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Is there a simple way to use plate solving?

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#1 skycamper

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Posted 13 February 2018 - 12:27 PM

Im starting to think that if I learned how to plate solve that it would improve my imaging. In general Ive struggled with astrophotography despite having decent equipment such as feathertouch focusers and triplet refractors.  Im not great with processing and computers which is why I use DSS and sometimes you see my stacked Tiff file here for others to process which I appreciate.  Im about to go to a dark site and thought I would try plate solving.

 

I currently have a belt modded NEQ6 with upgraded wedge, BYN, I freshly downloaded the ASCOM plateform 6.3, EQMOD, and the driver for Synscan mounts, I also downloaded CDC planetarium program in case its easier than dealing with stellarium and stellarium scope controller which I also downloaded.    I plan to use phd2 for guiding and sharpcap 2.9 for polar alignment which has worked well for me.  

 

I also have SGP and a pole master but have never used them.

 

I started reading this tutorial on Astrotortilla and was overwhelmed. Is there an easier way or something more condensed??

http://www.lightvort...te-solving.html

 

I have the following scopes and cameras

SV115T  and a C11. I use a Nikon D5300 for imaging and a ASI290 mini for guiding with a 50mm guiding which has been ok and a OAG for the C11 which Ive not successfully done yet.

 

With this is mind does anyone have a condensed or simplified procedure on using Astrotortilla with BYN/BYEOS.   I know I have to use the USB to DB9 connector to directly control the mount to use EQMOD and connect through stellarium scope or CDC.  Ive never done it before alothough youtube is filled with those videos.

 

Any suggestions on the procedure to make all this work together would be appreciated.  Especially how to connect astrotortilla to BYN and which star maps it needs, what check boxes need checking.  

 

Ive just had a hard time figuring this out and need some pointers.  

Thanks

 

 



#2 NMCN

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Posted 13 February 2018 - 12:34 PM

The tutorial you linked seems overwhelming at first, but read through it a couple of times and it starts to make sense.  Its the tutorial that I followed and plate solving with Astrotortilla and BYEOS works like a champ for me.


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#3 gcardona

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Posted 13 February 2018 - 12:47 PM

Plate solving is useful for fine-tuning your pointing and image centering. Is this what you're trying to do? I would suggest you fire up SGP and use its plate solving capabilities and practice before you go to a dark site, otherwise you will spend your whole night troubleshooting the plate solves. Not only that, SGP is quite a handful to learn by itself, without putting in the plate solves. I guess the question is what are you trying to achieve with plate solves?


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#4 bobzeq25

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Posted 13 February 2018 - 01:54 PM

I use PlateSolve2.  Modest setup, absolutely trivial to use.  No planetarium program necessary.

 

Setup.  You can use either catalog.  You need your field of view, +/-5% is plenty good enough.

 

Use.  You need to be within a degree or three of your target, it's not a blind solver.  Most any mediocre GOTO is "good enough" the target need not be in the FOV.  Snap an image, load it into PS2, add the FOV and the coordinates you're looking for.  Hit solve.  Done.

 

The closer you are to the target to start, the faster it works.

 

I then use my iOptron hand controller to correct between where I want to be pointed, and where I actually am pointed.  Not going 180 degrees the wrong way is the hardest part.  I no longer have to iterate the process, once is enough to put the target in the FOV, then it's just framing.

 

SGP automates the process.  There's no need for a planetarium program, it can help a little, but adds significant complication.  I don't bother with one, since I almost always am just doing one target/night.

 

I now do it remotely from the comfort of my home.  I use TeamViewer to remote into the laptop, once again, easy to setup, trivial to use.  I did have a get a wifi booster for a reliable connection.


Edited by bobzeq25, 13 February 2018 - 02:05 PM.

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#5 cfosterstars

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Posted 13 February 2018 - 01:57 PM

Im starting to think that if I learned how to plate solve that it would improve my imaging. In general Ive struggled with astrophotography despite having decent equipment such as feathertouch focusers and triplet refractors.  Im not great with processing and computers which is why I use DSS and sometimes you see my stacked Tiff file here for others to process which I appreciate.  Im about to go to a dark site and thought I would try plate solving.

 

I currently have a belt modded NEQ6 with upgraded wedge, BYN, I freshly downloaded the ASCOM plateform 6.3, EQMOD, and the driver for Synscan mounts, I also downloaded CDC planetarium program in case its easier than dealing with stellarium and stellarium scope controller which I also downloaded.    I plan to use phd2 for guiding and sharpcap 2.9 for polar alignment which has worked well for me.  

 

I also have SGP and a pole master but have never used them.

 

I started reading this tutorial on Astrotortilla and was overwhelmed. Is there an easier way or something more condensed??

http://www.lightvort...te-solving.html

 

I have the following scopes and cameras

SV115T  and a C11. I use a Nikon D5300 for imaging and a ASI290 mini for guiding with a 50mm guiding which has been ok and a OAG for the C11 which Ive not successfully done yet.

 

With this is mind does anyone have a condensed or simplified procedure on using Astrotortilla with BYN/BYEOS.   I know I have to use the USB to DB9 connector to directly control the mount to use EQMOD and connect through stellarium scope or CDC.  Ive never done it before alothough youtube is filled with those videos.

 

Any suggestions on the procedure to make all this work together would be appreciated.  Especially how to connect astrotortilla to BYN and which star maps it needs, what check boxes need checking.  

 

Ive just had a hard time figuring this out and need some pointers.  

Thanks

 

Plate solving is useful for fine-tuning your pointing and image centering. Is this what you're trying to do? I would suggest you fire up SGP and use its plate solving capabilities and practice before you go to a dark site, otherwise you will spend your whole night troubleshooting the plate solves. Not only that, SGP is quite a handful to learn by itself, without putting in the plate solves. I guess the question is what are you trying to achieve with plate solves?

I have a HDX110 EQ-G a.k.a. EQ8. I used some of the software you are using. I have now fully automated my rig using Sequence Generator Pro. I used to use BYEOS expensively and tried at least 4 times to get Astrotortilla to work for plate solving with no success. Other have done so, but not me. After a while, I just gave up and payed for a Pinpoint license. I then migrated to SGP, EQMOD, CdC and PHD2 and have never looked back. If you go with SGP, then you can used the online plate solve using astonometry.net or the built in planewave-published platesolve2 with no added cost than SGP license. SGP is marvelous. I can uncover my scope and be fully aligned and imaging in 15 minute. If I need to tweek my PA, I use PHD2 drift most of the time. I have a polemaster camera and it works well, but since I dont tear down, I rarely need it.

 

With SGP, it uses plate solve to set the reference for the scope with one simple slew to with CdC and a plate solve. Then SGP will automatically frame center and refine the target and tell me how much to rotate my camera based on the imaging that I want to do. the frame and focus and targeting wizards are great. I am now doing mosaics and multi target in a single night while I sleep depending on the weather. 

 

I published a lot of threads on everything I did to get my EQ8 going with the EQMOD. I never use the hand controller. I am about to mount a mini PC on the rig and do everything remotely by login.

 

HEre are some links to some of my threads. I tried to put  links in the threads to guide the reader to other threads:

 

https://www.cloudyni...up-and-testing/

 

https://www.cloudyni...rmance-testing/

 

https://www.cloudyni...-configuration/

 

Since you have a EQ-6 a lot of the stuff I needed to do on my EQ-8 is the same.


Edited by cfosterstars, 13 February 2018 - 02:02 PM.

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#6 darkstar3d

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Posted 13 February 2018 - 03:36 PM

Use SGP for plate solving and Plate Solve 2 that Bob mentioned as the engine. It is far easier than Astrotortilla and you won’t lose any hairs. Lol


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#7 bobzeq25

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Posted 13 February 2018 - 05:30 PM

Use SGP for plate solving and Plate Solve 2 that Bob mentioned as the engine. It is far easier than Astrotortilla and you won’t lose any hairs. Lol


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+1, except.  I think doing it manually first can help build your knowledge base, and expose issues.


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#8 darkstar3d

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Posted 13 February 2018 - 05:35 PM

Use SGP for plate solving and Plate Solve 2 that Bob mentioned as the engine. It is far easier than Astrotortilla and you won’t lose any hairs. Lol


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+1, except. I think doing it manually first can help build your knowledge base, and expose issues.
I agree that it can be an excellent teacher. I learned more about Cygwin that I ever wanted to know. Yet, the other laptop had no issues with it. :) And I like Linux.


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#9 skycamper

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Posted 13 February 2018 - 07:40 PM

My reason for wanting to plate solve is to center targets and just rotate my camera to my liking.  I'm terrible at framing and understanding a push button move on my controller to better center my target. ...and then all of a sudden I'm even more off center because I didn't write down as a note to myself (pushing up moves target left on screen, push down and object moves right.)  

 

Would plate solving do away with that??  I know u guys have been here haha!!  I would just hate to continually repeat this procedure which is the definition of insanity

 

Bob and darkstar, ...what do u mean manually ?  Can u say that another way?  Somhow brain not registering.  

Thanks everyone.  Maybe I'll stick to what I know until I get back from dark sky land........Sunriver Oregon.  



#10 darkstar3d

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Posted 13 February 2018 - 07:55 PM

Plate solving would do away with that. By manual, we mean Astrotortilla. You have to choose the exposures, set up the FOVs, etc., etc. With SGP, you enter your focal length and camera pixel size, and it goes to work. Then you do your framing without taking pictures and build your sequence. With AT, you take pictures until you get the scope where you want it. It puts the coordinate at the center, but you have to decide how to frame it. With SGP, you can do your framing in advance.



#11 Alex McConahay

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Posted 13 February 2018 - 08:32 PM

>>>>>>to center targets and just rotate my camera to my liking

 

Yeah, that is what Plate solvers, and their related software do. With SGP, you can take a picture of the area, and then click on something in the picture, and tell it to "Center Here." This helps a lot with composition and such if you do not want the object dead in the middle, or if the "coordinates" of the object are not what you would consider the middle visually. And, of course, you can then rotate the camera to your heart's content. 

 

Alex



#12 bobzeq25

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Posted 13 February 2018 - 11:55 PM

My reason for wanting to plate solve is to center targets and just rotate my camera to my liking.  I'm terrible at framing and understanding a push button move on my controller to better center my target. ...and then all of a sudden I'm even more off center because I didn't write down as a note to myself (pushing up moves target left on screen, push down and object moves right.)  

 

Would plate solving do away with that??  I know u guys have been here haha!!  I would just hate to continually repeat this procedure which is the definition of insanity

 

Bob and darkstar, ...what do u mean manually ?  Can u say that another way?  Somhow brain not registering.  

Thanks everyone.  Maybe I'll stick to what I know until I get back from dark sky land........Sunriver Oregon.  

Platesolving will do _exactly_ that, and easily.  By manually I do _not_ mean Astrotortilla, I do _not_ mean SGP.  I mean precisely this.  It's hard to understand this in the abstract without having PlateSolve2 in front of you on the screen, and actually doing it.  Which is easy.  So do it first.  Like:

 

Download and install PlateSolve2 and a catalog, either one.  Find a jpg of a DSO, anything.  You'll need the approximate field of view, you can get this from many images in many places.  Load it into PS2.

 

You can use the one below.  It's M15.  The field of view is 45 minutes X 30 minutes.  Click on the image, a SAVE box will appear lower right.

 

Enter the RA and DEC of the object into PS2.  Just use the first four digits of RA, the first two of DEC, so PS2 has something to change a bit.  For example M15 would be RA 21 30  DEC 12.   Hit Plate Match.

 

Bam, there the _exact_ location is, to eight (count 'em eight) figures.

 

Then, try it in real life.  Point the telescope roughly using GOTO (doesn't have to be very good, the default sky model in my CEM60 works well enough, I do not star align), and take an image.

 

Open that image in PlateSolve2.  Enter the RA and DEC you want to be at in PS2 (the hand controller automatically displays that, part of GOTO), and the approximate field of view of the camera.  Hit Plate Match.  If you're not close, it takes a while, then tells you _exactly_ where you're pointed

 

Now figure the difference between where you are, and where you want to be.  Using the hand controller move the mount that amount.  The hard part is figuring out whether to go up or down, left or right. 

 

Example.  The target DEC is +45 degrees.  PS2 says you're at at +44.  RA is correct.  You're a degree too far S.  Move the scope with the hand controller one degree N.

 

Take an image.  Bam, there the target is.

 

It's _exactly_ what you want.  The software is trivial to set up and use.  The hand controller tells you which way you're going.  It's much easier than moving the target visually, it's just simple math.

 

Honestly, it's easier than you think.  Easier than some answers here have made it look.  People tend to express their knowledge and tell you more than you need to know.

 

As they say, just try it.  It just works, easy.

 

Minor point.  Platesolve2 only eats jpgs or fits, not RAW.

 

M15-version B.jpg


Edited by bobzeq25, 14 February 2018 - 01:27 AM.

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#13 17.5Dob

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Posted 14 February 2018 - 12:37 AM

I'm starting to think that if I learned how to plate solve that it would improve my imaging.

 

I currently have a belt modded NEQ6 with upgraded wedge, BYN, I freshly downloaded the ASCOM plateform 6.3, EQMOD, and the driver for Synscan mounts, I also downloaded CDC planetarium program in case its easier than dealing with stellarium and stellarium scope controller which I also downloaded.    I plan to use phd2 for guiding and sharpcap 2.9 for polar alignment which has worked well for me.  

I just posted this at another thread.

 

"I've never needed to plate solve. Heck, I can't even remember the last time I slewed to my target and had it more 5 min. off- center after doing a proper PA, with no star alignment at all !!

 

I don't even bother with star alignment any more. I do my PA, and just slew to my target. Then  frame, rotate and start shooting.

 

A good PA and an accurate home position goes a long way ! It takes me 30-45 min max, to assemble "everything" in the dark, starting from scratch at my dark site, until my my first sub starts shooting . "

 


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#14 skycamper

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Posted 14 February 2018 - 03:31 AM

Bob, I was with you right up until here where you lost me!! 

 

"Now figure the difference between where you are, and where you want to be.  Using the hand controller move the mount that amount.  The hard part is figuring out whether to go up or down, left or right.

Example.  The target DEC is +45 degrees.  PS2 says you're at at +44.  RA is correct.  You're a degree too far S.  Move the scope with the hand controller one degree N.

 

I thought after downloading the catalog and setting up the software, point to a location close to my target,  the plate solve a jpeg,  the plate solve not centers my target.  The above statement killed my buzz cause I thought I was done!!! 

 

But your explanation on what to do seems straight  forward enough.  



#15 skycamper

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Posted 14 February 2018 - 03:38 AM

 

I'm starting to think that if I learned how to plate solve that it would improve my imaging.

 

I currently have a belt modded NEQ6 with upgraded wedge, BYN, I freshly downloaded the ASCOM plateform 6.3, EQMOD, and the driver for Synscan mounts, I also downloaded CDC planetarium program in case its easier than dealing with stellarium and stellarium scope controller which I also downloaded.    I plan to use phd2 for guiding and sharpcap 2.9 for polar alignment which has worked well for me.  

I just posted this at another thread.

 

"I've never needed to plate solve. Heck, I can't even remember the last time I slewed to my target and had it more 5 min. off- center after doing a proper PA, with no star alignment at all !!

 

I don't even bother with star alignment any more. I do my PA, and just slew to my target. Then  frame, rotate and start shooting.

 

A good PA and an accurate home position goes a long way ! It takes me 30-45 min max, to assemble "everything" in the dark, starting from scratch at my dark site, until my my first sub starts shooting . "

 

 

Dave, I'm lost, I can do 1 or even 2 Min sometimes unguided at almost 2000mm with a sharp cap polar alignment but I can hardly get my home position to be exact with the NEQ6.   I'll take pointers on how to do that if anyone has a link?  Astronomy shed had a video on how to exactly set the home position by marking some index marks. I'll have to look that up again.  He used levels to help find and mark the mount which I tried and then the marks wore away and I forgot what I did....see how hard this is for me! !


Edited by skycamper, 14 February 2018 - 03:39 AM.


#16 bobzeq25

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Posted 14 February 2018 - 03:39 AM

Bob, I was with you right up until here where you lost me!! 

 

"Now figure the difference between where you are, and where you want to be.  Using the hand controller move the mount that amount.  The hard part is figuring out whether to go up or down, left or right.

Example.  The target DEC is +45 degrees.  PS2 says you're at at +44.  RA is correct.  You're a degree too far S.  Move the scope with the hand controller one degree N.

 

I thought after downloading the catalog and setting up the software, point to a location close to my target,  the plate solve a jpeg,  the plate solve not centers my target.  The above statement killed my buzz cause I thought I was done!!! 

 

But your explanation on what to do seems straight  forward enough.  

SGP does it all automatically.  But manual is pretty simple.  Do try it.


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#17 bobzeq25

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Posted 14 February 2018 - 09:51 AM

 

 

I'm starting to think that if I learned how to plate solve that it would improve my imaging.

 

I currently have a belt modded NEQ6 with upgraded wedge, BYN, I freshly downloaded the ASCOM plateform 6.3, EQMOD, and the driver for Synscan mounts, I also downloaded CDC planetarium program in case its easier than dealing with stellarium and stellarium scope controller which I also downloaded.    I plan to use phd2 for guiding and sharpcap 2.9 for polar alignment which has worked well for me.  

I just posted this at another thread.

 

"I've never needed to plate solve. Heck, I can't even remember the last time I slewed to my target and had it more 5 min. off- center after doing a proper PA, with no star alignment at all !!

 

I don't even bother with star alignment any more. I do my PA, and just slew to my target. Then  frame, rotate and start shooting.

 

A good PA and an accurate home position goes a long way ! It takes me 30-45 min max, to assemble "everything" in the dark, starting from scratch at my dark site, until my my first sub starts shooting . "

 

 

Dave, I'm lost, I can do 1 or even 2 Min sometimes unguided at almost 2000mm with a sharp cap polar alignment but I can hardly get my home position to be exact with the NEQ6.   I'll take pointers on how to do that if anyone has a link?  Astronomy shed had a video on how to exactly set the home position by marking some index marks. I'll have to look that up again.  He used levels to help find and mark the mount which I tried and then the marks wore away and I forgot what I did....see how hard this is for me! !

 

The only thing that matters for good tracking is good polar alignment.  I use a PoleMaster, it defines the word "easy".

 

As far as good home position goes (which only affects GOTO, not tracking), I just eyeball it.  Counterweight shaft pointing down, there are two screws on the DEC axis, one on the mount base, one on the moving part, that I line up.  That works well enough for me that a GOTO gets me close enough for PlateSolve2 to work.  Sometimes fast, sometimes takes a minute.

 

Bottom line.  If you can polar align well, and get PS2 to work, home position accuracy does not matter.


Edited by bobzeq25, 14 February 2018 - 09:53 AM.

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#18 Alex McConahay

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Posted 14 February 2018 - 11:26 AM

>>>>>>>>  I'm terrible at framing and understanding a push button move on my controller to better center my target. ...and then all of a sudden I'm even more off center because I didn't write down as a note to myself (pushing up moves target left on screen, push down and object moves right.)

 

Plate solving cannot help you alone. 

 

Plate Solving with session management software can do it. Session Management software like SGP, MaxIm, and such, takes a picture, calls the Plate Solver to analyze where the scope is pointing, moves the scope to where it should be, takes another picture, and so forth until it gets where you want the scope. If you have a rotator, it does that part also. If not, you have to manually rotate until you get what you want. 

 

If you know where your scope is pointing (your gotos are getting the object of your desire in the Field of View) and you want to do it "manually" the easiest way is to do it analog manually. Take a picture. If the object is in the field of view, but not where you want it, move it with your handpaddle. 

 

Ahhhhh---you say, you have trouble remembering which button does what. Understandable. We all have that problem. May I suggest you look in the manual for your handpaddle. You will notice that you can change the direction your buttons move the scope. East button can be swapped for West, North for South, and so forth. (Or at least in any scope I have ever had.) 

 

Set your slew rate to something reasonable. I do mine to 12x sidereal, but your mount may vary. Now, take a one to three second picture, binned 4x4 or whatever if you have binning, of your field. Push the "East" button. Take another picture and note which way your image moved. (All you need is one star visible in your pic.) Position your hand paddle such that if the picture moved to the right, the east button is to the right. (And if to the left, the east button is to the left.) Yes, your cord coming out the bottom of your hand paddle may be in a weird position, but it does not matter. Now, try the "North" button. And try another exposure. If your target star moved "up" and your North button is up---then you are ready. If the target moved down and North button is up, you can swap north for south buttons (or, just remember the reversal for the rest of your aiming). Now, keep the handpaddle in that position as you take images and adjust after each one. Up push moves the target up, down moves down, left is left, right is right. As you push the button, count (1mississippi, 2missippi, etc.) to keep your pushes a regulated time. With very little practice, you will find you can drive your target all around your sensor. If rotation is not what you want, simply rotate your camera and continue.  You may need to reorient your hand paddle. When you do a meridian flip, you will need to reorient the North/South buttons.  

 

This, I think, is much easier than trying to use a Plate Solver manually. But it does depend on you knowing that your mount can put an object in a Field of View. (not necessarily centered, but somewhere).

 

Alex 


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#19 bobzeq25

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Posted 14 February 2018 - 01:03 PM

 

Plate solving cannot help you alone.

 

...

 

This, I think, is much easier than trying to use a Plate Solver manually. But it does depend on you knowing that your mount can put an object in a Field of View. (not necessarily centered, but somewhere).

 

Alex 

Simply disagree.  I use it manually, it's easy, and it does exactly what is being requested.  When I do the initial GOTO, I'm completely unconcerned about whether the object is in the field of view.  Generally I just shoot long enough (usually binned) to get enough stars, I'm not even looking for the target (yet).

 

It's not at all the same thing as trying to do things visually, it's just numbers, and the hand controller helps you keep track of those.


Edited by bobzeq25, 14 February 2018 - 01:21 PM.


#20 gilbertgrape87

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Posted 15 February 2018 - 05:08 AM

+1 for platesolve 2. What I really liked about it was that when I was ironing out the links, it has a button on it that let's you look at the image it is analyzing and what "stars" it's using. It's process is very transparent with makes troubleshooting much easier.

#21 dciobota

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Posted 15 February 2018 - 01:48 PM

Just to throw another one out there, I personally find ASPS (AlllSky Plate Solver) the easiest one to use.  It can do blind solves reliably with very little setup information:

http://www.astrogb.c...ate_Solver.html

 

Even better, AstroPhotoTools, free software btw, integrates seamlessly with ASPS (it can also use PlateSolve 2 btw):

https://ideiki.com/a...ate_solving.htm

 

I use this all the time, without even doing a star alignment, just a decent polar alignment using SharpCap.

 

Hope this helps.


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#22 gbeaton

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Posted 15 February 2018 - 08:59 PM

Just to throw another one out there, I personally find ASPS (AlllSky Plate Solver) the easiest one to use.  It can do blind solves reliably with very little setup information:

http://www.astrogb.c...ate_Solver.html

 

Even better, AstroPhotoTools, free software btw, integrates seamlessly with ASPS (it can also use PlateSolve 2 btw):

https://ideiki.com/a...ate_solving.htm

 

I use this all the time, without even doing a star alignment, just a decent polar alignment using SharpCap.

 

Hope this helps.

I've used this one too. Works nicely.


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#23 t_image

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Posted 15 February 2018 - 11:45 PM

When I think "manual plate solving",

I think:

  • 1. take an image you have no clue what part of the sky it is of....
  • 2.if online, upload it to astrometry.net and see how it annotates the image
  • 3. or if offline, use astrotilla, upload image, then it reports the center coordinates of image.
  • 4. then open up Stellarium, search for an annotated object from astrometry, or enter center coordinates reported by astrotilla.
  • 5. compare image to Stellarium screen, and....there it is. I see how the frame is oriented, what object the image captured....etc.....

Since I shoot moving video across the sky, I can easily figure out where I was pointed at a particular time in the clip long after the fact,

with this method of plate solving.

And looking at the date and timestamp of the image, it's easy enough to shift Stellarium back in time to even find the alt/az.........


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#24 goodricke1

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Posted 16 February 2018 - 07:50 AM


  • 2.if online, upload it to astrometry.net and see how it annotates the image

 

Astrometry.net has been down for the last 18 hours it seems.



#25 t_image

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Posted 17 February 2018 - 08:51 AM

Astrometry.net has been down for the last 18 hours it seems.

nova.astrometry.net is up again!

But clearly a demonstration why an offline solution like astrotilla or the others mentioned is a good thing to have....


  • skycamper likes this


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