Import from SkyTools3?


#1

After researching the best planning software and purchasing it, I was a bit disappointment to see auto import profiles for the competition and not SkyTools. Is there another way to import that I don’t know about?


#2

Not at the moment. Adding importers is pretty easy though. The problem with complex tools like SkyTools is understanding the variability of export files. Neither Jared or I are familiar with SkyTools (unfortunately) and sometimes there are a host of options that can change what the export format looks like. Understanding the breadth of these permutations is the only reason it takes any time really…

All that said, the target import system is really only meant to be used by folks that have a bunch of targets, supernova, asteroid hunters etc (typically 25 or more in one sequence)… What is driving you toward needing target import as a solution for your sequences? SGPro does currently have a couple fairly friendly ways of adding targets into a sequence (not super great when you need to add 25 targets, but pretty good otherwise).


#3

What is driving you toward needing target import as a solution for your sequences?

Pure laziness Ken. It’s actually not a necessity. I’m not a programmer but I can understand what you’re saying about the variability of export files from skytools.

The way SGPro imports target information is fantastic already, I don’t mean to complain. At this point in time, I’m lucky if I get any targets after spending a night out, I’m brand new to this hobby and still figuring out which software to combine.

As soon as I tried SGPro I wanted to build my other software around it, as this software is easy to use, intuitive, automated, well laid out, and the plate solving works amazing. I threw a bunch of random images at it from previous nights out, and it solved every one. This software is really great.


#4

Well not to plug ourselves but I’d probably recommend the Framing and Mosaic Wizard for selecting and framing targets. It’s purpose built exactly for that. If you don’t already own it you can start a trial for it in the “License Management” area of SGP.

Thanks,
Jared


#5

Jared, getting SGPro without Framing and Mosaic Wizard would be like buying a Muscle car with a V6. I will post a picture, of the picture, framed on my wall, after I get PHD2 tuned up :unamused:


#6

Personally, I think importing from any planner program is a bad way to do things. The problem is that it will simply import the coordinates from whatever catalog. This is rarely (in fact almost never) the proper framing for your system and taste. Don’t get me wrong, I have Skytools and use it for planning what to image but just importing from it is just not going to do what I want.

I have found that the only way that works perfectly every time, can be done ahead of time, and gives me dead-on FOV customized to my wishes is to:

  1. Get a list of objects in good sky position using ST3 or similar.

  2. Find an image of the desired object on the web, which also lets me decide if it is what I want.

  3. Then use a planetarium program that displays my FOV (I use TSX but there are many) and use Photoshop or similar to crop and orient the downloaded sample image to match my desired FOV by matching the star patterns from TSX to the downloaded image (sorry, this is by eyeball).

  4. Locate the center of the image/FOV and copy the coordinates to SGP.

Sure, you can automate from some SW but that is either going to give you catalog centering or someone else’s centering. Of course you could do test images but that is a big waste of time. Doing it my way takes a while but it is daytime and not wasted imaging time. I get the FOV and framing exact every single time so as to maximize use of time and quality.

I bought the wizard but just never use it since my method gives me what I want more accurately. My way is more like a V12 Ferrari - lots of fussing in the garage but perfect performance on the road.

So the bottom line for me is that although importing from external sources (of any kind) can work, it rarely gives one exactly what one wants and will require tweaking at the least.


#7

I didn’t think you were complaining… just like to ask in case folks have use cases we did not consider.


#8

Yes, exactly what I want. Your way will save me time in the field and rather than import someone else’s frame, I’d prefer to customize my own, having creative control over of the imaging process. For me, the framing wizard is mainly for panoramic pictures or pictures can’t fit in a single frame.

CCDMan, interesting that you have TSX but choose to use SGPro. I was leaning towards it until I found SGPro. I thought TSX was a somewhat complete package including plate solving and image acquisition with the add on. Is there any reason you would or would not recommend it? Thanks.


#9

TSX only because I already had the Paramount ME. SGP MUCH better for sequences and camera control, IMHO.


#10

@Gemini

You used the word “customize” and “field” in the same sentence so I am just making sure that you know the MFW needs an internet connection to fetch the working canvas. Once you have a canvas though, it is cached and you can work with it later in the field. If you have not done this and you have no internet connection, the MFW is not useful.


#11

100% comprende Ken, thanks.


#12

For what its worth, the developer of Skytools has mentioned he might add an export file compatible with SGP in his next version. I do often copy coordinates from Skytools into SGP by the somewhat crude method of copy paste. I often do it when I’m hunting individual stars and asteroids when I’m more interested in an object being in a particular point (center) vs framing a deep sky object when I’d just use the framing wizard.


#13

My ST3 Pro recently updated to version 3.2i, but still the limited Export Observing List function with a) “Simple Text Format” that must be mostly for transfer between ST-installations due to database references, and b) SkySafari format.
Parsing the latter might actually not be such a bad idea for importing target lists in SGP.

Besides DSO imaging that I took up two years ago (not so long due to short seasons in Norway), I do a little visual and (despite the latitude) quite some planetary work. Would not be without an observation planner with ephemerides.
Started out with ST, but recently I also bought Knightware’s DSP to run along and see which one worked best for me.
Have not really got my head around the UI of DSP. It’s not that ST is intuitive in use, but DSP is maybe less. At least during the first meetings. And has a bit ugly lists (which is what observation planners is mostly about), that I can’t seen to be able to configure away.

So why do I mention DSP? Uses COM Automation to control external planetariums, works just great for SkyX and me. While ST has no such but an internal planetarium that we can say, in nice terms, has aged along with the rest of the application.
DSP uses OpenAstonomyLog (OAL) (https://github.com/openastronomylog/openastronomylog). Not currently used by many vendors, but this seems to be the only work ever done to have a standard of transferring observation plans and logs.
I asked Greg at Skyhound about future support for the OAL standard, and he said he would consider it if enough users asked for it.
I don’t expect much to happen with any of the currently most active planner software. I think most hobby astronomers feel that a planetarium is enough as planning software, so not exactly a big market.

But hey, just saw that DSP has direct support for SGP target lists: http://knightware.biz/dsp/images/export_sgp.jpg
(did not see it mentioned in the page that seems to be the fullest product description: http://mainsequencesoftware.com/Products/SGProCompare)

Oh, checked the CCDNavigator forum, and it is clear that they have no plans for supporting SGP. Maybe not what they want if the Import Target List in SGP takes just object names or coordinates. (will be more clear to me I hope, as I get to know SGP)

Will try SGP and maybe also the Framing and Mosaic Wizard tomorrow. Had expected to continue using exposure calculators etc in the planner software, so I’m curious about what SGP has to offer here :slight_smile:


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