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Are These Scheduling Features in Skytools 4?
#1
I am a ST3 user, have been evaluating CCDNav 3 and was getting ready to buy it for a few helpful features:

1)  Staircase scheduling - proposes an imaging schedule that takes elevation into account when selecting filters.  E.g., say you want 20 frames each of LRGB, it would propose a schedule like R 10, G 10, B 10 , L 20, B 10, G 10, R 10

2)  Multi-night project progress - specify total time wanted for each filter.  Proposes a schedule for first night.  Execute schedule, then update with actual number of frames captured.  Proposes schedule for next night.  Repeat until done.

3)  Multi-object scheduling - looks like this is included - schedule two or more objects for the night with times and filters based on elevation, distance from moon, probably other things I don't know.

4)  Propose objects for the night based on multiple criteria - usual criteria such as object type, size but also can sort on availability - total minutes available for imaging that night.

5)  Thumbnail display of possible targets for a visual search and selection, including saving of favorites for eventual imaging

6)  Integration with TheSkyX for object framing including center of field and rotation.  Doesn't have to be TheSkyX, I just like having the ability to visually click, drag and rotate to get coordinates and position angle info ready to feed into SequenceGeneratorPro for acquisition.

I love ST3 and would prefer to stick with a single program - any of these features be in ST4?

Thanks,
Rowland
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#2
(2017-11-15, 12:03 PM)Rowland Wrote: I am a ST3 user, have been evaluating CCDNav 3 and was getting ready to buy it for a few helpful features:

1)  Staircase scheduling - proposes an imaging schedule that takes elevation into account when selecting filters.  E.g., say you want 20 frames each of LRGB, it would propose a schedule like R 10, G 10, B 10 , L 20, B 10, G 10, R 10

2)  Multi-night project progress - specify total time wanted for each filter.  Proposes a schedule for first night.  Execute schedule, then update with actual number of frames captured.  Proposes schedule for next night.  Repeat until done.

3)  Multi-object scheduling - looks like this is included - schedule two or more objects for the night with times and filters based on elevation, distance from moon, probably other things I don't know.

4)  Propose objects for the night based on multiple criteria - usual criteria such as object type, size but also can sort on availability - total minutes available for imaging that night.

5)  Thumbnail display of possible targets for a visual search and selection, including saving of favorites for eventual imaging

6)  Integration with TheSkyX for object framing including center of field and rotation.  Doesn't have to be TheSkyX, I just like having the ability to visually click, drag and rotate to get coordinates and position angle info ready to feed into SequenceGeneratorPro for acquisition.

I love ST3 and would prefer to stick with a single program - any of these features be in ST4?

Thanks,
Rowland
Hi Rowland,
  On point 6 if Greg has existing integration with ACP just thinking aloud could the pinpoint info be fed to SGP for the platesolve (I use SGP integrated with pinpoint). Would provide a very accurate way to frame. Again just thinking aloud.
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#3
Hi -- not 100% sure of the workflow you are proposing. Can you elaborate on the main steps you are thinking about? My ideal integration with SGP would look something like this:

In ST4 you would:

a) Select one or more targets and frame them in ST4 - RA/Dec and position angle (PA)
b) ST4 comes up with an optimal filter / exposure sequence
c) For each target, ST4 exports to SGP the RA/Dec and PA and the filter/exposure sequence

Then with SGP:
a) Use that info to create a sequence populated with targets and events - an SGP event being a set of exposures defined by filter, exposure time and number of exposures
b) Run the sequence - and the first step for each target would include the slew / center on and rotate process with plate solving by Pinpoint (or whatever plate solve you are using)

Were you thinking of something else?

Thanks!
Rowland
Reply
#4
(2017-11-15, 12:03 PM)Rowland Wrote: I am a ST3 user, have been evaluating CCDNav 3 and was getting ready to buy it for a few helpful features:

1)  Staircase scheduling - proposes an imaging schedule that takes elevation into account when selecting filters.  E.g., say you want 20 frames each of LRGB, it would propose a schedule like R 10, G 10, B 10 , L 20, B 10, G 10, R 10

2)  Multi-night project progress - specify total time wanted for each filter.  Proposes a schedule for first night.  Execute schedule, then update with actual number of frames captured.  Proposes schedule for next night.  Repeat until done.

3)  Multi-object scheduling - looks like this is included - schedule two or more objects for the night with times and filters based on elevation, distance from moon, probably other things I don't know.

4)  Propose objects for the night based on multiple criteria - usual criteria such as object type, size but also can sort on availability - total minutes available for imaging that night.

5)  Thumbnail display of possible targets for a visual search and selection, including saving of favorites for eventual imaging

6)  Integration with TheSkyX for object framing including center of field and rotation.  Doesn't have to be TheSkyX, I just like having the ability to visually click, drag and rotate to get coordinates and position angle info ready to feed into SequenceGeneratorPro for acquisition.

I love ST3 and would prefer to stick with a single program - any of these features be in ST4?

Thanks,
Rowland

Hi Rowland,

SkyTools 4 will do all of that (except for the integration with TheSky, but it has it's own charts). I dare say that ST4 will likely do all of these things better too, because of the scientific model of the atmosphere, telescope, camera, etc. Unlike ST3, I have had the opportunity to carefully test and refine the new model on a variety of systems, with highly accurate results. So, for example, the model is used to determine the best filter order (rather than just a crude altitude) and ST4 works for narrow band filters as well as LRGB. And because it can accurately predict the SNR of an image, you can specify your ultimate "exposure goal" in terms of SNR for each filter, which is very powerful. The ability to track the progress of your project and ultimately archive it, is also a major feature of ST4. One cool thing you can do is attach your final images to the project, and if they are plate solved, you can view them in the atlas or camera view with the stars, deep sky and objects, etc as an overlay.
Clear skies,
Greg

SkyTools Developer
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#5
(2017-11-15, 05:12 PM)Rowland Wrote: Hi -- not 100% sure of the workflow you are proposing.  Can you elaborate on the main steps you are thinking about?  My ideal integration with SGP would look something like this:

In ST4 you would:

a)  Select one or more targets and frame them in ST4 - RA/Dec and position angle (PA)
b)  ST4 comes up with an optimal filter / exposure sequence
c)  For each target, ST4 exports to SGP the RA/Dec and PA and the filter/exposure sequence

Then with SGP:
a) Use that info to create a sequence populated with targets and events - an SGP event being a set of exposures defined by filter, exposure time and number of exposures
b) Run the sequence - and the first step for each target would include the slew / center on and rotate process with plate solving by Pinpoint (or whatever plate solve you are using)

Were you thinking of something else?

Thanks!
Rowland

How Rowland,

Yes--that's basically how it would will work. The hard part was getting all the astronomy working: a new highly accurate scientific model for your imaging system that will work for any filter, and a basic set of algorithms that can optimize the scheduling for a variety of uses and constraints. As long as SGP works in a way that will allow SkyTools to do its thing, integration should not be difficult. I am looking forward to working with you and others to get this up and running for control systems other than ACP!
Clear skies,
Greg

SkyTools Developer
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#6
Hi Greg,

Thanks for the detailed response and that all sounds very exciting!

SGP currently imports targets from Astro Planner, Deep Sky Planner, Starry Nights, and takes a DSO-Browser list, so I'm sure Sky Tools could be supported. These imports are coded by the SGP developers, Ken and Jared, who seem quite open to collaboration. Of course one option would be to have ST4 export the target list in the same format as one of these.

The SGP API allows external software to control SGP - i.e., to send it commands to set filter, capture image, etc. Powerful, but probably not what we want here... although thinking about it, it would give you the hooks to implement something like ACP Expert's scheduler, which as you probably know, makes real time decisions about exactly which target, filter and exposure to shoot. I.e., if your imaging session gets delayed by clouds for a couple of hours - which happened to me this very night - the scheduler is smart enough to skip over the exposures that would have made sense earlier in the night and take the subs that make sense at that time. Wow, thinking about that gives me chills!

I'd be more than happy to help in any way I can.

Cheers,
Rowland

(2017-11-15, 05:27 PM)theskyhound Wrote:
(2017-11-15, 12:03 PM)Rowland Wrote: I am a ST3 user, have been evaluating CCDNav 3 and was getting ready to buy it for a few helpful features:

1)  Staircase scheduling - proposes an imaging schedule that takes elevation into account when selecting filters.  E.g., say you want 20 frames each of LRGB, it would propose a schedule like R 10, G 10, B 10 , L 20, B 10, G 10, R 10

2)  Multi-night project progress - specify total time wanted for each filter.  Proposes a schedule for first night.  Execute schedule, then update with actual number of frames captured.  Proposes schedule for next night.  Repeat until done.

3)  Multi-object scheduling - looks like this is included - schedule two or more objects for the night with times and filters based on elevation, distance from moon, probably other things I don't know.

4)  Propose objects for the night based on multiple criteria - usual criteria such as object type, size but also can sort on availability - total minutes available for imaging that night.

5)  Thumbnail display of possible targets for a visual search and selection, including saving of favorites for eventual imaging

6)  Integration with TheSkyX for object framing including center of field and rotation.  Doesn't have to be TheSkyX, I just like having the ability to visually click, drag and rotate to get coordinates and position angle info ready to feed into SequenceGeneratorPro for acquisition.

I love ST3 and would prefer to stick with a single program - any of these features be in ST4?

Thanks,
Rowland

Hi Rowland,

SkyTools 4 will do all of that (except for the integration with TheSky, but it has it's own charts). I dare say that ST4 will likely do all of these things better too, because of the scientific model of the atmosphere, telescope, camera, etc. Unlike ST3, I have had the opportunity to carefully test and refine the new model on a variety of systems, with highly accurate results. So, for example, the model is used to determine the best filter order (rather than just a crude altitude) and ST4 works for narrow band filters as well as LRGB. And because it can accurately predict the SNR of an image, you can specify your ultimate "exposure goal" in terms of SNR for each filter, which is very powerful. The ability to track the progress of your project and ultimately archive it, is also a major feature of ST4. One cool thing you can do is attach your final images to the project, and if they are plate solved, you can view them in the atlas or camera view with the stars, deep sky and objects, etc as an overlay.

Really good news Greg, I was hoping for NB filter support too as I do as much of that as LRGB.  

If we can get SGP integration working too, it would really be fantastic.  

Looking forward to ST4!

Cheers,
Rowland
Reply
#7
(2017-11-15, 05:12 PM)Rowland Wrote: Hi -- not 100% sure of the workflow you are proposing.  Can you elaborate on the main steps you are thinking about?  My ideal integration with SGP would look something like this:

In ST4 you would:

a)  Select one or more targets and frame them in ST4 - RA/Dec and position angle (PA)
b)  ST4 comes up with an optimal filter / exposure sequence
c)  For each target, ST4 exports to SGP the RA/Dec and PA and the filter/exposure sequence

Then with SGP:
a) Use that info to create a sequence populated with targets and events - an SGP event being a set of exposures defined by filter, exposure time and number of exposures
b) Run the sequence - and the first step for each target would include the slew / center on and rotate process with plate solving by Pinpoint (or whatever plate solve you are using)

Were you thinking of something else?

Thanks!
Rowland
Hi Rowland,
  Yes I think we are on the same page. I used pinpoint as an example as it part of the DC3 suite. But your correct it makes sense to let SGP handle that.

Cheers
Phil
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