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AstroShader iOS AP app: Intro + beta-testers wanted

Smartphone AP Software Astrophotography
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#426 Domdron

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Posted 26 March 2024 - 09:47 AM

I’ll defer on that, the author may have no intent on going commercial but you certainly don’t want to burn any bridges, it’s always a possibility as the market evolves, I think phone astrophotography is going to turn in to a mass thing as phones keep advancing

Well, I had suggested to charge for the app earlier in this thread (I'd certainly pay a fair price for it). I'm still of the opinion that either charging or open-sourcing would be best to ensure long-term longevity. I've seen many "free" but closed source projects which just die when the original author doesn't have time anymore, or looses interest. 

 

Both models would also enable ports like Android: if charged-for, there are now resources that could be used to pay an Android dev (I can help finding good and affordable ones here in Kenya :) ). If open source, it can just be taken up by anyone who wants to...



#427 The Science Golfer

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Posted 26 March 2024 - 01:11 PM

Hi guys!
 

I am fairly new to astrophotography, but this app AstroShader has really made it easy to learn. I just want to say thank you for your hard work to improve the app and make such photography possible. I recently took the following photo using AstroShader: this is a photo of the Perseus Double Cluster (NGC 869 and NGC 884). I used 180 frames of 7 seconds exposure each at ISO 800. My current telescope is a 4” reflector teamed with an Orion EQ1 mount and a basic motor drive (although I am hoping to soon upgrade to a Celestron AVX mount and an 8” reflector). I hit the realign button roughly once every 20%. Overall I am quite pleased with how this turned out!

 

https://ibb.co/JyjvX3C

 

Clear skies,

 

Tyler


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#428 GSBass

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Posted 26 March 2024 - 03:51 PM

Pretty

Hi guys!
 

I am fairly new to astrophotography, but this app AstroShader has really made it easy to learn. I just want to say thank you for your hard work to improve the app and make such photography possible. I recently took the following photo using AstroShader: this is a photo of the Perseus Double Cluster (NGC 869 and NGC 884). I used 180 frames of 7 seconds exposure each at ISO 800. My current telescope is a 4” reflector teamed with an Orion EQ1 mount and a basic motor drive (although I am hoping to soon upgrade to a Celestron AVX mount and an 8” reflector). I hit the realign button roughly once every 20%. Overall I am quite pleased with how this turned out!

 

https://ibb.co/JyjvX3C

 

Clear skies,

 

Tyler


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#429 astrshdr

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Posted 26 March 2024 - 06:18 PM

Well, I had suggested to charge for the app earlier in this thread (I'd certainly pay a fair price for it). I'm still of the opinion that either charging or open-sourcing would be best to ensure long-term longevity. I've seen many "free" but closed source projects which just die when the original author doesn't have time anymore, or looses interest. 

 

Both models would also enable ports like Android: if charged-for, there are now resources that could be used to pay an Android dev (I can help finding good and affordable ones here in Kenya smile.gif ). If open source, it can just be taken up by anyone who wants to...

This is a really good discussion and providing lots of food for thought...

 

I'm very undecided on which way to go long-term, commercial vs open source, haha. There are also some other variants of charging for the app that keep it free for most users such as paid for "pro" features, advertising, partnership programs, licensing, etc that would allow the project to be self-sustaining.

 

Specifically on the Android work I'd like to resolve most of the outstanding issues on iOS to speed the process along too.


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#430 GSBass

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Posted 26 March 2024 - 07:25 PM

You would think Vaonis would be very interested in what your doing since they are on a parallel path but not at the level of your program yet, I would introduce myself if your interested. They are a talented bunch, I would assume they will figure it all out eventually but AstroShader is already where I expect they are headed. The Main customer service rep is Agnes, she is very nice, tell her I sent you smile.gif they know me well

—-

and even if your not interested it would still be smart to buy a hestia so that you have access to the gravity app so you can follow what they are doing imho… might be helpful 

This is a really good discussion and providing lots of food for thought...

 

I'm very undecided on which way to go long-term, commercial vs open source, haha. There are also some other variants of charging for the app that keep it free for most users such as paid for "pro" features, advertising, partnership programs, licensing, etc that would allow the project to be self-sustaining.

 

Specifically on the Android work I'd like to resolve most of the outstanding issues on iOS to speed the process along too.


Edited by GSBass, 26 March 2024 - 07:31 PM.

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#431 The Science Golfer

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Posted 26 March 2024 - 09:40 PM

I definitely think that the app is well worth paying for. I did a pretty thorough search of all the app apps in the iOS App Store before settling on this one, and all the rest of them either charged ridiculous prices, took personal info, or had horrible reviews. With the advanced tools the app has and the amazing results, I think you could probably charge 2 to 4 bucks and it would be a very worthwhile purchase. My only question: would users who already own the app have to pay if you did decide to charge money? Like I said, I think it’s well worth paying a decent amount for. Just wondering.

 

This is a really good discussion and providing lots of food for thought...

 

I'm very undecided on which way to go long-term, commercial vs open source, haha. There are also some other variants of charging for the app that keep it free for most users such as paid for "pro" features, advertising, partnership programs, licensing, etc that would allow the project to be self-sustaining.

 

Specifically on the Android work I'd like to resolve most of the outstanding issues on iOS to speed the process along too.


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#432 Domdron

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Posted 27 March 2024 - 12:11 AM

This is a really good discussion and providing lots of food for thought...

 

I'm very undecided on which way to go long-term, commercial vs open source, haha. There are also some other variants of charging for the app that keep it free for most users such as paid for "pro" features, advertising, partnership programs, licensing, etc that would allow the project to be self-sustaining.

 

Specifically on the Android work I'd like to resolve most of the outstanding issues on iOS to speed the process along too.

Keeping it free for most users sounds great if it can be sustainable. How about adding voluntary "tipping" as in-app purchase?


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#433 GeezerGazer

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Posted 27 March 2024 - 02:57 PM

I agree with Dom and others here.  If it becomes a paid app, I'd hope that it is a one-time fee, rather than an annual renewal.  But either way, this app is worth a lot to me personally, certainly more than $2-$4 dollars.  Paying for the app makes it worthwhile to update, and eventually the app could be sold if updates become tedious or worrisome.  I don't know a lot about open source, but If choosing between open source and paid, I'd rather see the paid version for longevity and timely updates as iOS changes occur.  

Ray


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#434 GSBass

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Posted 27 March 2024 - 03:51 PM

Although we have been doing basic iPhone projection photography for years it really is a new thing with the advancements in low light capabilities and stacking. It’s kind of on the cusp to where it’s considered a viable alternative. So yeah programs like AstroShader and gravity are at the forefront of this and have value. I would pay also, it literally becomes more capable every time you upgrade your phone, I’m excited about it even with my other capabilities. Apple will most likely have to crack the door a little further though on stuff like sub time for it to reach its full potential

I agree with Dom and others here.  If it becomes a paid app, I'd hope that it is a one-time fee, rather than an annual renewal.  But either way, this app is worth a lot to me personally, certainly more than $2-$4 dollars.  Paying for the app makes it worthwhile to update, and eventually the app could be sold if updates become tedious or worrisome.  I don't know a lot about open source, but If choosing between open source and paid, I'd rather see the paid version for longevity and timely updates as iOS changes occur.  

Ray



#435 astrshdr

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Posted 27 March 2024 - 04:14 PM

You would think Vaonis would be very interested in what your doing since they are on a parallel path but not at the level of your program yet, I would introduce myself if your interested. They are a talented bunch, I would assume they will figure it all out eventually but AstroShader is already where I expect they are headed. The Main customer service rep is Agnes, she is very nice, tell her I sent you smile.gif they know me well

—-

and even if your not interested it would still be smart to buy a hestia so that you have access to the gravity app so you can follow what they are doing imho… might be helpful 

Well I'm sure they have their own plans for their app and know how to make it work best with their hardware. Also having a few apps out there is probably better for the end users ensuring some competition to keep pushing the limits. I am tempted to get one though, or the SeeStar S50.


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#436 astrshdr

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Posted 27 March 2024 - 04:32 PM

I definitely think that the app is well worth paying for. I did a pretty thorough search of all the app apps in the iOS App Store before settling on this one, and all the rest of them either charged ridiculous prices, took personal info, or had horrible reviews. With the advanced tools the app has and the amazing results, I think you could probably charge 2 to 4 bucks and it would be a very worthwhile purchase. My only question: would users who already own the app have to pay if you did decide to charge money? Like I said, I think it’s well worth paying a decent amount for. Just wondering.

I agree with Dom and others here.  If it becomes a paid app, I'd hope that it is a one-time fee, rather than an annual renewal.  But either way, this app is worth a lot to me personally, certainly more than $2-$4 dollars.  Paying for the app makes it worthwhile to update, and eventually the app could be sold if updates become tedious or worrisome.  I don't know a lot about open source, but If choosing between open source and paid, I'd rather see the paid version for longevity and timely updates as iOS changes occur.  

Ray

Keeping it free for most users sounds great if it can be sustainable. How about adding voluntary "tipping" as in-app purchase?

 

Just to reassure everyone I have absolutely no plans to charge users for the app any time soon. I've also publicly committed to keep it free on another forum too.

 

However, the discussion about long term sustainability is definitely worth thinking about. On reflection and above the other considerations—the main concern is that there is at least one person committed to keeping it maintained and available on the app store(s), so if for any reason I needed to stop this would be the priority beyond open-sourcing, payment models, etc.

 

Developing AstroShader was actually a way to help push forward another unrelated piece of technology—which is quite nice as it means simply making a working version is a positive outcome for me!


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#437 GSBass

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Posted 27 March 2024 - 04:44 PM

The robots will be superior in just about every way however the hestia is basically just a telescope design to make phone placement as easy as possible, it has zero electronics, of course they designed it with their own app in mind but AstroShader feels very at home sitting on it. The only thing that’s really different is they are running a push to navigation system in their app to get you on target and I think they do have a near future tracker accessory that will work with gravity to turn it in to a full goto system. That accessory though is likely to cost as much as the scope

Well I'm sure they have their own plans for their app and know how to make it work best with their hardware. Also having a few apps out there is probably better for the end users ensuring some competition to keep pushing the limits. I am tempted to get one though, or the SeeStar S50.


Edited by GSBass, 27 March 2024 - 04:46 PM.

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#438 GeezerGazer

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Posted 27 March 2024 - 04:49 PM

Just to reassure everyone I have absolutely no plans to charge users for the app any time soon. I've also publicly committed to keep it free on another forum too.

 

However, the discussion about long term sustainability is definitely worth thinking about. On reflection and above the other considerations—the main concern is that there is at least one person committed to keeping it maintained and available on the app store(s), so if for any reason I needed to stop this would be the priority beyond open-sourcing, payment models, etc.

 

Developing AstroShader was actually a way to help push forward another unrelated piece of technology—which is quite nice as it means simply making a working version is a positive outcome for me!

AS phonetography is essentially EAA, but without the complication.  It meets my needs and I have no desire to get deeper into the AP woods.  But I also believe that it is an excellent starting place for those who want to get their feet wet, before migrating into a more critical type of AP.  Nighttime phonetography has its limits, but AS has taken it to another level.  And, by permitting photos from a tracking OR a non-tracking mount, it has opened the door to many more potential users, with vastly different optics, or even no extra optics, using just the phone.  

 

If you decide to charge for the app, I'd be first in line to buy it!  As for open-source, I have no skills that would be of use; keeping the app sustainable is beyond me.  


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#439 Domdron

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Posted 28 March 2024 - 12:02 AM

As for open-source, I have no skills that would be of use; keeping the app sustainable is beyond me.  

Yes, you do! It's a myth that only programmers contribute to open source (OS). A well-run OS project has well written documentation and tutorials, a well-designed and up-to-date website, keeps the user base updated regularly about current developments and road map, involves the users in creating the latter, thereby creating an active user base which are actively reports issues and makes feature requests, and probably some more things that I've forgotten. All of these activities can be done by folks without any coding skills!

 

As a good example in our domain, look e.g. at Siril, their tutorials, its documentation, and their forum, and in-app tooltips (below) which explain every control very well:

 

Monosnap_2024-03-28_07-58-26.png

 

In fact, I think that most OS projects can benefit a lot from non-developer contributions, as it involves different perspectives, and will make OS software better.

 


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#440 The Science Golfer

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Posted 28 March 2024 - 12:50 AM

It finally cleared up long enough for me to go out and image tonight. The following image of Messier 46 was taken from my Bortle 5 zone with the same equipment as the last one. I did 200 frames at 7 seconds exposure each and ISO 800. I realigned after every 10% (20 frames or so). This image is very pleasing to me not just because of the large number of stars, but because I also caught the faint, magnitude 10.8 planetary nebula NGC 2438 near the bottom of the cluster! This is the faintest single object I have ever imaged. I cannot even see it visually through the telescope. Here is the link: https://ibb.co/BKr09Cg

 

Photographs like these are the fruits of your labor, astrshdr, so enjoy!

 

I like Dom’s idea for the short term. I think if you could add tipping as an in app purchase, it would at least give people the option to give back to AstroShader. :)
 

I do have one question: has anyone else ever had the auto align function fail when imaging fainter targets or when there are fewer stars in the field of view? Last week, I attempted to photograph the Whirlpool Galaxy (Messier 51) with the same settings as tonight’s image, but the image was ruined because the auto align feature quit working. I then attempted two more unsuccessful images of the same target. Is there a way that you can make the alignment feature work even if there are only say three or four stars visible in the camera’s field of view? I would really like to try imaging some galaxies with AS but will have a hard time if the auto align failures did indeed result from there being too few stars in the FOV…

 

Otherwise AS is fantastic! Thank you again for all your work on the app! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

 

Clear skies, 
 

Tyler


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#441 Domdron

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Posted 28 March 2024 - 03:05 AM

I do have one question: has anyone else ever had the auto align function fail when imaging fainter targets or when there are fewer stars in the field of view? Last week, I attempted to photograph the Whirlpool Galaxy (Messier 51) with the same settings as tonight’s image, but the image was ruined because the auto align feature quit working. I then attempted two more unsuccessful images of the same target. Is there a way that you can make the alignment feature work even if there are only say three or four stars visible in the camera’s field of view? I would really like to try imaging some galaxies with AS but will have a hard time if the auto align failures did indeed result from there being too few stars in the FOV…

Yes, that's an issue which was discussed previously in this thread, e.g. astrshdr, on 13 Mar 2024 - 2:29 PM, said:

 

I'm fairly sure the alignment issues here are due to a combo of how dark the image is and movement between frames. The challenge is the signal to noise ratios in these types of images make it hard to align features. To be honest this has been a perennial challenge with the app and I'm going to take another look at the alignment in general as this is the only way to improve things further.

GeezerGazer recently also quoted astrshdr on the different alignment modes

 

The light setting will be more accurate but not work in light polluted areas or with very little stars or poor contrast, vs heavy that may not align as accurately but will do better with less detail in the image. So I would say start with light if you can and if it can't align try medium or heavy.

"heavy" = "Strong" in the app. However, as astroshdr mentioned, further improvements might be coming, and the app has already improved on this quite a bit from earlier versions. 


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#442 joezerneem

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Posted 28 March 2024 - 06:43 AM

I do have one question: has anyone else ever had the auto align function fail when imaging fainter targets or when there are fewer stars in the field of view? 

 

Yes, same problem here. I tried M51 several times with my manual 10 inch Dobsonian at 40x (Bortle 6), but always failed. Setting Medium or Strong alignment didn't help. In fact, until now these alignment settings have not shown an improvement for me yet.
M3 also failed. In both cases I suspect too few / too faint stars (contrast with the background) for alignment.


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#443 astrshdr

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Posted 28 March 2024 - 10:18 AM

It finally cleared up long enough for me to go out and image tonight. The following image of Messier 46 was taken from my Bortle 5 zone with the same equipment as the last one. I did 200 frames at 7 seconds exposure each and ISO 800. I realigned after every 10% (20 frames or so). This image is very pleasing to me not just because of the large number of stars, but because I also caught the faint, magnitude 10.8 planetary nebula NGC 2438 near the bottom of the cluster! This is the faintest single object I have ever imaged. I cannot even see it visually through the telescope. Here is the link: https://ibb.co/BKr09Cg

 

Photographs like these are the fruits of your labor, astrshdr, so enjoy!

 

I like Dom’s idea for the short term. I think if you could add tipping as an in app purchase, it would at least give people the option to give back to AstroShader. smile.gif
 

I do have one question: has anyone else ever had the auto align function fail when imaging fainter targets or when there are fewer stars in the field of view? Last week, I attempted to photograph the Whirlpool Galaxy (Messier 51) with the same settings as tonight’s image, but the image was ruined because the auto align feature quit working. I then attempted two more unsuccessful images of the same target. Is there a way that you can make the alignment feature work even if there are only say three or four stars visible in the camera’s field of view? I would really like to try imaging some galaxies with AS but will have a hard time if the auto align failures did indeed result from there being too few stars in the FOV…

 

Otherwise AS is fantastic! Thank you again for all your work on the app! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

 

Clear skies, 
 

Tyler

Yes, same problem here. I tried M51 several times with my manual 10 inch Dobsonian at 40x (Bortle 6), but always failed. Setting Medium or Strong alignment didn't help. In fact, until now these alignment settings have not shown an improvement for me yet.
M3 also failed. In both cases I suspect too few / too faint stars (contrast with the background) for alignment.

 

If either of you have an original unedited version of the failed image, or even better a single exposure that would be really helpful to debug... Thank you!

 

Also have either of you tried the latest release? It may not have fixed it, but the last updated made some changes that might have helped

 

 

Overall, as Domdon says it's essentially down to signal-to-noise ratio. The other factor is magnification, but if you've successfully imaged at x40 then probably not this.


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#444 joezerneem

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Posted 28 March 2024 - 11:24 AM

If either of you have an original unedited version of the failed image, or even better a single exposure that would be really helpful to debug... Thank you!

 

Also have either of you tried the latest release? It may not have fixed it, but the last updated made some changes that might have helped

 

 

Overall, as Domdon says it's essentially down to signal-to-noise ratio. The other factor is magnification, but if you've successfully imaged at x40 then probably not this.

Unfortunately I had no chance to try the latest version with my telescope yet. The issues were with the previous version of AS.

 

I didn't keep the failed or single exposure images, but I'll put M51 on my TODO list again for the next session (with the latest AS version), using different settings and then keep the images.

 

By the way, I tried the app on my iPhone 6S inside the house on casual things, but using the "highlight images" button causes crashes regularly (memory issue?).


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#445 GeezerGazer

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Posted 28 March 2024 - 12:43 PM

I have tried M51 twice with AS through glass eyepieces (no Night Vision Device) in my 8" Newt and failed to capture a satisfactory image both times from my home, a bright LP red zone, Bortle 7-8... using a non-tracking mount.  M51is relatively faint compared to point light sources like clusters and there are few bright stars in the FoV at about 76x.  I even tried using 640nm and then a 685nm IR long pass filters to block the majority of LP without success.  When using the non-tracking mount, the phone was working at a huge disadvantage with exposure times set to .3 second.  But even at 4-5 sec exposures with ISO set to 16,000 on the tracking mount, results from home were dismal, partly due to atmospheric dispersion (high humidity) combined with high levels of LP (this attempt just a couple of weeks ago).  

 

On 11 April 2023, I used AS with my 8" f:4 Newt and a 2.5x Powermate with Night Vision in prime focus to collect a decent image at f:10, 76x from a tracking mount (ISO 250 with 60, 5 sec subs.  NV provides a huge advantage!  But just as important, this image was taken from a LP green zone, Bortle 4-5.  I have not been able to duplicate this image from my red-zone home even when using a tracking mount and night vision.  My conclusion is that AS was working properly to align the 60 subs in this much brighter image, and that signal to noise is the culprit for alignment failure at my red-zone home using glass eyepieces.   

 

IMG_9001.jpeg

 

 


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#446 GeezerGazer

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Posted 28 March 2024 - 01:56 PM

By the way, I tried the app on my iPhone 6S inside the house on casual things, but using the "highlight images" button causes crashes regularly (memory issue?).

On the rare occasion when I have a problem with AS, it is usually after an update.  So I power my phone off to re-boot, and then re-open the app which has always resolved issues.  

 

Lack of adequate memory could be an issue, if your phone has limited memory storage available.  You can open Settings > General > iPhone Storage, to find how much storage is currently available.  

 

The issue may be that the 6S is 9 generations old; its processor is slower than the current iPhones; and, AS is doing some heavy lifting.  But there are others here who also use the 6 series iPhone.

 

For sure, try re-booting as a first step to solving the crash problem! 

Good luck. 

Ray


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#447 joezerneem

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Posted 28 March 2024 - 04:29 PM

Lack of adequate memory could be an issue, if your phone has limited memory storage available.  You can open Settings > General > iPhone Storage, to find how much storage is currently available.  

 

There is still 4.5 GB available (of 16 GB).

 

 

On the rare occasion when I have a problem with AS, it is usually after an update.  So I power my phone off to re-boot, and then re-open the app which has always resolved issues.  

 

I tried re-booting my iPhone and re-opening the app, but I still experience crashes. Sometimes immediately after pushing the "highlight images" button, sometimes later on. And sometimes everything works just fine.

Anyway, thanks for the suggestion!

 

Without using this feature, I don't seem to have issues (except rarely, when using the Astroshader Tools. But that improved a lot after one of the updates where this issue was addressed).


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#448 GSBass

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Posted 28 March 2024 - 09:12 PM

Got to go out and play tonight, just shot Orion again with hestia, left is gravity, center it using a bak mask on hestia and right is using the AstroShader app, still getting movement on stars during stacking no matter what app I use, I guess it’s just the movement in 1 sec

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Edited by GSBass, 29 March 2024 - 09:15 AM.

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#449 The Science Golfer

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Posted 28 March 2024 - 11:55 PM

Got to go out and play tonight, just shot Orion again with hestia, left is gravity, center it using a bak mask on hestia and left is using the AstroShader app, still getting movement on stars during stacking no matter what app I use, I guess it’s just the movement in 1 sec

Nicely done!


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#450 The Science Golfer

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Posted 29 March 2024 - 12:01 AM

I have tried M51 twice with AS through glass eyepieces (no Night Vision Device) in my 8" Newt and failed to capture a satisfactory image both times from my home, a bright LP red zone, Bortle 7-8... using a non-tracking mount.  M51is relatively faint compared to point light sources like clusters and there are few bright stars in the FoV at about 76x.  I even tried using 640nm and then a 685nm IR long pass filters to block the majority of LP without success.  When using the non-tracking mount, the phone was working at a huge disadvantage with exposure times set to .3 second.  But even at 4-5 sec exposures with ISO set to 16,000 on the tracking mount, results from home were dismal, partly due to atmospheric dispersion (high humidity) combined with high levels of LP (this attempt just a couple of weeks ago).  

 

On 11 April 2023, I used AS with my 8" f:4 Newt and a 2.5x Powermate with Night Vision in prime focus to collect a decent image at f:10, 76x from a tracking mount (ISO 250 with 60, 5 sec subs.  NV provides a huge advantage!  But just as important, this image was taken from a LP green zone, Bortle 4-5.  I have not been able to duplicate this image from my red-zone home even when using a tracking mount and night vision.  My conclusion is that AS was working properly to align the 60 subs in this much brighter image, and that signal to noise is the culprit for alignment failure at my red-zone home using glass eyepieces.   

 

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Thanks, Ray, that gives me a lot of insight! I didn’t even know such eyepieces existed. I found several night vision eyepieces on the internet, with a pretty wide range of prices. Which one did you use for that image, and would you recommend it?

 

Tyler




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