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My rant on SGP, why not use handset instead?

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#1 Ballyhoo

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Posted 23 August 2019 - 12:38 AM

I realize I could get a lot of flak for this post, but let's face it , no one product, or way of doing things is going to be good for everyone. As wonderful as SGP is, I don't know, I played around with SGP for two trial periods, and I feel that for how I like to do things, it was overly complex and I did not end up buying it.  OMG all the sequences and equipment profiles, and the dozens of various features I felt were too much for me -- when for example I can just use Nebulosity for a simpler, point and shoot experience.  That being said I have that void of the plate-solve feature that SGP has (and I know about NINA but I fear it is another gazillion feature interfaces that I do not want to have to learn). So with respect to plate solving, I would think a big benefit of SGP is managing the plate-solve is so that one can continue an integration on subsequent sessions and handle meridian flips with the continued integration --  plus I am sure for the folks that love the computer to manage everything it will do all that. Sigh --- I just like simple interfaces and that is why for capturing I will probably just remain with Nebulosity for the foreseeable future.  What does SGP do (besides controlling ancillary hardware like auto focusing, or integrating from a remote location) that a handset can't do? For example, I may be naive here, but if you want to continue an integration on subsequent evenings, can't you just store your object as you have it in your integration in your handset,  and make sure that your equipment configuration remains consistent and use the handset memory? Now I have not tried that per say too much, but I am wondering (and I will test this) when you store an object in your handset, doesn't matter where you are in the sky you are just recording the coordinates, should that be good enough to get one to continue with the integrations on the subsequent nights?

 

Otherwise what am I missing about plate-solving and SGP like applications? Because I am beginning to think I might never need those critical programs. - and what will I be losing out? Can I advance in this without them? Why would I need to store a list of sequences? I understand a lot of people are better organized than I, and I do not do things like color coordinate shirts, ties, shoes, etc rather I just kind of put my pants on the left of my closet and shirts on the right, maybe I am not the super-organized type of person that would ever click with SGP or even Nina. That being said, that handset might get me where I want to go for extended  integrations.  Maybe I am just missing that "aha moment," that comes with certain monumental things and more time and experience will get me there. will see I guess. But it did dawn on me tonight that I should be able to record my exact location on my handset and continue integrating on a different night, so long as I orient my sensor the same way relative to lens of my telescope. Am I missing some bigger picture here?

Thank you


Edited by Ballyhoo, 23 August 2019 - 02:35 AM.


#2 ZL4PLM

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Posted 23 August 2019 - 01:41 AM

there is so much in there that you are missing yes you're right

 

SGP id pay for just for the frame and mosaic tool - which is awesome to create multi pane targets

 

why the equipment profiles ? well I have a SV70 and 80 - a 102 and RC8 - all I can use with or without reducers - moonlite focusers etc - colour cameras and mono cameras - L-ehance filters or non, CGX CEM40 and CEM60 mounts - all of these create a multitude of varying focal lengths and equipment connection setups - with SGP I can set them up once and simply choose the setup I want - SV70 with reducer on the CEM40 - got it - 102 with reducer on the CEM60 and mono - done, 102 with flattener and L-enhance and OSC - its there no messing .- and framing tool takes care of that with a variety of targets stored - so I can swop from emission nebula or reflection simply just by choosing the right target stored away in the Eagle in SGP.

 

and thats stretches into imaging sessions - I go to bed not baby sit my mount - and while you might be able to get close to the same co-ordinates - with platesolve 2 and the ability to rotate my camera - no problem

 

SGP allows me to totally automate a run - guiding capture, merdian flips, autofocus and filter/camera control, rotator control - its all there and when imaging I can see whats happening and when - whats guiding like - is the camera holding temperature - whats the star FWHM look like over time - is seeing still holding - whens the meridian flip - whens the next auto focus - what did the V curves look like, whens the next filter change - when it does it will check focus again....  

 

can't do any of that with a handset ....

 

so if you're interested in doing one target with on set up and mess with all that setting up each time then sure you don't need SGP - sure - want it repeatable quick simple easy then its worth looking at - its not complicated but needs work to setup - the result is faster, simpler automated imaging and allows me to sleep while SGP runs the shop.

 

if you get an obs you can go one step further and have it close up shop if the weather gets cloudy or it looses star lock on PHD2

 

its a LOT more than just a storage system for profiles 

 

I'd not be without it - I tried NINA - its not there yet but its coming - need something simple use sharpcap or something - personally having automated the capture and control I get nights of sleep now vs worrying what the mount/cameras are doing 


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#3 Becomart

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Posted 23 August 2019 - 02:06 AM

It boils down to ‘you get out what you put in’. Don’t want to learn it, fine. Other routes are available (though good luck trying to frame the same image on subsequent nights without plate solving). Mozart had 6,000 hours invested in the piano before the age of 5 - the genius didn’t just happen. He had to work at it. Anyone producing good images on this forum has thousands of hours invested in this learning, making mistakes, problem solving, frustrating nights when nothing went right, silly errors made such as forgetting about the bahtinov mask, etc. I personally have 5 years invested in this - each image I do gets better but still plenty of room for improvement. The learning doesn’t stop at capture - Processing is infinitely more difficult than capture so it might be time to ask yourself - do you enjoy this enough or is it time to find a new hobby?


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#4 Ballyhoo

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Posted 23 August 2019 - 02:20 AM

But do things have to get more complicated for me? Can't things be simple? It  just seems very complex.



#5 Ballyhoo

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Posted 23 August 2019 - 02:29 AM

- do you enjoy this enough or is it time to find a new hobby?

I am sorry I do not understand the question?  If I do not enjoy seemingly complicated programs than I need to find another hobby?  

 

Well no doubt there is technology embedded in these programs that improve aspects of amateur astronomy, but everything is  cost benefit analyses and learnign SGP just seems so hard and for what benefit ?  I just have not sorted it all out yet. 



#6 Becomart

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Posted 23 August 2019 - 03:00 AM

I am sorry I do not understand the question?  If I do not enjoy seemingly complicated programs than I need to find another hobby?  

 

Well no doubt there is technology embedded in these programs that improve aspects of amateur astronomy, but everything is  cost benefit analyses and learnign SGP just seems so hard and for what benefit ?  I just have not sorted it all out yet. 

 

What is it that you want to achieve? Define what would be a success. Is it an amazing image, a 2hr stack, a quick photographic trawl through the skies. If you want the amazing image then yes, learning ‘complicated programs’ is going to be part of the journey. There isn’t a fast way of cutting the corners otherwise we’d be all doing it and posting up a lot more images. It takes time, patience, resilience and will. 



#7 terry59

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Posted 23 August 2019 - 06:08 AM

You really need a different hobby....unless this is all an act of course

 

wink.gif 


Edited by terry59, 23 August 2019 - 06:18 AM.

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#8 kathyastro

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Posted 23 August 2019 - 06:23 AM

If you don't want to run a session unattended, if you don't want to shoot multiple targets, if you don't want to shoot through multiple filters, if you don't mind manually refocusing as the temperature drops, if you don't mind having to crop large amounts of the edges of your image  when you combine frames from multiple sessions, then you don't need SGP.


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#9 spokeshave

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Posted 23 August 2019 - 06:33 AM

The benefit of SGP is its sequence planning and automation capabilities. If you want to be able to develop precisely-framed sequences that may involve multiple targets or mosaics over multiple sessions, and then have acquisition automated, including centering, focusing, filter changes, safety monitoring, sequence recovery, dome synchronization, notifications, etc., then SGP is an excellent package. If you attend all of your imaging sessions, don't care about automation including focusing manually, centering manually, etc. then there are no-cost acquisition packages that work fine, and you can do all of the mount management manually with the hand controller. 

 

So, if SGP isn't what you need, then fine. There's no need to rant against it because it has more features than you need. 

 

On a related note, this is a very technical and complex hobby and if one is to be successful at it, one must learn at least some of the complexity. Learning complex things typically takes significant effort. I am aware of no way to do lazy astrophotography - or at least good lazy astrophotography. 

 

One final note - your first sentence said that you expected to get "flak" for a "rant" against popular, powerful software that does more than you need. You clearly formulated your post with the intent to stir controversy - you stated that in your first sentence. A lot of people may perceive that as "trolling". Rather than ranting over software that has more features than you need, why not just use software that better suits your needs?

 

Tim


Edited by spokeshave, 23 August 2019 - 07:04 AM.

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#10 WadeH237

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Posted 23 August 2019 - 08:03 AM

What does SGP do (besides controlling ancillary hardware like auto focusing, or integrating from a remote location) that a handset can't do?

It can be there, running your gear, when you are not.  This is pure gold.

 

But do things have to get more complicated for me? Can't things be simple? It  just seems very complex.

SGP is not complex.  It's actually really straightforward.  I've never even read the documentation (other than the occasional glance at the help file for specifics on a setting).

 

It only seems complex because you don't understand what all it's doing, and how it's doing it.  This is something that I've said over and over again.  You would seriously benefit from slowing down and actually learning each part of the process.  Taken one piece at a time, it's not hard - but there are a lot of pieces, and problems with any of them can affect your success.

 

If I do not enjoy seemingly complicated programs than I need to find another hobby?

If you are looking for a simple activity, where you can get a high level of satisfaction with minimal intellectual investment, this is not it.  And frankly, I would not be doing it, if it were.

 

If you're feeling frustrated, perhaps it's a good time to take a break.  I would suggest not bailing out and selling equipment.  Just put the gear away and do something else for a while.  I know that you have a decent sized dob, so maybe you should just enjoy some relaxing visual astronomy for a while.

 

Or do something completely different.  I've been a "car guy" for my entire adult life, and have owned more cars than most people here own telescopes (really).  Between that, and a three-plus decade career in software engineering, with the associated sitting time, I had a health scare a few years ago and needed to make a change.  Knowing myself, I knew that I would never do exercise for exercise sake. I hung up the car keys and bought an ebike to use as my primary commuting vehicle.  I have a 15 mile commute each direction, with some significant hills.  At the time, I would never have been able to manage the hills, but the ebike made up the difference.  I would never have guessed how much it would enrich my life.  I lost 60 lb of fat in the first 6 months.  After less than a year, I was strong enough to put away the ebike and switch to a conventional road bike (and a gravel bike in the winter).  I put about 20 lb back on, but it's all lean muscle.  I'm in my mid 50s, and am quite literally in the best shape of my life.  I'm healthier now than I ever was in high school.

 

My point is that there are other activities out there that have different levels of mental and physical engagement.  If what you're doing now isn't working, change it up and try something else.

 

If you go a year or two without missing astrophotography, then consider giving it up.  


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#11 OldManSky

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Posted 23 August 2019 - 09:55 AM

It boils down to ‘you get out what you put in’. Don’t want to learn it, fine. Other routes are available (though good luck trying to frame the same image on subsequent nights without plate solving).

I used to do (many years ago, on an AP900 mount) multi-night and mosaic imaging without plate solving.  It's certainly possible.

But plate solving makes it so much simpler and more accurate, I can't imagine having done it both ways why you would NOT use plate solving!

Yes, there's a learning curve with new software.  But learning it makes things like multi-night imaging and mosaics EASIER.  Not more complex.



#12 Midnight Dan

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Posted 23 August 2019 - 10:07 AM

I agree with you about SGP being overly complex.  The user interface could certainly use an overhaul to make it more intuitive.

 

But, it does the job and does it well.  Tons of features to cover any scenario.  I own it, grumble about the UI, but have learned it over time and am fairly happy with it.

 

However, there are lots of people in this hobby with different needs, different levels of expertise, and different levels of tolerance for complexity.  I don't think SGP is for everyone.  There are simpler applications and if you don't need everything SGP offers, maybe one of those are better.  

 

You mentioned NINA as still being too complex.  My brief look at it seems to place it as less intimidating and complex than SGP, but still does a lot of what SGP does.  Plus, it's free!  I would give that a more serious look.

 

-Dan


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#13 SilverLitz

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Posted 23 August 2019 - 10:17 AM

I am also a beginner, and I have not yet trialed SGP.  I was meaning to try it, but I was out of commission for 7 mos after being hit by a car.

 

I have tried APT (demo version), and I found it pretty easy to use.  I have heard folks say APT is as easy to use as BYE, but much more powerful.  APT has platesolving capability, which I have used successfully from the beginning.  You have to install PlateSolve2 and its databases separately, and you have to input into APT your scope's FL.  From what I have read, APT does NOT have all the functionality of SGP.  I cannot set APT to run all night and shut itself down, and its pier flip functionality does not always completely  work.  I have never tried to have APT do an automated pier flip; I always trigger the flips manually.

 

I am going to try NINA next.



#14 nimitz69

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Posted 23 August 2019 - 10:54 AM

Before you go any further you need to take a serious inward look and ask yourself one simple question:
 
why are you interested in AP?
 
In other words, what are you trying to accomplish by participating in AP??
 
If you can be brutally honest with yourself then many of the questions you pose will have straight forward answers..  From your Posts your personality seems to be one that does not enjoy diving into the minute details of things but rather, just plug things in, turn them on and have them do whatever it is that the product marketing said it would do.  You also don’t seem to enjoy learning about things that are complex & not necessarily intuitive. Unfortunately, theses things can be a large part of AP.  many people get Into this specifically because it is complex & challenging to do well.  However, I don’t think all Those elements are mandatory but they do tend to make AP less labor intensive once you learn how to exploit the Power inherent in them.  Take plate solving.
 
you don’t need plate solving to take amazing images but it does make the process of image Capture less labor intensive  and less time consuming - after you spend some effort to really understand & learn it ....
 
Auto guiding?  It’s not mandatory.  If you live in LP skies you are probably swamping read noise with subs under 2 mins and if you can PA Your mount you should be  able to do 60-90 sec subs without guiding - simple & cheaper.
 
The list goes on and on but in order for this to work you need to answer that first question honestly.
 
Are you missing out on things by not using SGP?  Absolutely.   But you may not want or need any of those features.

Edited by nimitz69, 23 August 2019 - 01:10 PM.

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#15 2ghouls

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Posted 23 August 2019 - 10:57 AM

Questions answered in red

What does SGP do (besides controlling ancillary hardware like auto focusing, or integrating from a remote location) that a handset can't do? Keeps track of your progress, wizards for framing/mosaics and flats calibration, and perhaps most importantly sends the DITHER command to PHD2 between subs For example, I may be naive here, but if you want to continue an integration on subsequent evenings, can't you just store your object as you have it in your integration in your handset,  and make sure that your equipment configuration remains consistent and use the handset memory? Yes, but it won't be as reliable/consistent/precise. If it's easier for you though, go for it. Now I have not tried that per say too much, but I am wondering (and I will test this) when you store an object in your handset, doesn't matter where you are in the sky you are just recording the coordinates, should that be good enough to get one to continue with the integrations on the subsequent nights?Like many of your "good enough" questions, it is completely subjective. I used to not use plate solving. Now I do, and I would NEVER go back to not using it because I like how precise it is. (for me, it is also faster than normal GO TO star alignment methods) That precision means I can do mosaics much easier and also not have to crop as much due to frame misalignment between nights. If this level of precision is not needed for your style of imaging, then you may be happy with the HC.

Otherwise what am I missing about plate-solving and SGP like applications? Because I am beginning to think I might never need those critical programs. - and what will I be losing out? If you want to do more complicated imaging projects, if you get a mono cam+ filters, mosaics, etc. you might see the benefits of these programs more. Can I advance in this without them? Of course Why would I need to store a list of sequences? Don't really understand the question. You can keep track of your progress on multiple objects and then come back to them when conditions are right. Even over the course of years. I understand a lot of people are better organized than I, and I do not do things like color coordinate shirts, ties, shoes, etc rather I just kind of put my pants on the left of my closet and shirts on the right, maybe I am not the super-organized type of person that would ever click with SGP or even Nina. That being said, that handset might get me where I want to go for extended  integrations.  Maybe I am just missing that "aha moment," that comes with certain monumental things and more time and experience will get me there. will see I guess. But it did dawn on me tonight that I should be able to record my exact location on my handset and continue integrating on a different night, so long as I orient my sensor the same way relative to lens of my telescope. Am I missing some bigger picture here? I don't think so. My guess is none of my answers will surprise you.

Thank you

Edit: just saw you plan to use Nebulosity. I don't know much about that program, but I am sure it can coordinate dithering with PHD2 since Craig Stark wrote both programs. So as long as you are dithering and you have all your equipment working well, then you can certainly improve a lot by just getting longer integrations, and learning more about post-processing. No need to learn SGP right now if you aren't seeing the benefits.

Cheers, Nico


Edited by 2ghouls, 23 August 2019 - 11:03 AM.

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#16 Ballyhoo

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Posted 23 August 2019 - 11:01 AM

I think maybe what happened in my case is I have been also busy learning a lot of other stuff. For example, there is a boat-load to learn in PI. But I have not had the light-bulb moment on what the investment of learning the program will provide me. Mosaics are mentioned, but I am not at a place to start on that.  Could it be that SGP is for year two, and I am still in year one?

 

And to be fair I do not know enough about Nina..

 

 

And to this:

I"f you go a year or two without missing astrophotography, then consider giving it up."

 

I miss AP after a day or two.


Edited by Ballyhoo, 23 August 2019 - 11:02 AM.


#17 JamesTX

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Posted 23 August 2019 - 11:04 AM

This is a hobby.  The moment it turns into work and ceases being fun, its not a hobby. 

 

Also.. there's no free lunch. 

 

Doesn't this apply to life in general?  Career, Schooling, just about any other hobby, etc, etc?

 

Its just a matter of how deep you want to go and set your expectations. 

 

For me, the learning curve for SGP was a little steep.. but really wasn't that bad.  Once I got comfortable with it, its become second nature. 


Edited by JamesTX, 23 August 2019 - 11:05 AM.


#18 Ballyhoo

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Posted 23 August 2019 - 11:05 AM

I bet I will  come full circle and reading all of the responses will make me understand and come back on the SGP train -- it is just that the cost benefit is a bit vague (less so now reading some responses), 

 

 

EDIT

 

ALSO LET US PLEASE NOT MAKE THIS AN EXISTENTIAL TOPIC:  "EITHER SGP OR CONSIDER FINDING A DIFFERENT HOBBY."   I THINK THAT HAS BEEN IMPLIED IN SOME RESPONSES AND I AM NOT SURE THAT IS FAIR. i AM SURE ONE CAN HAVE A WONDERFUL AP EXPERIENCE WITHOUT IT. 


Edited by Ballyhoo, 23 August 2019 - 11:10 AM.


#19 bmhjr

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Posted 23 August 2019 - 11:09 AM

If you don't think you need something, then you probably don't need it.  When I purchase new gear, new software or learn a new processing technique it is because I am trying to accomplish a specific task.  I don't just invest time or money into something because someone said I need it or it seems popular.  So, if you don't know what it is you are trying to accomplish with PI or SGP or whatever, than it is perfectly fine to not worry about it until you may see a need for it later.



#20 JamesTX

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Posted 23 August 2019 - 11:16 AM

I bet I will  come full circle and reading all of the responses will make me understand and come back on the SGP train -- it is just that the cost benefit is a bit vague (less so now reading some responses), 

 

 

EDIT

 

ALSO LET US PLEASE NOT MAKE THIS AN EXISTENTIAL TOPIC:  "EITHER SGP OR CONSIDER FINDING A DIFFERENT HOBBY."   I THINK THAT HAS BEEN IMPLIED IN SOME RESPONSES AND I AM NOT SURE THAT IS FAIR. i AM SURE ONE CAN HAVE A WONDERFUL AP EXPERIENCE WITHOUT IT. 

You dont need SGP for this hobby.  I think the reaction some are taking is saying its too complex.  It's a complex hobby.. with or without sgp.  I believe that's the point they were making.

 

My point was that enjoyment is a key part.  If you don't wan't to use a program like sgp you dont have to.  You don't even need a go-to mount.  Kick back with a eq mount with clock drive, star hop to your target, and use a dslr.  Lots of people do that and get great results.  The expectation part is that don't expect to get APOD level stuff without going deeper.  That's all. 



#21 Scott1244

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Posted 23 August 2019 - 11:16 AM

It sounds like you want an ASIair. It's about as "plug and play" as you can get in this hobby. But you need to be using ZWO cameras or a DSLR. 

 

Otherwise look at NINA. It is almost as full featured as SGP, but light years easier to understand and use.

No matter what, any of these take time and dedication to master. Put in the time and you will get better.


Edited by Scott1244, 23 August 2019 - 11:18 AM.


#22 Ballyhoo

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Posted 23 August 2019 - 11:20 AM

It sounds like you want an ASIair. It's about as "plug and play" as you can get in this hobby. But you need to be using ZWO cameras or a DSLR. 

I have thought about this, but no, I like the resources that running Windows brings. 

 

#8 kind of answers it. Firstly, I do not have a fixed site setup. I have to setup and break down every session. I think that loses 50% of SGP bang right there. 

I Am not going to leave my setup unattended for longer than 30 minutes.



#23 BenKolt

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Posted 23 August 2019 - 11:24 AM

Ballyhoo, let me draw attention to one of your statements from your original post:

 

... Maybe I am just missing that "aha moment," that comes with certain monumental things and more time and experience will get me there. will see I guess...

 

As you spend more time imaging you'll naturally expand into wanting to accomplish more complicated things during the night, likely under increasing amounts of automation so that you can get your sleep.  I predict you'll indeed have these little "aha" moments along the way that will drive you to using software with more and more features, which, at this moment, it sounds like you don't want or need.  Don't sweat it.

 

Nebulosity is a fine program that I used when I started out in this hobby. I eventually wanted plate solving, meridian flips, etc., and SGP was the new kid on the block at the time.  Today there are even more excellent acquisition programs available, most under very active development and improvement.

 

You'll experience those "aha" moments and act accordingly.  Don't sweat it.

 

Best Regards,

Ben

 

 


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#24 Scott1244

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Posted 23 August 2019 - 11:37 AM

I have thought about this, but no, I like the resources that running Windows brings. 

 

#8 kind of answers it. Firstly, I do not have a fixed site setup. I have to setup and break down every session. I think that loses 50% of SGP bang right there. 

I Am not going to leave my setup unattended for longer than 30 minutes.

You want the resources that Windows brings, but you don't want to take the time to learn any of the software that utilizes all of the resources that Windows brings?

 

OK. Good luck.



#25 Ballyhoo

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Posted 23 August 2019 - 11:43 AM

You want the resources that Windows brings, but you don't want to take the time to learn any of the software that utilizes all of the resources that Windows brings?

 

OK. Good luck.

I am sorry, you mean SGP, or "any" as in all software? 

 

I ask you to read #23. I think that sums it up. 

 

 

Edit, 

 

remember, I am not at a fixed site. How many of you use SGP but are like me and need to set and break down each session? Because I am wondering whether that is the thing, if you have a fixed site, or a remote site, automation is more practical. 


Edited by Ballyhoo, 23 August 2019 - 11:48 AM.



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