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Best starting software for newb

Astrophotography Beginner Software
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#26 RoscoeD

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Posted 18 January 2022 - 04:44 PM

Skill is the most important part of imaging, not advanced hardware or techniques. 

Same in Terrestrial photography.  Same pictures can turn out significantly different in the hands of different processors.  Not all skill, but also personal preference...


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#27 RoscoeD

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Posted 18 January 2022 - 04:48 PM

For calibrating/stacking/processing your data, I recommend Astro Pixel Processor.  Does it all, has an excellent gradient reduction tool for reducing the effects of light pollution.  An excellent balance of performance versus ease of use.  A numbered workflow teaches you a lot about processing.

 

Not cheap however...but after dropping over $4K so far in mount, scope, cameras, etc...that's a drop in the bucket I guess


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#28 jonnybravo0311

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Posted 18 January 2022 - 05:02 PM

That is a very oft-used expression... you've spent multiple thousands of dollars on hardware. What's a couple hundred on software?


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#29 bobzeq25

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Posted 18 January 2022 - 06:01 PM

bobzeq25, you came through for me again.  All that makes sense. 

 

Q: What does manual plate solving buy me without having it integrated into the overall workflow?

It buys getting perfectly on target.  Method.  Done this many times.

 

GOTO the target.  You just need to get close (speeds things up), it makes no difference whether the target is in the field of view or not.

 

Shoot a short frame, you just need some stars.  Load it into PlateSolve2 (it eats fits and jpgs), with the targets RA and DEC, and the approximate field of view.

 

Hit solve.  PS2 tells you exactly where you're pointed, RA and DEC.   You calculate the error in each, correct with the hand controller.  The hard part is not going 180 degrees the wrong way.  <smile>

 

Take another image, a bit longer.  The target should now be centered.  If not, platesove again, see how things went wrong.  Try again.

 

Done this many times.   Getting it wrong is educational.   But that no longer happens.  <smile>

 

It's how platesolving embedded in an imaging suite works.  The imaging suite never goes 180 degrees the wrong way.  <smile>

 

I use Voyager as an imaging suite.  I have PS2 on the computer, when setting Voyager up I told it to use that program.  You can use others. 

 

I tell Voyager to go to the target.  It has a catalog, I can specify the targets' RA and DEC, or just a Messier or NGC number.  I enter that, hit the button.

 

I can watch what goes on in detail in a window.  It slews the mount (I also set up that connection) to the target.  Images, platesolves, corrects.  It may take two tries, the (adjustable) default tolerance for off target is small.  It's just doing exactly what the manual process above did.

 

Refinement.  Voyager has centered the target.  I may want to move it with the hand controller to artistically frame it.  I can then tell Voyager to shoot an image, platesolve, and consider the new RA and DEC as the target now.  If it does something like a meridian flip, it goes back there.

 

Questions?


Edited by bobzeq25, 18 January 2022 - 06:10 PM.


#30 bobzeq25

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Posted 18 January 2022 - 06:05 PM

Not cheap however...but after dropping over $4K so far in mount, scope, cameras, etc...that's a drop in the bucket I guess

Precisely.  People like "free".  And wind up spending more of their time to get the free stuff to work not as well.

 

The important thing is to use an astro specific program instead of trying to persuade a terrestrial photoediting program to do astro.  There are other choices. I used StarTools for a while, its main drawback is that it doesn't calibrate/stack, so you have to use DSS to do that.  A complication and DSS doesn't do those things as well as APP.

 

Just don't use price as a decision factor.  <smile>  Use what you prefer, as you say, the price is trivial.


Edited by bobzeq25, 18 January 2022 - 06:08 PM.


#31 ntph

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Posted 18 January 2022 - 07:55 PM

Manual platesolving will tell you the exact centre and dimensions of your image. Knowing where you want to be pointed, you can then figure out how much and in which direction you need to move your mount. So you guesstimate the moves (or you might be able to get a "live view" or pseudolive view with short exposures (maybe a second or so) that let you track how much you're moving and in which directions) you need to make then when you think you're in the right ballpark, you shoot again and do another manual solve and compare and have another go at it. Once you get in the right ball park, depending on your target and what bright stars may be around it, you can use somewhat longer exposures and fine tune it by eyeball and taste. Maybe I am just not that good at it, but it takes me a lot longer than I would like, and 'way longer than when NINA does it for me! And she can get the same framing, including rotation, every time, session after session.  I think of using manual platesolving like starhopping in ultrasupersupersuperslowmotion.

 

While I agree with Bob's philosophy of sequential and foundational learning, my suspicion is you will  quickly get to the point where you will want to use an integrated package. Camera control, Target selection, framing, go-to with platesolving all in one place, no muss, no fuss. I have a manual mount with which I do manual platesolving for framing when targets are faint, and a goto mount where I can let NINA take over. While I get some satisfaction from using the manual mount ( like when you starhop to a tough target), for imaging my goto mount is literally my go-to mount.

 

You can learn three separate programs and have to do the fussy framing manually, or learn the three parts of one program that puts it all together and makes your life simpler. Some folks have trouble with integrated packages like NINA, but not many and there is lots of help available. I started with the three part system  because  a) it was available at the time   b) I understood all the concepts  c-i) there were more advanced options out there but they were relatively complex to me, a relative computer dunce, and 

c-ii) modestly expensive. Then NINA came along  and  did all the things the other programs I had learned did all in one package and it's free and well supported.  It has only gotten better since I started using it. What's not to like?!  If you go that route, start with simple sequences. Once you understand and can use the simple sequencer well, there is an advanced sequencer available, but you may never need that level of sophistication. 

 

Lots of folks will spend lots of money on hardware and then balk at paying for software. In my opinion, if two things do the same job just about the same way and one is free and the other costs X, I would save X and see how the freeware meets your needs. But in processing, you get what you pay for. That's why PhotoShop and PixInsight are at the top of their respective classes, terrestrial and astrophotographically speaking. 


Edited by ntph, 18 January 2022 - 08:05 PM.


#32 bobzeq25

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Posted 18 January 2022 - 08:08 PM

Manual platesolving will tell you the exact centre and dimensions of your image. Knowing where you want to be pointed, you can then figure out how much and in which direction you need to move your mount. So you guesstimate the moves (or you might be able to get a "live view" or pseudolive view with short exposures (maybe a second or so) that let you track how much you're moving and in which directions) you need to make then when you think you're in the right ballpark, you shoot again and do another manual solve and compare and have another go at it. Once you get in the right ball park, depending on your target and what bright stars may be around it, you can use somewhat longer exposures and fine tune it by eyeball and taste. Maybe I am just not that good at it, but it takes me a lot longer than I would like, and 'way longer than when NINA does it for me! And she can get the same framing, including rotation, every time, session after session.  I think of using manual platesolving like starhopping in ultrasupersupersuperslowmotion.

Why guesstimate?  You have the target RA and DEC, you have the actual RA and DEC.  Move the mount the difference.  No guesstimation required.

 

Takes me maybe a minute. 

 

Example.  If your target is at 41 degrees 40 minutes, and your actual DEC is 40 degrees 20 minutes, you move the mount 1 degree 20 minutes North.



#33 RoscoeD

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Posted 18 January 2022 - 08:19 PM

Why guesstimate?  You have the target RA and DEC, you have the actual RA and DEC.  Move the mount the difference.  No guesstimation required.

 

Takes me maybe a minute. 

 

Example.  If your target is at 41 degrees 40 minutes, and your actual DEC is 40 degrees 20 minutes, you move the mount 1 degree 20 minutes North.

As someone who is following all this theoretically, how does one know how to move it a specific amount?


Edited by RoscoeD, 18 January 2022 - 08:22 PM.


#34 ntph

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Posted 18 January 2022 - 08:34 PM

Why guesstimate?  You have the target RA and DEC, you have the actual RA and DEC.  Move the mount the difference.  No guesstimation required.

 

Takes me maybe a minute. 

 

Example.  If your target is at 41 degrees 40 minutes, and your actual DEC is 40 degrees 20 minutes, you move the mount 1 degree 20 minutes North.

smile.gif  manual mount...no mount position given...haven't worked out how far x seconds at y slew rate moves...if you have a mount that tells you where it points, why bother? why not just set it up for platesolve slewing and centreing?!


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#35 Northrim

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Posted 18 January 2022 - 08:46 PM

I would again recommend NINA.  It has a lot of moving parts but you don't have to learn everything at once.  You don't need to guide at first. Or use the autofocus function.  Use the simple sequencer at first. 

 

I'd get NINA and grow into it.


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#36 rgsalinger

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Posted 18 January 2022 - 09:06 PM

Here's some ideas not related to software - 

 

First, pretty much any computer will do for image acquistion. That should be clear because the usual crowd of RPi users have already chimed in. Second, there are some other things that are quite important. The two things that I always recommend are getting a book and joining a local club. The book I like is the Deep Sky Imaging Primer. That will not only give you some useful theory but also has some neat processing examples in the back section.

 

The next thing I recommend is that you consider buying an industrial quality USB hub and/or something like the Pegasus power box to clean up your cabling. This will allow you to set up and tear down more quickly and efficiently. If you use a small enough computer (not a laptop) you can even put that on the OTA. Lots of dangling cables and poorly mounted guiding systems will make getting nice data no fun. The goal is for data acquisition to be as painless as possible. 

 

Think about how you are going to unpack and pack up your equipment. Having some nice containers for the small stuff is really useful. Maybe a bag for the tripod so that it can't damage the interior of your car. 

 

Finally, when imaging take care to set the tripod as low as you can and consider buying a spreader to make it even more stable. Don't just set up on grass, things tend to sink.  Don't set up where there are likely to be vibrations from (say) trucks rumbline by (even if it's dark). 

 

Relating to software, I would not want to learn a new operating system just to take a picture of a galaxy (or even a nebula). While you can load astroberry onto an RPI (I've just done this) without much trouble, when you need to troubleshoot there's nothing like knowing how to use tools like Device Manager that you already know. When you want to add an external disk,how do you do this in Linux? So, that's my view about software choices. 

 

If you want to try an ASIAir there's always one for sale used pretty much every day on astromart and in the classifieds here. Doesn't seem to be any point in buying one of these new given tthat not only is the OS unfamiliar but the hardware choices are limited (only ONE focuser is supported) and support comes from 8,000 miles away in email exchanges. As you can guess, I'm not a fan of these for a new comer. 

 

Rgrds-Ross


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#37 Phishin_phool

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Posted 18 January 2022 - 10:17 PM

FWIW, I consider myself intermediate (barely) at this point as I have 18months imaging under my belt and have turned out some pretty good photos but I am still learning all the time and making my fair share of mistakes and frustrations along the way. I ahve tried a number of things and what works best for me is the following.

 

I am windows based but a lot of this stuff runs on MAC.

As stated ASCOM is the language that allows much of our different gear to talk to one another (EQMOD uses the ASCOM data to run your mount)

 

Stellarium - Use to plan my shoots. See what is in the night sky at any given time/date and also allows you to input and save your different telescopes, Field FLattener/Field Reducers (or barlow), and your camera and then allows you to see your framing. You can actually then import this into what I use next NINA. It can also slew my mount to any given target

 

Sharpcap - can be used as acquisition software but I mainly just use it to Polar align  (sometimes to figure out my ideal sub lengths based on my conditions.) but it can be used as a capture tool since that was it's design. I am going to start setting up n a different location in my back yard that will give me more view of thee night sky but won't allow me to see Polaris to Polar Align with sharpcap but NINA now has a very similar feature called TPPA, three point polar alignment which essentially does the same thing using multiple trigonometry and multiple points to polar align as well from nearly anywhere in the sky.

 

Nina - the rock star of the bunch! I go to the framing wizard and I can then import whatever I have selected in Stellarium and import it into NINA with the press of a button and then do any framing adjustments such as centering or rotating as I see fit or planning a Mosaic if necc. You can also load any target if you don't have one selected from Several catalogs or online sources NINA will link too. Then I go to sequence generator - there is a simple and advanced version. This allows you to set parameters for a session. WHat target you are shooting imported from the framing wizard, how long thew exposures are , how many exposures to shoot, what filter to use if applicable, cool the camera to desired temp, initiate the telescope slew to the target, call whatever plate solving software you may use (there are around 4 or so that NINA support that are essentially plug-ins or function calls using the appropriate libraries, prompt any adjustments in rotation if necc and not using an automatic rotator which it also supports, Initiate autofocus if applicable, how often to refocus if necc (after x number of shots, length of time, change in x degrees temp, change of x % in HFR, etc), initiate guiding (using PHD2 as plug-in as well), begin shooting, pause and perform meridian flip if necc during the shoot, When done shooting warm the camera back to ambient temp and then park scope. It also has capability for weather monitoring, wizards for shooting flats and darks and probably a dozen things I left out. 

 ONe thing I love about NINA is there are a lot of great tutorials and help freely available on the web to get you set-up and started but there is also a great discord that is active and has allowed me to real time troubleshoot and solve problems (which pretty much revolved around autofocus backlash settings and filter wheel configuraiton issues). NINA is the greatest piece of freeware I have ever used ranking slightly ahead of open office.  This is all done on a fairly modest laptop but as stated all that is even simple enough for NUC, mini-pc and even raspberry pi's to something similar. 

 

Processing is different and requires much more "horsepower" on your  pc/mac. I have tried virtually all the software out there - DSS, SIRIL, GIMP, LR/PS, Pixinsight, Startools, APP, Sequator, and perhaps a few others. Ultimately Pixinsight is the most powerful and roibust but with a steep learning curve and a lot of time in both learning and using IMHO. APP allows you to nearly as much with a much simpler intrerface and is as close to WYSIWYG out there. APP advanced my processing skills enormously and even though I am learning Pixinsight I can usually do an equal job much faster and easier in APP. I usually then tweak final adjustments in LR/PS or Luminar  .


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#38 TelescopeGreg

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Posted 18 January 2022 - 11:32 PM

Why guesstimate?  You have the target RA and DEC, you have the actual RA and DEC.  Move the mount the difference.  No guesstimation required.

 

Takes me maybe a minute. 

 

Example.  If your target is at 41 degrees 40 minutes, and your actual DEC is 40 degrees 20 minutes, you move the mount 1 degree 20 minutes North.

The concept is simple; the difficulty for some is doing degrees-minutes-seconds subtraction in your head. 


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#39 bobzeq25

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Posted 19 January 2022 - 12:18 AM

As someone who is following all this theoretically, how does one know how to move it a specific amount?

I showed above how you figure out how much you need to move, and in what direction.

 

How you tell the mount to move in that manner depends on the mount, and the display on the hand controller.  It's mount specific, you have  to know how your mount works.

 

I suppose I'm spoiled.  My iOptron mounts have a 4 line display on the hand controller.  Target RA and DEC.  Actual RA and DEC.  There are 4 buttons on the hand controller.  Move the mount E in RA.  Move the mount W in RA.  Move the mount N in DEC.  Move the mount S in DEC.  You can select how fast.

 

So, when I do the initial GOTO, the 2 lines for actual RA and DEC are the same as the 2 lines for target RA and DEC.  The mount thinks that's where it is.  If the platesolve says I have to move DEC 1 degree 20 minutes N, I use the move mount N in RA button until the actual DEC has changed by + 1 degree 20 minutes.

 

Most GOTO mounts have hand controller displays/buttons that can be used for this.   Exactly how depends on the mount.

 

Re doing it in my head.  I have been known to use a pencil and paper.  <smile>  Helps stop me from going the wrong way.

 

I only did it that way for maybe a year.  Then I got an imaging suite (Voyager) and now let it help me out.  But understanding the process helped me understand what Voyager is doing.

 

I like understanding what the black box is doing, think it helps you troubleshoot problems.  I got doing it manually down to doing it in maybe a minute.  Two, tops, if I used pencil and paper.  <smile>

 

I explained the philosophy behind the approach above.  I understand that some think it's better to just dive into an imaging suite.  Or use the ASIAir Pro.  Note that questions from beginners who take that approach like "why isn't platesolving working?" are common here, and often not the easiest to answer.  If you've done it manually, the experience can show you the potential pitfalls.


Edited by bobzeq25, 19 January 2022 - 12:30 AM.


#40 Ron359

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Posted 19 January 2022 - 01:08 AM

I have scope and mount (see signature), awaiting camera (ASI294MC Pro (color)).  Given the camera type I'll need some automated software to drive it.  I've been overwhelmed by all the options out there. I plan to use a windows laptop to drive the imaging but I have a high-powered iMac that I plan to use for processing the imagery once it comes out of the camera. (Note I'm assuming that processing the imaging will take a fairly hardy computer and my current Windows laptop is pretty minimal)

 

1) What software would folks recommend for a newb for driving the imagery and why? (Note I'm fairly computer savvy so "ease of use" is nice but not a necessity)

1a) What kind of hardware to I need for this?  I assume that platesolving (if that's part of the recommended option) takes some horsepower...

2) What software (if different) would folks recommend for my iMac for the stacking and processing (I already have Lightroom/Photoshop).

 

Thanks!!

I'm a total Mac astro-imager so will only give you Mac recommendations.  Since you're using an iMac (at the telescope??) and EQ-6R,  I'd recommend using Kstars (mac native version) which will do it all from plate solving to running all the imaging hardware, to open and closing a dome and remote sequence imaging. It has the  EQMod driver, and its free, open source.  I use the Orion version of the EQ-8 mount,  and EQMod driver in Kstars.  I don't know if the EQ-6R has internal indexing, but if it does the EQMod mount driver will find the indexes and so knows where it is, and you never have to do any syncs or multi-star alignments when you start from the home position. With Kstars plate solving module you never have to figure out anything about RA & DEC if you dont' want to. It will goto and image the object with your imaging camera (or guide scope) and do all the positioning and centering, start guiding and imaging as long as you set it up for,  then goto the next object etc.  Guiding works with PHD2 or the internal guider (which I haven't really used,  as I'm stuck on PHD)  - PHD2 also an open source free Mac native auto-guider program you should check out.  

 

  If you don't use the iMac or a more portable Macbook, at the scope you can use a Stellarmate version or on Rasp 4 mini compu. on-board which uses the same Kstars suite and you can run over a network or web from anywhere. There is good support from the indilib.org forums.  You'll never need to use a PC, ascom or anything win related.  It doesn't take a lot of 'processer hosre-power' to run the scope and camera from Kstars.   I use a 2012 Macbook Pro with 16 gig ram and two USB3 ports, which I take out to my observatory rather than leave a computer out there. If its too cold to enjoy sitting out there,  I can run it all from my house on a Mac mini on my network.  You could any computer for that of course.  

 

   For image processing , especially for a beginner,  with Mac, I can't recommend Affinity Photo too much.    Its astro-photo processing module of routines work great and straight-forward to use with many on-line demo and training video .   Its not very expensive, very photoshop like for 'daylight' image processing, and built to run on the new M1 Macs  as well as the intel Macs.  For me,  Kstars and Affinity Photo are replacing Nebulosity which has been a Mac native main imaging and processing program for almost 20 yrs. but its creator is letting it out for open source and won't be supporting it.   He also created PHD years ago and its expanded a lot by going open source several years ago.  


Edited by Ron359, 19 January 2022 - 01:29 AM.


#41 ngatel

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Posted 19 January 2022 - 03:30 AM

I think it might be good to understand how all of this works (integrating all these software solutions). This is how I do it every night. My mount is mounted permanently on a pier in my backyard, so I rarely need to polar align it. When I do, I use SharpCap Pro, which costs about $10 per year. NINA can now polar align and it is free.

 

I have a case with a mini PC and a power distribution box I built. The power cables for the mount, imaging camera stay at the scope. USB cables for all the stuff stays at the scope (mount, imaging camera, guide camera, auto focuser). A powered USB hub also stays at the scope.

 

I carry the case to the scope, which is covered with a TeleGizoms cover.

 

Uncover the scope.

 

Plug three power cables from the scope set-up into my power distribution box. Plug one USB cable from the hub into the mini PC. Plug the power distribution box into a 48 AH battery.  Once I connect the battery to the power box, the mini PIC starts by itself.

 

Remove the caps from the guide scope and the main scope.

 

Go inside the house and turn on my MacBook Pro. There is a dedicated router just for my imaging system in the case.

 

Connect the laptop to the telescope's network.

 

Open Microsoft Remote desktop on the Mac.

 

Start the Celestron CPWI software for the mount. I have a Celestron mount and this is the software that controls it.

 

Start PHD2 the auto guiding program and connect it to the guide camera and the Celestron CPWI software for the mount.

 

Open NINA.

 

Connect NINA to CPWI, PHD2, the Imagining camera and the ZWO Electronic Auto Focuser. This is where ASCOM come into play, it allows are these programs to communicate with each other. 

 

All these software connection are a single mouse click. I takes about 5 minutes from the time I carry out the computer case and battery until all the software is connected.

 

I could reuse imaging sessions from past nights that are saved in NINA, but in this case (for an example), I will open Stellarium, which is also on the mini PC. Note: all the software is one the mini PC. I am just controlling everything from the Mac.

 

So let's say I want to image the Orion Nebula (M42) for 6 hours. In Stellarium I do a search for it and it comes up on the screen. 

 

Now I go into NINA and tell her to get the coordinates from Stellarium, by pushing one button in NINA.

 

Now I go to the "Sequencer" in NINA and tell her I want to take 360 60-second exposures. There are some other settings, which are already set up in a template, and I want to keep this simple.

 

Now I hit START.

 

NINA tells the mount (via CPWI) to slew where it thinks M42 is. NINA takes a picture, and sends it to the ASTAP program for plate solving. This is already set up in NINA for every use.

 

ASTAP plate solves and sends the information to NINA. If M42 is not centered, NINA sends another command to the CPWI software to move the mount. Then NINA takes another image. Usually the second image centers the target perfectly.

 

Now NINA tells PHD2 to start auto guiding.

 

Next NINA starts taking test images to adjust the auto focus. After each image NINA makes a focus adjustment and takes another image. Once NINA confirms the focus is optimal (2-3 minutes), NINA starts taking pictures. I monitor the first few just to make sure everything is working as it should, which happens 99% of the time.

 

Now it is 7 PM and I spend the evening with my wife. I can ignore the telescope.

 

If, during the night, M42 crosses the meridian, NINA will stop everything, tell the mount to switch positions, and then plate solve, restart guiding, auto focus, and continue to take the remaining images.

 

After 360 images are taken, NINA parks the mount (so it stops tracking) and turns off the cooler in the camera.

 

Around 8am or 9am (I'm retired), I copy the images from the mini PC to a USB drive. Shut down the mini computer with the Mac, put the lens caps back on the scopes, disconnect the cables, cover the scope, and carry my case and battery into the garage. I plug the battery in the charger. Done. Another 5 minute task. It takes longer to make a pot of coffee than the morning astro tasks.

 

I am not advocating that my software is the best way to go, but it works perfectly for me and I don't see any need to change. You have a great mount. If I had your mount, I would use the same stuff only substitute CPWI for whatever software controls your mount.

 

The point I am trying to make, is you need to figure out what all the pieces (software) do, and how they integrate (work). From what I have read, the ASIAIR does all of this, but users are stuck with the ZWO universe (e.g., ZWO cameras, ZWO auto focusers, ZWO filter wheels, etc.). Plus the software isn't as robust as what I use. Plus, I don't think you can control it with a computer (I may be wrong). I have a Celestron auto focuser on one of my scopes, and it is incompatible with the ASIAIR.

 

I do all processing on my Mac. I would get all the acquisition stuff down before buying processing software if I were you. Some people struggle with all of this at first. Others, like me, had very few problems getting it all to work, other than self-induced issues such as not reading all the instructions.

 

I have used Photo Shop (CS2), Affinity Photo, Astro Pixel Processor, Star Tools, and switched to PixInsight a couple months ago. I sticking with PI, However, all the other software packages I used over the course of a year, made PI much, much easier to learn. Although, perhaps, one never learns everything about PI.



#42 DivisionByZero

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Posted 19 January 2022 - 08:38 AM

A side effect of doing things manually, as Bobzeq suggests, is that you will learn the sky. I still tell people to at least learn the constellations. Mounts are not fool proof and might decide to point off in never-never land. Having some idea of where it should be is helpful, I find.


Edited by DivisionByZero, 20 January 2022 - 12:28 AM.

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#43 terry59

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Posted 19 January 2022 - 08:50 AM

I side dffect of doing things manually, as Bobzeq suggests, is that you will learn the sky. I still tell people to at least learn the constellations. Mounts are not fool proof and might decide to point off in never-never land. Having some idea of where it should be is helpful, I find.

I don't understand this mindset. You must learn constellations to some degree by looking up targets to image and automated plate solving.

 

I had to learn the slide rule in H.S. physics but use a calculator today. Use automation to your advantage 


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#44 OldManSky

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Posted 19 January 2022 - 09:08 AM

Precisely.  People like "free".  And wind up spending more of their time to get the free stuff to work not as well.

 

 

Sometimes "free" is also the best, though... :)

 

For control of the setup, I very highly recommend "free" NINA.  It's easy to use, it supports a wide range of hardware, it's very full-featured, and it's extremely reliable.  I used to pay for MaximDL -- a lot.  I've tried the free trials of Voyager and SGP.  NINA is much better for my use.  Of course, it's really not "free" since I gladly donate to the developers yearly...but you don't have to!



#45 bobzeq25

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Posted 19 January 2022 - 09:25 AM

 

 

I have used Photo Shop (CS2), Affinity Photo, Astro Pixel Processor, Star Tools, and switched to PixInsight a couple months ago. I sticking with PI, However, all the other software packages I used over the course of a year, made PI much, much easier to learn. Although, perhaps, one never learns everything about PI.

No perhaps about it.  I have hundreds of hours in PI, two books, websites, many forum posts (including some from the PI forum) and a weeklong class from the inimitable Vicent Peris, and have no illusions I know anything like everything about it.  Know just enough to get into serious trouble here.  <smile>

 

This is educational.  Take a good linear stack of yours.  Run it through Jon Rista's superb noise reduction procedure, the best I've ever seen.  By the time you finish will be persuaded there is more to be learned about PI.  <smile>  You'll also have an excellent foundation to build an improved version of that image.  If you persist.  <smile>

 

https://jonrista.com...duction-part-1/
 


Edited by bobzeq25, 19 January 2022 - 09:31 AM.


#46 Ron359

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Posted 19 January 2022 - 10:29 AM

No perhaps about it.  I have hundreds of hours in PI, two books, websites, many forum posts (including some from the PI forum) and a weeklong class from the inimitable Vicent Peris, and have no illusions I know anything like everything about it.  Know just enough to get into serious trouble here.  <smile>

 

This is educational.  Take a good linear stack of yours.  Run it through Jon Rista's superb noise reduction procedure, the best I've ever seen.  By the time you finish will be persuaded there is more to be learned about PI.  <smile>  You'll also have an excellent foundation to build an improved version of that image.  If you persist.  <smile>

 

https://jonrista.com...duction-part-1/
 

Thats all about you!   Spending all that time and hundreds of dollars for complex software, is not for a self-described, "newb".   And doing things 'manually' is great if you even have years to learn it all.    I have a good friend who got into astro a few years ago, and when I was suggesting he learn to do star-hopping first cause you really learn the sky that way.  He said,  I'm almost 80 yrs. old,  I don't have time to do that!  The light went-on, and I completely agreed with him.   The 'old-ways' are not always the best for 90% of newbs.   Would you recommend a newb start off imaging with a roll of film and guide manually by staring at the red reticle pushing 4 buttons for hours on end?   I only turned out a few good images a year doing that and never ever 'finished' a roll of film, and froze many parts of my body. Not to mention brain numbing tedious nights I could not look up and just enjoy the sky like I do now while the Mac & mount does all the tedious guiding & imaging.  You can always 'turn the automation off' and learn as much of the ways of the dinosaurs as much as you want.    

 

since I started using Kstars-EKOS-INDI has 'matured' greatly over the past two years.   Most of any time lost and frustration, the learning curve was only a minor part,  far less than all the time you suggest a 'newb' spend on the 'old-ways'   Most of time lost was due to 'USB cables', hubs,  glitches' in drivers, or not new drivers like Canon CR3 format, the same as ASCOM users (I've ued it too) experience.   Once the hardware gremlins are gone,  now I fire up the mount, from anywhere, and just image.  Now if only ever increasing bad or cloudy weather,  light pollution,  wildfire-smoke and haze could be fixed and our sky's go back to the "good old-days" when I remember often seeing M33 naked eye, w/o a camera.  


Edited by Ron359, 19 January 2022 - 12:34 PM.

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#47 ntph

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Posted 19 January 2022 - 10:51 AM

I don't understand this mindset. You must learn constellations to some degree by looking up targets to image and automated plate solving.

 

I had to learn the slide rule in H.S. physics but use a calculator today. Use automation to your advantage 

Did you "have to learn" to use a slide rule, or are you old enough that  you gave up using yours (I really liked the circular ones, my preferred model) when those new-fangled calculators came out?  And cost a fortune--my Texas Instruments SR-50 was $200 when my year's tuition at university was $700. Another reason why "free" NINA is such an amazing deal, and like Paul (OldManSky), I contribute to the devs. 


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#48 terry59

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Posted 19 January 2022 - 12:41 PM

Did you "have to learn" to use a slide rule, or are you old enough that  you gave up using yours (I really liked the circular ones, my preferred model) when those new-fangled calculators came out?  And cost a fortune--my Texas Instruments SR-50 was $200 when my year's tuition at university was $700. Another reason why "free" NINA is such an amazing deal, and like Paul (OldManSky), I contribute to the devs. 

We had to use it in physics class. It's like latin, I've never had a conversation in the language outside of that class. I remember the TI cost back then too

 

smile.gif



#49 ngatel

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Posted 19 January 2022 - 04:52 PM

I don't understand this mindset. You must learn constellations to some degree by looking up targets to image and automated plate solving.

 

I had to learn the slide rule in H.S. physics but use a calculator today. Use automation to your advantage 

Well, why not just buy a Stellina or Vespera and be done with it?

 

In the '60s in college we had to use slide rules. There were no handheld calculators, nor personal computers. On any test that required calculations, the answer had to be accurate to 4 decimal points. If not, your score was reduced, even if all your documented steps were 100% correct. A coupe decimal points is significant for some applications.

 

I still have my Post Versalog and Pickett Super Trig slide rules. Still use them occasionally. Is modern tech better? Sure, if you don't have a power failure, dead batteries, or electronic damage. 

 

What if one drives 400 miles to a dark site for a week of imaging and somehow the plate solving program gets damaged and won't work? Does one pack up and go home, or continue with another method they know will work even if it is more involved and time consuming? 



#50 terry59

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Posted 19 January 2022 - 05:28 PM

 

 

What if one drives 400 miles to a dark site for a week of imaging and somehow the plate solving program gets damaged and won't work? Does one pack up and go home, or continue with another method they know will work even if it is more involved and time consuming? 

You make sure you can solve without the internet and have multiple plate solving programs

 

smile.gif


Edited by terry59, 19 January 2022 - 05:29 PM.

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