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SkyTools 4 Imaging and SGP
#1
Many people naturally want to know what niche ST4 fills. Where does it fit into the imaging workflow, and what software does it replace?

The answer is that ST4 creates a whole new niche - one that adds value to your existing imaging workflow. It isn't meant to replace your existing software. It doesn't control your camera, focuser, dome, or rotater. You already have software to do that.

Think about the part that you play in the workflow. Your function is to select appropriate imaging targets, decide when to observe them (or at least define the parameters that will determine when), and to set up efficient observing sequences. Without your making good decisions, all that expensive equipment is wasted. So you can think of ST4 as your own expert aide. It's not there to rotate your camera or do the focusing. It's there to help you find suitable targets and to maximize the SNR on your images.

In practice, the question of what ST4's exact function is in your imaging workflow is ultimately determined by what equipment you use and how you go about using it.

If you use ACP or ACP Expert then this is pretty obvious. SkyTools generates ACP plans for use with ACP, and it intelligently submits projects to Scheduler.

But what if you are using a camera on a tripod? It isn't necessary for ST4 to interface directly with the camera. The SkyTools Scheduler simply tells you when to image your targets and what exposures to use.

What if you use the very popular SGP? Where's my ST4 integration with SGP, you say? While I can see just how cool integrating with SGP would be, it isn't necessary in order for ST4 to fulfill its primary function.

When you use SGP, you decide what to image, when to image, etc. So let ST4 help you make those decisions. Then go ahead and use SGP the same way you already do. Let ST4 be the brains behind SGP. To do that, use the SkyTools Scheduler. Once a Schedule is built, program the sequences into SGP. All you need to do then is to start imaging near the right time. If you think you can set up an entire night, go ahead. Or it may work best to work in shorter periods. You can set up a schedule to start and/or end at specific times of the night via the time sliders (aka From... To) on the Scheduler. Just clear the schedule, set the start time, and schedule away.

That said, I am sure there are things that I can quickly implement that will make it easier for you to use ST4 with SGP. Please tell me what those things are and I will do my best to implement them ASAP. If you find yourself asking, "how do I?" Ask me. If you find yourself thinking, "I wish ST4 would..." Let me know what you were thinking and why.

None of this means that I don't fully intend to integrate ST4 with SGP as fully as possible in the near future. That will be one of my primary tasks in the coming months. But before I can make a plan, I will need to investigate SGP and see how much the SGP developers are willing to work with me.

SkyTools Imaging may say version "4" but in many ways this is just the start. It is not yet at its full feature set. From here on out, I will be updating ST4 much more regularly, so you can expect to see things like SGP integration in the near future.
Clear skies,
Greg

SkyTools Developer
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