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Another NINA vs SGP topic

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#1 Ryou

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Posted 09 July 2020 - 12:01 AM

I know that there are other threads out there about this however a lot of them do seem older and as NINA is seemingly a relatively young program it's probably seen a lot of upgrades since then, I know there are some fairly vocal/devout users of each here I'm hoping for maybe some updated/more specific information on the differences between the two.

 

At first glance both NINA and SGP seem to be very very similar in what they do, various options, etc. I'm sure there are some things that SGP does that NINA doesn't, and vice versa, however it seems like for my current needs both are going to function very well for me so I'm really having a hard time deciding.

 

Honestly speaking I think my needs/wants atm are fairly simple:

  1. Framing/Mosaic help that includes camera rotation
  2. Sequencing that can do multiple panels in one night if I want/have time/setup right
  3. Mount control for the above (Needs platesolving)
  4. Filter Wheel control
  5. Good auto focus, preferably with temp control options
  6. Flat helper to set those exposures/control any flat panels I get down the road

Probably forgetting something there tbh, however I also feel like is a pretty complete feature list that would last awhile and anything I'm forgetting that may be a glaring thing would be covered anyways. Yet as mentioned I'm also not seeing anything there that really says "well NINA has much better X" or "this feature is only on SGP".

 

So what am I missing here and what currently is setting these two apart feature wise?



#2 kisstek

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Posted 09 July 2020 - 12:09 AM

 

So what am I missing here and what currently is setting these two apart feature wise?

How about "Works reliably and consistently"?

 

Right at the moment, neither APT (doesn't continue shooting after "resuming plan" after a flip) nor NINA ("Reference not set to an instant of an object" which is currently being blamed on the Celestron focuser ASCOM driver) is working reliably for me.

 

I'm going to have to buy a SGP license to see if maybe it'd work "reliably and consistently". I know: consistency is the crutch of a small mind!


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#3 Jim Waters

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Posted 09 July 2020 - 12:25 AM

"Works reliably and consistently"?  waytogo.gif Yes - this should be towards the top of the list.



#4 bobzeq25

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Posted 09 July 2020 - 12:28 AM

I know that there are other threads out there about this however a lot of them do seem older and as NINA is seemingly a relatively young program it's probably seen a lot of upgrades since then, I know there are some fairly vocal/devout users of each here I'm hoping for maybe some updated/more specific information on the differences between the two.

 

At first glance both NINA and SGP seem to be very very similar in what they do, various options, etc. I'm sure there are some things that SGP does that NINA doesn't, and vice versa, however it seems like for my current needs both are going to function very well for me so I'm really having a hard time deciding.

 

Honestly speaking I think my needs/wants atm are fairly simple:

  1. Framing/Mosaic help that includes camera rotation
  2. Sequencing that can do multiple panels in one night if I want/have time/setup right
  3. Mount control for the above (Needs platesolving)
  4. Filter Wheel control
  5. Good auto focus, preferably with temp control options
  6. Flat helper to set those exposures/control any flat panels I get down the road

Probably forgetting something there tbh, however I also feel like is a pretty complete feature list that would last awhile and anything I'm forgetting that may be a glaring thing would be covered anyways. Yet as mentioned I'm also not seeing anything there that really says "well NINA has much better X" or "this feature is only on SGP".

 

So what am I missing here and what currently is setting these two apart feature wise?

What you might be missing, based on your post language suggesting that they're comparable.  There are fairly large gaps in:  capability to do a lot of advanced operations, and, ease of use.  

 

SGP can do things that NINA can't (I can't think of anything that goes the other way), there's no point in arguing about this or that, people need to make individual choices about what they need.

 

I'd say there's a consensus that NINA is simpler to use, that's mostly just an outcome of the above.

 

For many people that will be all they need.  If you need something in SGP that NINA doesn't have, you get SGP.  If you don't, and are not worried that you will later, the greater simplicity of NINA will be very appealing.

 

I believe (personal opinion) they're really intended for two different audiences.

 

SGP is correspondingly more complicated.  Just a natural thing.

 

Of course, many people will start with one, and not want to switch, having learned it.

 

Other thing.  People who want "works reliably and consistently" should definitely look at Voyager.  Simply because that's a major goal of the developer.  By me, he's been successful at it.  There is some overhead between frames, as Voyager checks to see all is well.  Really mostly a problem for me, my C8RASA, my light polluted skies, and my 10 second subs.


Edited by bobzeq25, 09 July 2020 - 12:35 AM.

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#5 DSOs4Me

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Posted 09 July 2020 - 02:06 AM

NINA is free and easy to setup and use. Why not try it and if it doesn't hit all you needs buy SGP. I never owned SGP but most say that NINA has faster focusing.


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#6 Stelios

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Posted 09 July 2020 - 03:03 AM

I started off with SGP. I took a look at NINA and saw nothing that would make me want to switch, and some things that were personal turnoffs (like the Discord forum). 

 

To my mind, the "free" part is a non-event. Astrophotography is *SO* expensive, that $100 for acquisition software is amortized down to one or two pennies per session. If it gives me *one* night a year where I don't experience a problem which I might have with some other software, it's worth it. 

 

SGP is actually simple, but, like Pixinsight, it has its own logic. The thing that gets most people is the difference between profile on which the sequence is based, and the actual sequence itself. Being a programmer, it was natural to me-very similar to how it works with Word templates. But for some people this is not intuitive. They change something in the profile and assume it will change the sequence, or vice versa. The difference between template and instance can be confusing. 

 

Once you understand and internalize that, SGP is a piece of cake. I can't imagine there's anything you want to do that it can't do. It can certainly easily do ALL the items on your list, and more.

 

The biggest thing that I like in SGP and which N.I.N.A. doesn't have, is notifications. If something goes wrong, I can get a text alerting me. Or if it is time to rotate the camera, same thing. Also I prefer the SGP interface, but that may be because I'm used to it. 


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#7 yzhzhang

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Posted 09 July 2020 - 03:33 AM

  1. Framing/Mosaic help that includes camera rotation
  2. Sequencing that can do multiple panels in one night if I want/have time/setup right
  3. Mount control for the above (Needs platesolving)
  4. Filter Wheel control
  5. Good auto focus, preferably with temp control options
  6. Flat helper to set those exposures/control any flat panels I get down the road

I have tried NINA and I was a long term user of SGP, and now switched to Voyager. I think SGP is really a great software and can surely do what you want, but at this stage I would highly recommend you taking a look at Voyager, especially for your requirements #5 and #6.

 

For me Voyager wins at:

  • Fast & reliable autofocusing (applies to NB filters as well)
  • Nice UI (web dashboard)
  • Good flat routine, no need of your flat panel at all
  • Flexibility at orgaizing your image routine.
  • Also Voyager Array supports multi-scope imaging which I would like to try down the road but not yet.

Edited by yzhzhang, 09 July 2020 - 03:35 AM.


#8 Navige

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Posted 09 July 2020 - 06:19 AM

How about "Works reliably and consistently"?

Right at the moment, neither APT (doesn't continue shooting after "resuming plan" after a flip) nor NINA ("Reference not set to an instant of an object" which is currently being blamed on the Celestron focuser ASCOM driver) is working reliably for me.

I'm going to have to buy a SGP license to see if maybe it'd work "reliably and consistently". I know: consistency is the crutch of a small mind!


Have you tried using CPWI to control your mount? If you use the focuser USB port to connect to your computer it acts a USB bridge and I have had no problems with auto focusing this way using the cpwi ascom focuser driver. It also simplified my connections because I don’t have to connect to the hand controller on the mount plus the focuser.
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#9 Navige

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Posted 09 July 2020 - 06:26 AM

I have just started learning/using NINA in the last month and after initial struggles to configure my scope and plate solving correctly, I love it. I have used the mosaic build in framing assistant as well. My pier has a 1 hour view of the southern sky between 15-20 degrees so I can build sequences to capture the eagle nebula until the trifid or lagoon nebulas are clear from trees then go there and shoot til they hit trees again and then move to something in Cygnus for the rest of the night. I literally build my sequence, including centering, auto focusing, and guiding; hit play and make sure the first sequence starts then I go to bed and wake up to a whole nights worth of data.
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#10 Madratter

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Posted 09 July 2020 - 06:38 AM

Add another Voyager vote to the mix. "Works reliably and consistently" is the guiding principle for Voyager.

 

On top of that, it has what I believe to be the best focusing in the business. Period.

 

And it is an integrator. It concentrates on integrating well with the software it uses. For example, it helps pick the guide stars that will be used. It is just a really slick and professional piece of software.


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#11 happylimpet

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Posted 09 July 2020 - 06:57 AM

I couldn't get SGP to work, for reasons I could never understand. HOwever in the time I tried it, I established that:

 

a) it is very slow - download overheads were about 10 seconds, which is no use for the short subs i do

b) autofocus is awful - also doesnt like newtonian star doughnuts.

 

NINA is super fast (0.5 sec overhead) and has a focus routine that includes parabolic fitting (not crappy V curves) and works with newtonians. I gather SGP might do some of this now, but NINA does everything I want, reliably and fast - and free.


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#12 sn2006gy

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Posted 09 July 2020 - 07:24 AM

NINA all the way. Free is nice. I joined the patreon so free for me isn't about $$$, it's about freedom.  Open Source means i can dive in, poke around, use the software without regard for some company to dictate what i can or can't do. I can modify for myself - I can be a good community person and share those modifications with community by doing a PR and if they don't accept that PR, i can continue to use my branch and merge from upstream.  Open Source is awesome. More astronomy software should be less afraid of it. The world runs on open source...

 

As for functionality, NINA does what I need and i know the sequencer has some improvements coming and i'm happy to participate in the community, chats and feedback as that happens to continue to improve NINA and make it better.

 

NINA vs SGP isn't just a feature comparison or "it doesn't work on my mount" - It's closed commercial software vs Open Source software where YOU can choose to help make it better or YOU can choose to do nothing and pay for something else.


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#13 OldManSky

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Posted 09 July 2020 - 07:28 AM

Leaving Voyager out for a moment...

 

SGP has a bit more flexibility currently in things you can do during (and after) sequences.  None of the operations involved interest me -- they do interest others.  My pal TomK, for instance, has a very limited part of sky he can image in, so he needs to be able to set a particular time for a sequence to start and end (so it's in the open part of his sky).  SGP can do that.  NINA currently can't (you can only set a delay in seconds from when you click start on a sequence to when it ends).  NINA's sequencer is being reworked for the next version, and that (among many other things) will be forthcoming, but for now if that matters to you, NINA's not for you.

As Stelios noted, notifications are another SGP feature NINA doesn't have (when something goes wrong, or the guide star is lost, or...lots of things, SGP can email you, send you a text, etc.).  Again, that's coming for NINA, but it's not there yet, so if you need those (a big deal for remote observatory users), NINA isn't for you.

 

For me, NINA is perfect.  It's got a clean and easy to use interface, but that doesn't mean it's simple.  It runs my mount, 2 EAFs, camera (sometimes 2 cameras), filter wheel, guide camera, and interfaces with PHD2 seamlessly and without issues.  It's framing and mosaic "wizard" is absolutely wonderful (and IMHO beats SGP's hands-down).  It's built-in Sky Atlas means I don't usually have to run CdC or another "planetarium" program to get coordinates or search for objects.  It has the fastest and most reliable AF of any of the competitors.  It doesn't wait to do operations while images download (or get analyzed for HFR, or saved to disk, or whatever), so it's *fast.*  For over a year now, it's run all-night sessions, most often with multiple targets, and using monochrome and filters, all night long for hundreds of nights with exactly 1 "glitch" that made me have to restart imaging (and that was partially my fault).  So, yeah -- I'm a fan.  I've also got the source code, and plan to start contributing programming on it.

 

Others are right -- it's not about the cost.  If SGP does what you need it to, the cost is largely inconsequential (compared to APO refractors, cameras, etc. it's hardly anything!).  I used MaximDL for years, paying the large up-front fee and large annual "upgrade" fees.  I did at the time because that was the best software for me.  Right now, NINA is the best software for me.  With a very few exceptions noted above, it does everything SGP does, and does it faster, easier, and reliably.  Yes, it's free -- just a bonus, it it weren't I'd pay for it (and I have, actually, through donation to the team).  

 

Try both (and Voyager, too).  See which one is best for your setup.  Then use that one.  smile.gif


Edited by OldManSky, 09 July 2020 - 07:33 AM.

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#14 Paul Garais

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Posted 09 July 2020 - 08:01 AM

happylimpet and OldManSky gave descriptions, that I join.
For me NINA is the part in this hobby, that gives the least trouble. That is a lot in a hobby with many pitfalls.

But my opinion may be of limited use for you, because I only tried SGP ones and left it, because it is too slow and has a UI/UX from the 90s. I mainly used APT for imaging prior switching to NINA.


—Paul
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#15 Midnight Dan

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Posted 09 July 2020 - 08:16 AM

I'm an SGP user.  I tried NINA for a while, but it didn't have the capabilities I needed.  But I suspect for many people it's more than enough.

 

The areas where I find SGP excels is in automating your imaging session.  I'm in an area where clear sky time is rare, so I want to make the most of it.  But I don't want to get up at 2am to start an imaging session because that's when the clouds clear out, or the moon sets.  I'd also rather not have to get up to tend to things if a cloud temporarily blocks the view.

 

With SGP, I can set up a session early in the day when it's light out, and for winter sessions, when it's warmer.  I can set a start time and a stop time for the session.  When the session starts, SGP will aim my scope at the target, plate solve to get a precise aim, autofocus, tell PHD to automatically pick a guide star, start guiding, and start imaging.  It will do the same routine automatically at meridian flip time.

 

If clouds are in the way at startup time, or if they intrude later on and guiding is lost, SGP can be set up to go into recovery mode.  Every 10 or 15 minutes (configurable), it will attempt to start up again, until the sky clears.  It will then do a plate solve and center, autofocus, start guiding, and start imaging again.  I can also set it up to notify my by text, or in my case I use GNS (Good Night System) from Lunatico Astronomia.  It's an app on my iPhone that communicates with an app on my imaging laptop.  The laptop app is actually integrated into SGP.   SGP tells the app what its current status is, and what the timeout value is for the current operation, which is then sent to the iPhone.  The iPhone monitors things for the duration of the timeout and if it gets no further communication from SGP, it assumes something went wrong and wakes me up.  This scheme works for all kinds of problems, including if the laptop crashes or the power goes out.

 

There's a lot of power in SGP that has led to a much more comfortable life as an amateur astronomer! :-) I get a lot more sleep, can take advantage of short windows of opportunity, and can do most of my work during daytime hours.

 

-Dan


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#16 nimitz69

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Posted 09 July 2020 - 10:49 AM

I know that there are other threads out there about this however a lot of them do seem older and as NINA is seemingly a relatively young program it's probably seen a lot of upgrades since then, I know there are some fairly vocal/devout users of each here I'm hoping for maybe some updated/more specific information on the differences between the two.
 
At first glance both NINA and SGP seem to be very very similar in what they do, various options, etc. I'm sure there are some things that SGP does that NINA doesn't, and vice versa, however it seems like for my current needs both are going to function very well for me so I'm really having a hard time deciding.
 
Honestly speaking I think my needs/wants atm are fairly simple:


  • Framing/Mosaic help that includes camera rotation
  • Sequencing that can do multiple panels in one night if I want/have time/setup right
  • Mount control for the above (Needs platesolving)
  • Filter Wheel control
  • Good auto focus, preferably with temp control options
  • Flat helper to set those exposures/control any flat panels I get down the road
Probably forgetting something there tbh, however I also feel like is a pretty complete feature list that would last awhile and anything I'm forgetting that may be a glaring thing would be covered anyways. Yet as mentioned I'm also not seeing anything there that really says "well NINA has much better X" or "this feature is only on SGP".
 
So what am I missing here and what currently is setting these two apart feature wise?


As someone who started out with SGP & switched to NINA I’ll give you my experience ...YMMV

I tried for 6 months but could never get full functionality with SGP ... its just too unintutive for me. Switched to NINA and after 4 consecutive nights I was fully functional. I have a permanent observatory with a ‘full’ setup: mono camera, EFW, AF w/temp probe.

While SGP does support some functions that NINA doesnt I believe the consensus is that the AF routine in NINA is better. Also NINA is free and since its open source folks are working on stuff WRT it all the time. SGP costs $99 (?) and does not work like this ...

Why not try out NINA? It costs you nothing and if you don’t like it you can always buy SGP ...

Edited by nimitz69, 09 July 2020 - 10:52 AM.

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#17 georgian82

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Posted 09 July 2020 - 10:56 AM

The biggest advantage I saw when I switched from SGP to NINA is the much faster download time between frames. I just couldn’t handle how slow SGP was for me (it took a solid 20 seconds to download a frame).

The other advantage is that NINA is open source and there are always contributors adding new features.

There are lots of really good videos to learn NINA.

#18 Midnight Dan

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Posted 09 July 2020 - 11:39 AM

The biggest advantage I saw when I switched from SGP to NINA is the much faster download time between frames. I just couldn’t handle how slow SGP was for me (it took a solid 20 seconds to download a frame).

The other advantage is that NINA is open source and there are always contributors adding new features.

There are lots of really good videos to learn NINA.

People frequently mention the download time.  One issue with it taking so long is if the image history function is enabled.  SGP takes time to analyze the image, detect all the stars, and calculate an HFR rating.  If you turn that off, the Download times are MUCH faster.

 

-Dan


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#19 yzhzhang

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Posted 09 July 2020 - 11:53 AM

People frequently mention the download time.  One issue with it taking so long is if the image history function is enabled.  SGP takes time to analyze the image, detect all the stars, and calculate an HFR rating.  If you turn that off, the Download times are MUCH faster.

 

But NINA and Voyager does the same. I can't speak a lot about NINA, but Voyager is indeed faster than SGP.


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#20 Stelios

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Posted 09 July 2020 - 02:49 PM

People frequently mention the download time.  One issue with it taking so long is if the image history function is enabled.  SGP takes time to analyze the image, detect all the stars, and calculate an HFR rating.  If you turn that off, the Download times are MUCH faster.

 

-Dan

The download time is never more than 2" for me with SGP. This with both cameras, ASI1600MM-C and ASI183MM-Pro. 


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#21 Ryou

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Posted 09 July 2020 - 04:39 PM

Thank you to everyone who has commented so far and shared their experience on things. To address a couple of the more common things from early on...

 

"How about "Works reliably and consistently"?"

Definitely an oopsie (in a sense) to leave that out, however I also almost feel like this is a given or falls under that "glaring thing would be covered anyways" subset lol.

 

Cost was something else being brought up in some posts, and honestly speaking this is definitely a case where I do not care about cost.If I feel like SGP is better for my needs than I'm going to go with SGP. Same with NINA. I'll probably try them both out also however it's always nice to have an idea for various things. 

 

One other thing I saw tossed around some is Voyager, and I would not mind looking into this either. I have seen it mentioned in other threads and it seems like this may be the best autofocus? Followed by NINA and then SGP? 

 

 

For some a more specific thing though... I can not lie and say that that recovery mode thingy of SGP doesn't sound appealing for if clouds roll in or similar. However I also feel the need to ask (simply because I'm maybe not thinking about it right) the real use/impact on that. Like I can understand if they roll in and don't go away it'd be nice to stop vs continue, however if they roll in and go away why not just dump those frames? Granted this does assume that PHD2 will pick up the guiding again after the clouds roll on through, which I'm honestly not sure of as I've not had to deal with clouds while imaging yet. 



#22 lynnelkriver

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Posted 09 July 2020 - 04:44 PM

My story is I just started using N.I.N.A with a OSC (ASI294MC Pro).  I recently added a Focus Boss II and motorized focuser from Starlight Instruments for my C9.25 Edge HD and I'm absolutely happy with it.  I've been using SharpCap so far and it really has been great but it lacks an automated focuser routine.  I have not tried SGP but from what I had read from other folks and from what others have said on this thread the down-load times are faster with N.I.N.A.  I do not know if that is true or not but what I do know is the down-load times for me are extremely fast with my set-up.  That is also the beauty of astrophotography is all software options we now have out there. All the best, Scott


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#23 Madratter

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Posted 09 July 2020 - 04:56 PM


One other thing I saw tossed around some is Voyager, and I would not mind looking into this either. I have seen it mentioned in other threads and it seems like this may be the best autofocus? Followed by NINA and then SGP? 

 

Here is a ton of information on Voyager.

 

https://www.cloudyni...s-talk-voyager/

 

This is the official website:

 

https://software.starkeeper.it/

 

This is the wiki:

 

https://voyager.tour...title=Main_Page

 

I'm just a very satisfied customer. It isn't that SGP or N.I.N.A. are bad. They all fill particular niches. I ran SGP from 2013 until early 2020 when I switched.


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#24 yzhzhang

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Posted 09 July 2020 - 05:07 PM

I can understand if they roll in and don't go away it'd be nice to stop vs continue, however if they roll in and go away why not just dump those frames? Granted this does assume that PHD2 will pick up the guiding again after the clouds roll on through, which I'm honestly not sure of as I've not had to deal with clouds while imaging yet. 

It works the other way around for me. If you don't have recovery feature like Voyager or SGP, cloud rolls in, NINA will stop; If you just let NINA fire blindly (I dont know if you can do that with lost guide star though), you may drift away and shooting somewhere off once the cloud goes away, as there is no re-center option AFAIK.

 

I think there is different mindsets: NINA is a great integrator that expose you to different parts of DSO AP and help you putting them together in one piece, which is indeed step one, and help you get data; Voyager and SGP is geared towards unattended automation that maximize imaging session when condition suits, and generate high quality data.


Edited by yzhzhang, 09 July 2020 - 05:08 PM.

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#25 Ryou

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Posted 09 July 2020 - 05:15 PM

I think there is different mindsets: NINA is a great integrator that expose you to different parts of DSO AP and help you putting them together in one piece, which is indeed step one, and help you get data; Voyager and SGP is geared towards unattended automation that maximize imaging session when condition suits, and generate high quality data.

 

That is a very interesting way to put it and probably seems to be fairly accurate from what I can tell. Especially with the talk about SGP being able to send texts and alerts and stuff when things happen. That would 100% be a game changer for anything remote or where you can't just run out in the middle of the night to check on things. 




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