If you like SkyTools 3, you will love SkyTools 4. It is modern, beautiful, and layed out intuitively and efficiently.

SkyTools 3 users qualify for an upgrade to a similar edition of SkyTools 4 at half price and for substantial discounts on higher editions. Order your upgrade here

The biggest change in SkyTools 4 is that it has been split into two separate products, one that focuses solely on visual observing and one that focuses on astronomical imaging. 

Observing Lists are Simplified
There is a new tool for selecting and editing observing lists. Select the Observing List menu on the Nightly Planner to open it. List groups are replaced by folders. A list can be moved from one folder to another by dragging it. List can be managed directly from this tool including deleting them, renaming them, or editing their details.

Generate Observing Plan
SkyTools 3 had an optimum sort, which sorted a list in optimum viewing time order. SkyTools 4 has a much improved feature to sort a list in the best order to view throughout the night (or the time period selected). It creates a plan for the night in time order. It will start by selecting objects in the west that are setting. There is a limited time to view these objects, and the sooner the better. But as the setting objects are caught up, the algorithm will instead minimize the movement of the telescope, doing its best to avoid moving all over the sky.

The plan can be printed, or you can generate paper finder charts for each of the objects (check the all via a right-click on the check mark column) and the right-click on the first red check mark. If you use SkyTools in the field, the Real Time Observing toolhas a similar feature that will follow your plan.

Ideal Eyepiece Column
This column now truly suggests the ideal eyepiece to use to view each object. This was previously the Optimum Eyepiece for Visual Detection and only applied to objects that were difficult or challenging to detect. The new Ideal Eyepiece suggestion considers resolution and/or fitting the target into the field of view when selecting the ideal eyepiece. It will always assure you the best view, or if the object is difficult to detect, the eyepiece that will maximize your ability to detect it.

New Modes Have Been Added to the Real Time Tool
The Real Time Tool now has two modes of operation:

Sky Tour mode - a new feature that sets up a tour for use at the telescope which will minimize your interaction with the windows device

Best Now mode - the best objects to observe right now are placed at the top of the list and updated regularly

The Deep Sky Databases Have Been Expanded and Corrected
More than 500,000 accurate galaxies have been added overall, even while large numbers of low-quality and non-existent galaxies have been removed. New galaxy designations have been added, such as UGCA and RFGC. Many obscure, yet visually observable, nebulae and clusters have been added, often by hand. The positions of open clusters have been reviewed and updated to be more accurate. 

Subscriptions
SkyTools 3 had a feature where the user manually selected Update 'Current' Lists from Web to update the current comets, current minor planets, and current novae/supernovae observing lists. These lists are now updated every time you start SkyTools 4 as per your subscription settings, which are set via the Subscriptions selection of the top-level Setup menu. Only those lists that are enabled will be kept up to date. In addition to these subscriptions, the latest Great Red Spot (GRS) position is also updated regularly. SkyTools can now accurately display the position of the GRS as seen at any time since 1965. 

Herschel Designations and Discovery Information
Herschel designations are now supported, such as H 1-3 and information such as, "Discovered by William Herschel in 1783 using a 18.7 inch telescope" is now available. 

Dreyer Summaries
Dreyer Summaries from the NGC catalog and now included, complete with a decoding of the original codes. E.g. B, pS, R, psmbM, 2nd of 3 : Bright, pretty small, round, pretty abruptly much brighter middle, 2nd of 3.

Nearby Objects Tool
The Object Information now includes a list of nearby objects, filterable by type and angular distance.

Improved YearBar
A greatly improved Yearbar now offers an accurate depiction of the observability of an object throughout the year that is no longer tied to a specific time of night.

Locations Now have Monthly Weather
SkyTools is often used to plan observations for a night in the future, when the weather will be unknown. But we often know what the weather is typically like each month of the year, on a night that we typically observe. You can now specify the typical weather conditions at night for each month of the year. Weather settings in SkyTools will allow you to set the values explicitly, or select Auto, which will apply the monthly weather settings.

Visual Observation Quality is Introduced
The relative observation quality of the selected object over time now appears as a blue line on the Nightbar. This is a sophisticated calculation that takes into account the location, telescope, observer, and the properties of the object itself. When at the top of the Nightbar, the object is at its best, as seen in the selected telescope at the selected location. This quality appears throughout SkyTools 4 Visual, and is used to predict the best time to observe an object. 

The quality is displayed graphically directly below the Nightbar. Green indicates Best quality, yellow Fair, and Red is poor. The block of time corresponding to the highest quality that is available on the night selected is the observation window, and is summarized by the Begin, Best, and End columns of the planner. These columns are colored green, yellow, or red to indicate the quality of the observation window for each object. 

The Nightly Planner has Improved Filtering
Filtering observing lists has been simplified, yet is more powerful than ever. Two filters can be applied: minimum quality and difficulty. These filters work in conjunction with the time period specified. For most purposes we recommend filter settings of Best Quality and Visible (at any difficulty).

Attachments Have Been Simplified
Just as in SkyTools 3, the user can attach data to objects in the form of notes, images, and web links. Notes, Links and Image Groups are now called Attachment Folders. Where SkyTools 3 allowed the user to sort notes, images, and links into separate groups of each type, there is now one group (or folder) that can contain all three types of data. An attachments folder can be permanently assigned to an observing list via a selection on the Nightly Planner. In this way, you could have an folder with notes, links, and images. perhaps called "Herschel 400" that is attached to the "Herschel 400" observing list. When you are using this list these attachments are active. When you are using another list, with its own attachments folder, those attachments will be active.

The Nightly Planner has two new columns related to attachments. The Attachments column summarizes the kinds of attachments available for each object via icons. 

The Brief column displays the note Brief (formerly the note Headline). This is short text that appears at the top of the notes for each object. This text can be edited via the Object Information window, or via a right-click in the Brief column.

There is now a Single Comet Database
The historical comet database has been merged with the continuously updated comet database. The new Interstellar comet designations are supported, such as 2I/Borisov. 

The Minor Planet Database is now Fully Optimized
There is now a single minor planet database that uses pre-calculated positions to greatly speed up plotting on charts. Minor Planets can now be plotted by orbit type on the atlas. 

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