Some Software

Here are links to some astro software that I have written, and is available for free download:

  • Spiral Scanner : This program allows the user of an astronomical telescope to initiate a spiral scan when looking for an object that is expected to be slightly outside the current field of view. It communicates with the telescope mount via a standard Windows COM port. The mount should implement the following commands of the LX200 protocol: Mn, Ms, Me, Mw, and Q. To use the program, connect the mount and point it as closely as you can in the required direction. Select the COM port using the spin edit button and press the CONNECT button. The result of the attempt to connect is shown in the status panel at the bottom of the window. Set the camera and telescope parameters in the appropriate windows. It is suggested that you use a high guide rate until the object is found, then switch back to your normal rate for viewing or auto-guiding. Also make sure to align the camera so that its horizontal axis corresponds with east/west movements, and its vertical axis with north/south. The actual duration of each move is limited to about 90% of the nominal to give some overlap. The program remembers your settings from the previous session, but if you want to use more than one setup then you can save and retrieve as many individual setups as you wish, using the File menu Load and Save options. The current field of view is represented by a hatched red pattern in the matrix box. If the current field of view does not show the required object then press and release the STEP button. The telescope should start to move, and the caption should say 'Wait . . .' until the move is completed. The old field of view is represented by a solid red colour. The duration of the move is timed to the nearest 1/18 second, and is derived from the figures entered previously. When complete, the new field of view is shown by a hatched red pattern as before. You can continue stepping until the object is found, or a total of 48 steps have been made. If you want to start again making the current field of view the new starting point, then press the RESET button.
  • Filter Wheel : A programme to control a True Technology filter wheel in stand alone mode. It can search for the correct COM port, or you can set it manually. The attached small text file defines the names of each filter, and should reside in the same directory.
  • Gemini Setup : A programme to setup the Losmandy Gemini mount controller. It will save time in programming many of the settings, especially after a CMOS reset has occured. It can save and load the settings to and from a file.
  • LRGB imager for AstroArt : An AstroArt script to automate the taking of LRGB images with a filter wheel. Different binnings can be specified for the luminance and colour images. Individual exposure times are specified for each of the L, R, G & B images. Any sequence and combination of L, R, G & B images can be specified, for example 'LLRGB' specifies 2 luminance shots followed by 1 each R G and B.
  • LRGB imager for MaxIm DL : A similar script for Maxim DL. This one is rather more flexible; it accomodates any filter names including narrowband ones as well, providing each name starts with a different letter, not including "F". You need to set the path inside the script before use.
  • A catalogue of G2V (i.e. white) stars for SkyMap Pro : This is a pre-compiled catalogue of the 688 G2V stars between magnitude 6 and 11, specified in Hipparcos G2V Spectroscopic Standard Stars Such stars may be used to adjust the colour balance of astro images. Each star appears as a green triangle on the SkyMap Pro page. Install it by going to File | Preferences | External Data | Data Catalogs | Add, and switch it on and off by using the bookshelf 'Catalogs and Overlays' icon on the right of the standard screen layout. Note that these white stars should generate RGB values that are not exactly equal, as you might expect, see What color are the stars? for more information. For more precision you need to allow for differing atmospheric extinction at different elevation angles. Also I have been advised by Wolfgang Renz that the stars listed are those with 'true' spectral classifications of G2V, and thus they will be subject to the effects of intergalactic obscuration as seen at Earth.
  • A catalogue of all 338 Arp unusual galaxies for SkyMap Pro : This is a pre-compiled catalogue of all 338 Arp unusual galaxies as listed in Arp Objects . . .. Install and switch it on and off as above.
  • A catalogue of the bright stars used for alignment in the Losmandy G11 for SkyMap Pro : Install and switch it on and off as above.
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