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Latest Threads
Non-Supernovae in the Cur...
Forum: Developer's Corner
Last Post: theskyhound
2020-10-05, 05:10 PM
» Replies: 0
» Views: 1,970
SkyTools 4 Visual is Fina...
Forum: Developer's Corner
Last Post: theskyhound
2020-03-16, 12:09 AM
» Replies: 0
» Views: 18,033
The Interstellar Comet
Forum: Developer's Corner
Last Post: theskyhound
2020-03-15, 06:26 PM
» Replies: 8
» Views: 18,209
SkyTools and Windows 10 S
Forum: Developer's Corner
Last Post: theskyhound
2019-11-15, 06:30 PM
» Replies: 0
» Views: 7,658
On the Meaning of the wor...
Forum: Developer's Corner
Last Post: theskyhound
2019-09-13, 09:30 PM
» Replies: 2
» Views: 8,520
Going to Okie-Tex
Forum: Developer's Corner
Last Post: theskyhound
2019-09-01, 09:51 PM
» Replies: 0
» Views: 5,116
Bitdefender Problems Cont...
Forum: Developer's Corner
Last Post: theskyhound
2019-08-01, 07:13 PM
» Replies: 1
» Views: 7,988
Ongoing problems wiith Co...
Forum: Developer's Corner
Last Post: theskyhound
2019-08-01, 06:33 PM
» Replies: 0
» Views: 5,293
Going to the Texas Star P...
Forum: Developer's Corner
Last Post: theskyhound
2019-04-27, 10:30 PM
» Replies: 0
» Views: 9,792
Going to NEAIC
Forum: Developer's Corner
Last Post: theskyhound
2019-03-28, 10:13 PM
» Replies: 0
» Views: 8,623

 
  Non-Supernovae in the Current SN and Nova List
Posted by: theskyhound - 2020-10-05, 05:10 PM - Forum: Developer's Corner - No Replies

Hello,

It has come to my attention that some cataclysmic variables have been making their way into the current Nova & Supernovae lists. I have taken steps to filter these out, but a few bright ones may remain for some time. When opened in the Object Info they will be marked as "Nova" rather than supernova.

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  SkyTools 4 Visual is Finally Here
Posted by: theskyhound - 2020-03-16, 12:09 AM - Forum: Developer's Corner - No Replies

Hello everyone,

It has been a long road to the release of SkyTools 4 Visual. There were so many changes made, both large and small, that it had to be thoroughly tested and debugged--to a much higher degree than had I had anticipated. We started the test process at the end of November, and I expected it to only take a few weeks. I was very determined to have it ready before Christmas, but despite long hours, and the best test team ever, that was not to be. When the new year came, I decided to take some extra time to finish the job as thoroughly as possible. There were so many weeks that I was absolutely convinced would be the last, followed by so many days that I was equally convinced would be the last. But every day brought a new set of challenges, from bugs to obscure features that were not yet properly finished. At each step, what I thought would take an hour or two would take days. Even when it was done, it wasn't really done! After stealth-releasing it without any sort of announcement, it took a full week to get all aspects of the web site ordering working properly.

In the end, it is tested, finished, and polished as thoroughly as possible. There will, of course, be problems--there always are--but I know that we gave it our all and that we did not release it until it was ready. 

The Test Team
All of us owe a huge debt of gratitude to the Best Test Team Ever. They worked long hours and tested everything to the breaking point. They made useful suggestions and asked insightful questions that forced me to re-evaluate decisions. It was really hard work, but it was also a lot of fun. They can be proud of a job very well done and without real compensation. You will see many of the team members here on the forum answering questions, and sharing their expertise on SkyTools 4. I cannot begin to express my appreciation and am dumbfounded that people would devote so much time and energy to this project.

Editions and Choices
In the end, SkyTools 4 is two products, SkyTools Imaging, which comes in a single edition, and SkyTools Visual, which comes in three editions: Standard, Standard plus Real Time, and Pro. Real Time is devoted to use in the field at the telescope and features the new SkyTour. As before, it also includes the telescope control interface. The Pro Edition includes Real Time along with a deeper database and other advanced features. 

SkyTools 4 Visual + Imaging Bundle
The bundle shares the core data and much of the basic code between the imaging and visual versions of SkyTools. It is two separate apps, and yet in many ways it is a single app. If you have the bundle, things like the current data downloads and software updates are shared between the two, but they run completely separately. They will always be the same version, so there is no need to apply software updates more than once. 

If you have any questions about SkyTools 4, please feel free to ask.

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  SkyTools and Windows 10 S
Posted by: theskyhound - 2019-11-15, 06:30 PM - Forum: Developer's Corner - No Replies

Many new Windows devices are now being offered with Windows 10 S. This is a limited version of Windows, and one of its features is that, in its default state, software can only be installed via the Windows Store. SkyTools is not available via the Windows Store, and it is unlikely to be anytime soon.

Any version of SkyTools can be run on a Windows 10 S device, but to do so, the Windows 10 "S" mode must be disabled. This is relatively easy to do, but once disabled there is no way to go back.

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  The Interstellar Comet
Posted by: theskyhound - 2019-09-13, 07:12 PM - Forum: Developer's Corner - Replies (8)

I have written an article about C/2019 Q4 (Borisov), the interstellar comet.

https://skyhound.com/2019_Q4.html

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  Going to Okie-Tex
Posted by: theskyhound - 2019-09-01, 09:51 PM - Forum: Developer's Corner - No Replies

I will be attending Okie-Tex Star Party later this month. We will be there for the first weekend through Monday. We will have a table in the vendor area so please stop by and say hello.

I will be showing off both SkyTools 4 Visual and SkyTools 4 Imaging.

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  Ongoing problems wiith Comets at the Minor Planet Center
Posted by: theskyhound - 2019-08-01, 06:33 PM - Forum: Developer's Corner - No Replies

Hello everyone,

I wanted to make everyone aware of the fact that, after a server failure in June, the Minor Planet Center has been struggling to update their comet database. New comets have not been added, and the orbits for exiting ones have not been updated. I am updating the SkyTools comet databases today. I have found other ways to update my own databases. For comets bright enough to be observed visually, there should be no problems as long as everyone updates their current lists, which will have the latest data.

For faint comets, particularly those that have been recently discovered, there may be some problems for those using SkyTools 4 imaging. These are comets that are not published in the Current Comets target list. In particular, since the Observable Comets from the MPC is no longer being updated, downloading it will not add new comets or update those that have been recently discovered. There are two solutions to this problem:

1. Open Comets from the top level Data menu. Select Download Single Comet. Type the designation of a comet that you want to update or add to your database. Close the dialog afterward.

2. I have already updated my own ST4 database, so if you would like the most recent comet data contact me, and I will create a Target List with these recently updated comets in it and make it available you. When you read this target list into ST4 the comet database will be updated.

Note: when you download the MPC Observable Comets in SkyTools 4 there is a small bug that will show that a few comets have been added and updated. This bug is harmless, but misleading. Don't believe the numbers if it says only a few comets have been added. It is likely that nothing has been added or updated. I will have a fix for this in the next update.

I will post here once the MPC has resolved their problems.

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  Going to the Texas Star Party
Posted by: theskyhound - 2019-04-27, 10:30 PM - Forum: Developer's Corner - No Replies

I should have mentioned this sooner, but I've been crazy busy lately. I will be attending the TSP for the first time (long story), arriving on Thursday afternoon. We will have a table in the Vendor area so I shouldn't be too hard to find.

Questions about SkyTools 4 Visual are strictly forbidden!

(just kidding)

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  Going to NEAIC
Posted by: theskyhound - 2019-03-28, 10:13 PM - Forum: Developer's Corner - No Replies

Hello everyone,

I will be attending the Northeast Astro-Imaging Conference next week. We will have a vendor table. If you are going, please consider stopping by for a chat!

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  Bitdefender Problems Continue
Posted by: theskyhound - 2019-03-04, 06:22 PM - Forum: Developer's Corner - Replies (1)

The anti-virus software Bitdefender has been wreaking havoc with SkyTools 4 Imaging installs, and is now doing the same with SkyTools 3. It is apparently removing or blocking database files during the installation of SkyTools. When started, SkyTools can fail in any number of strange ways. This has caused a great deal of trouble and cost me a lot of my time, reaching the point now where the first thing that I ask when a customer seeking support is what anti-virus is running.

If you run into obvious head-scratching problems soon after installation, please uninstall SkyTools. Delete the "SkyTools 3" or "SkyTools 4" folder in your Documents area. Disable Bitdefender. Re-install. Note that deleting these folders will delete all of your custom data, so I do not recommend doing so if you have spent a great deal of time configuring your instruments. If you don't want to lose your data, please contact me for support.

Database files are very unlikely to harbor dangers to your computer. But more to the point, it is unconscionable for Bitdefender to be removing or interfering with your database files without a big obvious warning to the user. The failure to do so means that I cannot recommend that SkyTools users continue to use Bitdefender. The anti-virus that comes with Windows is sufficient and does not interfere with the working of your software.

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  On the Meaning of the word "Observing"
Posted by: theskyhound - 2019-03-04, 05:45 PM - Forum: Developer's Corner - Replies (2)

Hello everyone,

In recent years there has been a trend in amateur astronomy that I find to be needlessly confusing. That is the trend toward calling visual observation "observing." This appears to be driven by the amateur imagers among us, who are looking for a quick counter to the word "imaging." 

The problem is that this is a misuse of the word "observing." Consider that professional astronomers are broken into two main camps: theoreticians, and those who do observational astronomy. When an observational astronomer uses a telescope, regardless of what instrument is attached, he/she is said to be "observing" and making "observations," and this has not meant looking through a telescope in a very long time. In short, observing is the collection of observational data as opposed to theory. In my opinion, it should not be used to describe looking through the telescope only.

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