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How to uninstall/ clean r...
Forum: SkyTools 4 Imaging
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About the SkyTools Imagin...
Forum: SkyTools 4 Imaging
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ST4 Crash Attempting to V...
Forum: SkyTools 4 Imaging
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Workflow - Just Wondering...
Forum: SkyTools 4 Imaging
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Edit Imaging System Shows...
Forum: SkyTools 4 Imaging
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2018-11-10, 09:24 PM
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Frustrated? I want to Hea...
Forum: SkyTools 4 Imaging
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Imaging Quality and Targe...
Forum: SkyTools 4 Imaging
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2018-11-06, 09:17 PM
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List export designations
Forum: SkyTools 3 General Discussion
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2018-11-06, 08:27 AM
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ST4 crash when trying to ...
Forum: SkyTools 4 Support
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2018-10-27, 08:08 AM
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  About the SkyTools Imaging Databases
Posted by: theskyhound - 8 hours ago - Forum: SkyTools 4 Imaging - No Replies


I have had several inquiries lately from people who were looking for specific catalogs in SkyTools 4. So I wanted to take a moment to explain how the SkyTools databases are built.

SkyTools doesn't merely open raw catalogs like the most other software. Raw catalogs are full of errors, and they are often limited in some way. I have built databases for each type of object from multiple catalogs, taking the best data available from each. One catalog may have the best positions, another may have better magnitude, size or other data. So there is no one catalog that you can look for in SkyTools. If you ask me if the Gagawagno catalog is in SkyTools, I can't give you a definitive answer. All I can do is assure you that the best of the Gagawagno will be there in the database, and say whether or not there are Gagawagno cross references available.

Once a database is built for, say, Supernova Remnants, or Planetary Nebulae, the next step is to create cross reference databases. Each object may be known by a common name, or NGC number, but they may also be known by more obscure designations from other catalogs. The majority of objects only have these obscure designations. A great deal of effort has been made to create complete cross references for designations from the major catalogs that amateurs use.

As an example, the following cross references are available for galaxies: Common name, Messier, NGC, IC, Arp, Markarian, MCG, UGC, UGCA, RFGC, ESO, Z, Heschel, PCG and LEDA.

So how do you access these catalogs? It is important to realize that the target lists for the Target Selection Tool are not themselves catalogs, even though some are called Messier or Caldwell. These are in fact just lists of targets. There are several ways to make your own:

1. Use the Database Power Search Tool. Access this via the "Get Target Lists" menu of the Target Selection Tool. This is a very sophisticated search engine that can make you many different kinds of target lists. For instance, you could search the 1.5-million galaxy database for only very thin galaxies, list the most distant quasars in Virgo, or make a list of Cubewano minor planets.

2. Press the "Add Objects" button. This opens the Designation Search dialog. This dialog is used to look up specific objects. For most objects you can simply enter a designation and press Search. But notice that there is also a Browse tab. Sometimes a designation is not formatted in a way that SkyTools can recognize, although a lot of effort has been put into recognizing different formats. But that does not mean the object isn't in the database.

For example, lets say you typed "MCG-1-1-13" (without a space). SkyTools may not recognize it, because in order to help it recognize the many different designations, it needs a space between "MCG" and the rest. You may also have inadvertently typed MGC. In the end, the galaxy is not found. If you open the Browse tab, select Galaxies, and then "MCG" as the catalog, all of the MCG galaxies will appear on the right. Note how the designations are formatted. This tells you to try putting in a space or reminds you that it is MCG. Yould could also scroll down to your object, or type part of the designation at the top to find it.

So what if you can't find an object at all? Try opening the Atlas. If you have coordinates, click in the upper left to open the Object Requestor, then select the "Enter Coordinates" tab. Type in the RA and Dec, press Accept to the right, and then Accept at the bottom. Does the object appear on the chart? Be sure to use the "Set" button under "Mag Limits" to set the magnitude limit for this type of object to very faint, and maybe zoom in closer. Ninety nine out of one hundred times the object will be right where you expect it to be. Put the cursor over it and open the Object Info. Note the designation you need to enter into SkyTools for this object.

If you can't find an object, or find an error, please let me know. I will work to update and fix the database or add the object to a Supplemental database.

I have spent more than 20 years developing these databases, using my training as a professional astronomer to get it right. Sadly, some my competitors have made some pretty outrageous claims about their own databases in an attempt to make them appear to be as comprehensive as SkyTools. They are not.

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  How to uninstall/ clean reinstall ST4 Imaging?
Posted by: PMSchu - 2018-11-11, 11:26 PM - Forum: SkyTools 4 Imaging - Replies (5)

Hi Greg,

I've been trying to sort out my imaging systems issues. I want to use a DSLR camera (Canon 7DMk2) on a scope (Meade LXD-75 SN-10"), piggybacked on the scope and mounted on a small EQ mount with camera lenses (e.g 18 - 500mm). While doing this I corrupted one of the default imaging systems (Canon 60Da on EQ mount) and lost the camera lenses associated with the default system. Before the uninstall, I copied the 'Documents/Skyhound/Skytools 4 ' folder to another hard drive. Then I uninstalled ST4 Imaging and deleted the original 'Documents/Skyhound/Skytools 4 ' folder.

I reinstalled ST4 Imaging from the USB, started it & updated to v4.0b. The default imaging systems were restored  Smile . I opened my imaging systems from my backup location using the file Open option in the Imaging System dialog box to get back to where I was yesterday. Unfortunately the Sigma lenses shown for the  default Canon 60Da system have all been replaced with a 500mm f/4 lens from my imaging system Sad . All seemed OK until I tried to recover my previously created imaging systems by pulling them back in from the saved folder on the backup hard drive. I uninstalled again and deleted the new 'Documents/Skyhound/Skytools 4 ' folder. I reinstalled using the downloaded Skytools4Setup.exe file and updated to v4.0b again.

I thought the uninstall, followed by removal of the 'Documents/Skyhound/Skytools 4 ' folder would yield a clean install and it looked like all was OK. All my customizations were removed, as expected. My recovered imaging systems for 'Piggyback' and 'Camera Only' aren't showing the correct camera lenses either. Before the uninstall/reinstall the camera lenses were correct at least.

Any suggestions for how to get back to where I was yesterday? Should I wipe every thing out and start from scratch?

Phil S.

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  Workflow - Just Wondering, Not Frustrated!
Posted by: Rowland - 2018-11-10, 09:57 PM - Forum: SkyTools 4 Imaging - Replies (1)

Hi Greg,

I've been in a bit of analysis paralysis deciding how to set up my targets, lists, projects and programs in ST4.   You may not have an answer or opinion, but I figured it might be a helpful discussion for others as well.  And I'm sure you have some vision as to the best way to use these, so... :-) 

I have two cameras and three OTA's, and run all six permutations.  ASI1600MM with LRGB/SHO filters and ASI1600MC (OSC) cameras.  EdgeHD 9.25 SCT, and two refractors, 80 and 120mm.

The MyT on the permanent pier uses ACP Expert, the portable one is my "experimental platform," currently mostly running Prism but I mix things up there as far as acquisition software.

I like to get a lot of data on an object, so once I have an "Imaging System" set up on my mounts (one permanent pier, one portable), it's not going to change until I get the data - which means probably several months.

Independently of ST4, here's my "real world workflow:"

1)  Accumulate interesting targets all the time - magazines, Astrobin, CloudyNights, local imaging group, whatever.  I see something, think "I'd like to image that," and jot it down.
1a)  I'd like to stick these "wishlist" items in a list rather than keeping them on a slip of paper - but what list?  One big one (you warn against performance if the lists get too big)?  One per Imaging System?  One per observing "season" - (time of year)?    But I may not image them for years - I just want to keep them around so when it comes time to pick the next ones, I have some that I have pre-qualified to a degree, vs. a database of thousands of objects.

2)  For the ACP Expert System, I want to "keep it fed" so I don't lose valuable imaging time by having it sit idle during a good night because nothing qualifies to run.  During the new moon week, anything goes.  As the moon gets brighter, I'll need some narrow band targets in ACP's list.  

 I code my ACP Expert targets by OTA and only enable the ACP Expert projects corresponding to the OTA currently mounted.  So I prefix my project names in ACP with "925" for the Edge, "80" and "120" for the refractors.  That makes it easy to sort the list in ACP and pause any projects that didn't finish when I dismounted the OTA.  

The key here as far as ST4 goes is that I need to schedule new projects for ACP that correspond to the mounted OTA.  Perhaps that should define an ST4 "Imaging Program?"

3)  For the portable system, when a clear night approaches, I want to pick things from either incomplete projects or new items from my wishlist that haven't run yet, and are appropriate for the mounted Imaging System on that mount.  I then want to schedule the night's imaging, presumably using the Scheduler in ST4.

3a)  I also want to track progress for the projects underway on this system.  It may take a couple of months - or years - to get 20 - 30 hours of good data on an object.  Weather!

4) And closing the loop, when a project is done, I want a record of that to remind me that I've imaged it already - so when two years from now I see a cool image on Astrobin, I can remind myself that I imaged that myself two years ago!

So, Jedi Master, what's a good structure using the power of ST4 to accommodate this workflow?  

And it's OK to say, "Read the Manual!"


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  Total Newbie
Posted by: Tito99 - 2018-11-10, 06:24 PM - Forum: New SkyTools Users - Replies (1)

Hello! I am new to Amateur Astronomy and just found SkyTools .  Downloaded the trial version of the Starter Edition, and I'm feeling my way through it.  My question is: Are the Starter Objects,  and the Sun, Moon and Planets observing lists only available in the full  Starter Edition, or are these features not available to me at this time because of my current geographical location (Eastern Tennessee, USA) and local date/time.  I'm also new to participating on Forums generally, so I guess I'm at the lowest point of any learning curve.  I'd appreciate help from the community because as you can imagine, I have loads of other questions. Thanks!

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  Edit Imaging System Shows wrong OTA info
Posted by: Rowland - 2018-11-10, 12:25 PM - Forum: SkyTools 4 Imaging - Replies (4)

Hi Greg,

When I try to edit the OTA in an Imaging System that I created, and click OTA, it is showing the details of the OTA from a different entry in the list.  I don't know if this means the data stored for the imaging system is wrong, or just that the dialog that pops up contains the "wrong" information.   The pop-up seems to be showing whatever info I entered last.

Reproducing this:

1)  Create several imaging systems - here's my list:


2)  Click on the OTA for the EdgeHD - ASI1600MM Imaging System and it shows the EdgeHD 925 SCT info as expected:


3)  Edit the OTA for the Esprit 120 - ASI1600MM Imaging System to have the data for the 120mm refractor:


4)  Now select the EdgeHD - ASI1600MM Imaging System again (same one as in step 2) and click the OTA button:


it shows the Esprit 120 refractor info instead of the EdgeHD SCT:



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  ST4 Crash Attempting to View Downloaded Image
Posted by: Rowland - 2018-11-08, 10:57 AM - Forum: SkyTools 4 Imaging - Replies (11)

Hi Greg,

Most of my ACP Scheduler projects are winding down so I'm starting to create some new projects and ran into this apparent bug.  Let me know if this isn't the right place to report possible issues.

Steps to reproduce:
1)  Tools -> Designation Search
2)  Entered NGC 5795 <enter>
3)  Double clicked NGC 5795 in Search Results
4)  Clicked Images tab
5)  Clicked Download DSS Image
6)  Image downloaded but ST4 crashes to desktop (goes away), I think when attempting to view the image
7)  Repeat above steps 1-4; image file shows in the file list.  Select the downloaded DSS image and click View.  ST4 crashes to desktop

BTW, a wishlist item - a quick way to bring up the designation search rather than having to get it from a menu.  I.e. like the magnifying glass toolbar icon in ST3.  Maybe a small toolbar like we had in ST3 with ability to put frequently used commands there? EDIT: after how many months of using ST4, I just noticed the "Add Objects" button which brings up the search menu! Not sure how I missed it, but maybe because it's an "Action" button that is mixed in with a couple of rows of what are essentially filters. Anyway, glad I found it but makes me ponder if I'm the only one who missed it!


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  Frustrated? I want to Hear from You
Posted by: theskyhound - 2018-11-05, 03:55 AM - Forum: SkyTools 4 Imaging - Replies (5)

If you are frustrated with SkyTools 4 Imaging, I want to hear from you. If you are overwhelmed by it, annoyed by it, think it isn't all that useful, think it does too much, or wish it was more like some other product, then I want to hear from you.

I have been doing this a long time, and I have been in this position before. I don't think it is an exaggeration to say that SkyTools Imaging is revolutionary. When you release a truly revolutionary product the early adopters tell you how wonderful it is. Your inbox fills with accolades. It's great. But then the other shoe drops. I suspect that for every one of the accolades for SkyTools Imaging there is at least one person who is struggling with it in some way.

So let me help you to not be frustrated, annoyed, or overwhelmed. Start a dialog with me. Tell me what is not working for you.

Or just ask a simple question.

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  Imaging Quality and Target Selection Tool
Posted by: wadeh - 2018-11-03, 05:56 PM - Forum: SkyTools 4 Imaging - Replies (13)

I have a somewhat complex horizon and am trying to get the Target Selection Tool to list objects filtered by the number of hours that objects are above my local horizon.

At a first glance, it looks like the right way to do this is to use the Night Filters and the Image Quality and Duration parameters.

The problem that I am having is that if SkyTools decides that the best image quality is A, then it insists that the total duration is defined by the time that the object is available at that quality level.  This is true even if I set the Image Quality filter to something less.

As an example, I am looking at M103 for tonight (just an object picked somewhat at random with Image Quality of A).  The object is near 45 degrees altitude at dusk, and never gets any lower than that until it goes behind my tree line just after 2am.  The blue image quality line in the Target Selection Tool shows it around 60 or 65 at dusk.  From there, it stays well above that until it drops to zero just after 2am (going behind the trees).

The problem is that the Target Selection Tool shows a Start Time of 22:00 with Duration of 03:45.  I've tried using the Exposure Calculator to select other image qualities, and I've set up an Imaging Project with an exposure goal of C.  Neither of these actions affects the Start Time or Duration in the Target Selection Tool.

What I want is to be able to create a target list and then have the Target Selection Tool show me the objects on a given night, filtered by the amount of darkness time that they are above my horizon (my horizon is high enough in every direction, that I want to start imaging as soon as an object clears the tree line and continue until it drops below the tree line on the other side).  I also generally don't want to image an object unless it has 4 hours of availability.

As it stands now, M103 would not appear on a list filtered by 4 hours of Duration - not because it's unavailable, but because it doesn't have an image quality of A for at least 4 hours, even if I would be happy with image quality of B.  As far as I am concerned, the object is actually available from about 7:30pm to 2:00am, which is a duration of 6.5 hours.

Is there a way that I can get the Target Selection Tool to work for me?


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  List export designations
Posted by: obrazell - 2018-11-01, 05:10 PM - Forum: SkyTools 3 General Discussion - Replies (8)

I was trying to export a list of double stars with the primary designation the WDS one. I can get this when looking at the list but when trying to export it seems to go back to the default order of designations not the one I have chosen. Is this the expected behaviour or have I missed something in the preferences?



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  A suggestion/possibility feature request
Posted by: garymck - 2018-10-25, 08:29 PM - Forum: SkyTools 4 Imaging - Replies (1)

I recently upgraded to Skytools 4 and LOVE it! Taking a while to plumb its depths, but am slowly peeling off its layers.

I did the upgrade as a way of encouraging development of export capabilities to SGP, however there is another program that I am about to change to for image acquisition. CCDCiel.


This already has the ability to transfer data from Cartes du Ciel observing lists to itself with a simple click on a button, so I wonder if it might be a relatively simple job to allow the same from Skytools?

I found Patrick, the author, to be really approachable and responsive.

cheers Gary

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