with a backup drive and wireless router. (And while I am at it, perhaps I should replace my 6-1/2 year old cable modem.)

 

The backup drive could be partioned for computer archival and imaging. Or would it be best to buy two externals, one for each purpose?

 

I'm guessing each sub (or frame) would be 60 mb?



#259 Lead_Weight

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Posted 04 July 2021 - 03:37 PM

Storage is very cheap. I have an 8 TB drive, and it’s about half full after three years. 


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#260 Paul in Northern Michigan

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Posted 10 July 2021 - 03:30 PM

At last I'm ready to start the file renaming project within Observatory.

 

I have purchased a Solid State 4TB drive which should hold me for a while.

 

I've been looking around for more details on doing the file naming for Observatory but very little is out there for this.  I couldn't even find a YouTube related to this software.  Within the Code Obsession forum I am seeing different members within this thread who have posted in how the software is great, but fails in one specific area.  I'm not looking to do stacking within the software, I'm going to be doing this from a pure observational organization stand point.  I may be interested in some of the plate solving capabilities.

 

I'm trying to determine the best organizational structure for the least headaches down the road.

 

Within the software documentation it sounds as if they recommend an approach similar to DJL's approach.  They would be using date as the primary sorting criteria, using a year, month, day format.  This would make for easy sorting.

I keep my Astrophotography on an external drive.

Top level folders for Finished, working, originals. Finished photos get converted to jpeg and added to Mac Photos.

Inside Originals and Finished, folders like so (a snippet of my campaign to capture the Spaghetti Nebula):

- 2020

- 2021

-- 2021-01

--- 2021-01-03 - SH2-240 L-extreme 

--- 2021-01-05 - Flats <gain> <time> <filter>

--- 2020-01-07 - SH2-240 RGB

-- 2021-02

-- 2021-03

 

When I decide to process a particular tarkget, I assemble all the files in one folder in Working folder structure. This means I am never editing in the Originals folder - avoiding changing any files as well as clogging it up with intermediate processing files. In the folder for the target, I stage the files into folders by session and filter and calibration file type flats, darks etc. If using Siril I would use Siril's naming convention.

This makes it easier to import multi-session multi-channel captures into AstroPixel Processor.

Their approach appears to differ somewhat as within the documentation they seem to suggest multiple libraries where there are different stages of images.  They suggest libraries of Original, Pre-process, Complete and Temporary.  I believe that DJL's method is to keep completed photos at the top level of each folder.

 

I would have the tendency to separate my stages similar to the software documentation.  In my case I would have the originals, APP and then StarTools.

 

There is one thing that is a little perplexing to me; in both the Observatory documentation and DJL's library structure the main headings are by year, and it is not by subject.

 

My tendency would be giving a subject name as a heading in different areas.  Perhaps this doesn't sort well in Observatory though.  What I have been doing is something like this:

 

Originals

  2020

   Andromeda

    20200307

     Flats

     Darks

     Lights

    20200308

     Flats

     Darks

     Lights

    20200309

     Flats

     Darks

     Lights

   Orion

   Pleides

   Etc...

 2021

  Bodes

  Pinwheel

  Whirlpool

 

Astro Pixel Processor

 2020

  Andromeda

  Orion

  Pleiades

 2021

   Bodes

   Pinwheel

   Whirlpool

 

Star Tools

 2020

  Andromeda

  Orion

  Pleiades

 2021

  Bodes

  Pinwheel

  Whirlpool

 

So as you can see my subjects would be both the stage of processing of the images as well as the subject name of what I imaged.  To be even more complicated I have 3 different setups which have varying apertures and focal lengths.  I left this out of my above sorting as it would have tripled the amount of folder names.

 

I am getting the idea that what I have been doing wouldn't fly well within the Observatory structure as Observatory might want to divide things up in it's own way, and it flat out might not be very sortable the way I have been doing this.

 

I still would have to say that if I was to imagine how I would want to see things sorted, each would seem to be better organized in a separate library;  

 

Originals:  I would like to be able to sort through the originals image by image within each evening session so I could throw out the bad images and make sure that the settings match correctly.

 

Astro Pixel Processor:  I would like to retain all of the calibration masters as well as the finished integrated FITS image.  This would help if I had future projects to perhaps add more images to stack or just searching for the completed FITS to reprocess in StarTools.

 

StarTools:  Here I would like to retain the finished images for viewing in the catalog.

 

It appears that to make this work correctly I will need to start my folder name by date and follow it by the image target name.  Just like DJL showed in his folder structure.  I would want to have the folder structure not separate by target and just sort by date.

 

As far as separating by my separate setups I would want to either have a text file inside the folder describe this and or do some tagging to the images so I could perhaps view my images sorted by aperture size.

 

I am seeing that batch editing image tags is possible and the Observatory documentation does recommend this at one point.

 

As far as text files, for some reason the Observatory documentation recommends simple .txt type files and not word or excel type documents.  I would have no problem in doing this.  It would be nice however to make a master template that could be edited by category for each session instead of making one from scratch each imaging session.

 

Perhaps I am making this more complicated than what it actually is, but it does appear that getting the structure correct in the 1st place will save some headaches later.  I do wish there were more YouTubes or even simple tutorials on this software.

 

I'll feedback once I get this project underway.



#261 Lead_Weight

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Posted 10 July 2021 - 09:31 PM

That seems like a lot of file organization and process.

 

I store mine by Year / Object Name / Session / Light / Filter name

 

Sometimes I'll put Object Name - Telescope name because I shoot the same object with different focal lengths.

 

So it looks a little something like the below. I don't file them away down to the day. So 5 sessions were usually over a 5 day period. 1 session per day.

 

EDIT: I forgot to add that I have all my processing files in the main folder of the object. Because all the originals are stored in the above structure, and no matter what programs I use to process, the processed files are all in the same place.

 

Observatory doesn't really care about your physical structure, because within Observatory you can set up smart folder that work off the metadata of your images no matter where they live. So If you plate solve your images, you can search for them by object/catalog number. It will take the date out of the fits header, and you can make Smart Folders by date. You can tag the images with the equipment used, and retrieve them that way. What I like about Observatory is it really leans on the Mac feature set and takes advantage of that in a way that cross platform apps can't. 

 

file-structure.jpg


Edited by Lead_Weight, 10 July 2021 - 09:33 PM.

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#262 DJL

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Posted 10 July 2021 - 11:59 PM

Providing some clarification :-)

 

I keep 3 top level folders - originals, working and finished

Originals store the originals and no working files, in the folder structure described

If I shoot darks, bias or flats, I just store them on the day that I shot them with dark or bias or flat as if it was the target name:

- I don't shoot darks and bias every session now that I am using a cooled camera. I do everything at -10C so I use the -10C darks.

- I don't shoot flats every session because my scope can stay mounted and I just roll it out on wheels. I do take flats if I change the optical train.

- The filter used gets coded into the filename along with the temperature, gain, target name, date and time, because ASIAIR Pro knows what filter I am using from the filter wheel info. If not using the filter wheel I would add that info to the folder name.

 

Working folder

- if I decide to work on a target, I copy folders from the originals folder into the working folder, leaving the originals unchanged. All work gets done in the working folder and I can delete intermediate files after. I sometimes do several tries with APP so there's plenty to delete.

- in the working folder, if I shot the same target on several days, I stage the files into folders for session1, session 2 etc. I find it easier to import into APP this way, rather than constantly trying to remember which day was which session.

- I used to keep a sortable filterable spreadsheet of sessions and targets, so that I could filter on a target and see all the sessions I have captured it.

- Observatory supports smart folders, so that would be my way of doing this in Observatory - a smart folder for each target.

 

I actually started with a simpler system - mixing up working and originals, no month folders - but decided I like to keep the originals separate and pristine, and in the winter I had many weeks with multiple clear nights in a row, so I needed month folders to help navigation.

 

I copy completed images in another top level folder, a sibling of originals and working.

From there I can easily find them and also copy them to the Photos app or message them to friends.


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#263 Paul in Northern Michigan

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Posted 11 July 2021 - 07:09 AM

Thank you for clarifying more of how Observatory works.

 

I am glad that the organization isn't greatly dependent on keeping everything ordered perfectly by date.

 

 

I am now in the process of bringing in completely unorganized folders  (Bias, Flats, Darks, Lights) which will get moved to appropriate folders.  What would be the best way of reviewing files temporarily to determine whether the files are good; knowing that they will be later moved or deleted?



#264 DJL

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Posted 11 July 2021 - 01:41 PM

If you just want to look at each file, after. installing Observatory you can look at them in the Mac OS Finder. You could use the view that shows one large image with thumbnails below, and scroll through using the arrow keys. This is ok if you are looking for out of focus, star trails or aircraft, but won't always show nebulosity.

You can do the same in Observatory.

Observatory also supports blink - search for "Blinking images" in the help.


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#265 DJL

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Posted 07 September 2021 - 06:37 PM

Siril will do planetary stacking. Apparently Lynkeos got an update and still works for planetary too. It takes some work, but PixInsight can do it as well. Still the best overall stacking program is Autostakkert on windows. Currently, Siril is the best on the Mac. I know they are also regularly updating it with improvements for planetary stacking.

I just started doing planetary using a ZWO ASIAIR Pro , ASI 462MC and am trying to process the results using Siril.

 

The ZWO gear saves an .AVI file in Raw8 format. If you try to open this it looks monochrome with a fine grid over it. However it is a color format and can be debayered.

 

I am looking for a Mac app that will open and convert this RAW8 .AVI format correctly to color, as there appears to be no option that does it in Siril.

 

PIPP, Registax and Autostakkert can open this format and can be run under Wine on Mac. WineBottler was an app that could package Windows apps into Mac apps this way, but Macs are now 64 bit only so WineBottler will no longer work. If anyone has run these apps under Wine on Big Sur, I'd be happy to hear how it's done.

 

Clear skies!


Edited by DJL, 07 September 2021 - 09:27 PM.


#266 ClownFish

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Posted 07 September 2021 - 07:13 PM

PlanetarySystemStacker runs well on Mac OSX, and produces results on par with Autostakkert.  


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#267 DJL

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Posted 09 September 2021 - 06:24 PM

PlanetarySystemStacker runs well on Mac OSX, and produces results on par with Autostakkert.  

I'd appreciate hearing how you got this working, as I have not succeeded so far.

 

I installed Python3, but "python" at the terminal still launches Python 2.7.

 

I then did the pip3 command to install PlanetarySystemStacker, which apparently succeeded apart from a wanring "WARNING: You are using pip version 21.2.3; however, version 21.2.4 is available.

You should consider upgrading via the '/Library/Frameworks/Python.framework/Versions/3.9/bin/python3.9 -m pip install --upgrade pip' command."

 

The manual says:

"If Python 3 is not installed yet, you need to install it now. For Windows, Python 3.6.8 is recommended. The installer file can be downloaded from this web page. For Linux and MacOS, the latest Python release is available here[link].

Now try again to start the Python interpreter. If it still does not work, check if the Python installation folder and the “Scripts” and “Library/bin” subfolders are on the system path (environment variable). If not, add them to the path.
When the Python interpreter is installed properly, open a terminal and enter:
     pip3 install planetary-system-stacker
This installs PSS together with all libraries required. After completion, PSS is started from the terminal by entering:

     PlanetarySystemStacker"

 

I ran "PlanetarySystemStacker" from the terminal.

-bash: PlanetarySystemStacker: command not found

 

At the python3 interpreter command line:

>>> PlanetarySystemStacker
Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "<stdin>", line 1, in <module>
NameError: name 'PlanetarySystemStacker' is not defined

 

Any suggestions?



#268 ClownFish

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Posted 09 September 2021 - 07:10 PM

I first installed homebrew then:

 

brew doctor

The last step gives you some warnings and errors that you have to resolve. One of those will be to download and install the Mac OS X command-line tools.

then:

 

brew install python3

This gave me python3 and pip3 in my path.

 

peterkennett@Peters-Air ~ % which pip3 python3
/Library/Frameworks/Python.framework/Versions/3.9/bin/pip3
/Library/Frameworks/Python.framework/Versions/3.9/bin/python3
peterkennett@Peters-Air ~ %


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#269 ClownFish

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Posted 09 September 2021 - 07:19 PM

Screen Shot 2021-09-09 at 6.16.12 PM copy.jpg



#270 giorgio_ne

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Posted 11 September 2021 - 05:01 PM

I am wondering if anyone might be able to assist me in determining a good FITS viewer for Mac?

 

My intention at this point is only to have an interface where I can bring up individual FITS files and be able to delete them while in the opened interface.

 

I bought the Affinity Photo software thinking that it would perhaps have a way of doing this.

 

I have recently decided to try out Fits images while I am using Ekos, but I'd like to eliminate the bad images prior to importing them in APP.

SAO DS9 is the best. Much more than just a FITS viewer but yet incredibly lightweight and fast:

https://sites.google...edu/saoimageds9



#271 ClownFish

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Posted 11 September 2021 - 06:45 PM

Nothing beats Pixinisght's BLINK inspection option, where you can load up all your FITS files, preview each one, and delete or move selected files.  You can also scroll through all the images at 1/10th a second like a movie so you can check for asteroids, comets etc.  



#272 Lead_Weight

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Posted 11 September 2021 - 06:54 PM

There are multiple finder fits plugins, just search the App Store on your Mac. You’ll be able to quick preview right in the finder.

#273 Paul in Northern Michigan

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Posted 11 September 2021 - 08:10 PM

I appreciate all of the ideas as far as FITS viewing options.  It most certainly isn't the automatic that sorting RAW files was on a Mac.

 

I have been trying out Mac Observatory.  To be honest it hasn't completely met my expectations beyond the basic viewing.  As always it may just be the way I am using it.

 

Here is what I don't like.  I spent time in setting up a new folder structure of which I imported into Mac Observatory.  Once again I will use the disclaimer that possibly I'm missing something.  The thing I don't like is that if I add other shooting sessions they don't automatically populate under the folder hierarchy that was established.  I was hoping for instance that since I inserted the "Unprocessed" folder that Mac Observatory would update to include all of the new dated sessions that were added on my external hard drive.  Maybe this is unfair expectations but to keep this up to date would require a lot of duplication of effort.

 

I do like the fact that at least I can use Mac Observatory as a way of observing FITS without them being imported in the Mac Observatory library.  In this way I can at least review all of my images in Preview.

 

I would like it if you additionally could view the plate solved images without them being imported into the Library.

 

Clownfish: Lately I have lessened my resistance towards the cost and learning curve of Pixinsight.  There appears to be ample tutorials for this software.  Most of all though it appears that this software does much that other Astrophotography software does not.  I am not familiar with the BLINK function.



#274 DJL

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Posted 18 September 2021 - 05:42 PM

I first installed homebrew then:

 

brew doctor

The last step gives you some warnings and errors that you have to resolve. One of those will be to download and install the Mac OS X command-line tools.

then:

 

brew install python3

This gave me python3 and pip3 in my path.

 

peterkennett@Peters-Air ~ % which pip3 python3
/Library/Frameworks/Python.framework/Versions/3.9/bin/pip3
/Library/Frameworks/Python.framework/Versions/3.9/bin/python3
peterkennett@Peters-Air ~ %

Ok (not, sigh):

 

Installed Homebrew

Reinstalled >>the latest<< python3 (3.9.7) multiple times, with help from Google, managed to get it to be the default when I "python" on the command line.

pip3 install planetary-system-stacker - apparently worked.

 

trying to run PlanetarySystemStacker gives a long wait then a bunch of errors, which seem to have this as the root cause:

 

- ModuleNotFoundError: No module named 'numpy.random.bit_generator'

 

Back to Google for this error, here is one of many example posts: https://github.com/s...y/issues/14541 

 

Does not look hopeful.

 

Any thoughts? 

 

>>>UPDATE<<<

 

I joined the German language forum. Looks like Python 3.9 is not guaranteed to work. Looking into downgrading to Python 3.8.


Edited by DJL, 18 September 2021 - 06:09 PM.


#275 Lead_Weight

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Posted 18 September 2021 - 05:43 PM

Ok (not, sigh):

 

Installed Homebrew

Reinstalled python3 multiple times, with help from google, managed to get it to be the default when I "python" on the command line.

pip3 install planetary-system-stacker - apparently worked.

 

trying to run PlanetarySystemStacker gives a long wait then a bunch of errors, which seem to have this as the root cause:

 

- ModuleNotFoundError: No module named 'numpy.random.bit_generator'

 

Back to Google for this error, here is one of many example posts: https://github.com/s...y/issues/14541 

 

Does not look hopeful.

 

Any thoughts? 

There's a thread specific to Planetary System Stacker and any install issues, this is the best place to troubleshoot it. Rolf, the developer, usually chimes in there.


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