Questions & Answers/Tips & Tricks => Deep Sky Image Acquisition & Related Software => Topic started by: chris.bailey on 10:22:13, 22 April, 2016

Title: Deep Sky Image Acquistion Software
Post by: chris.bailey on 10:22:13, 22 April, 2016
There are plenty of options when it comes to software for deep sky imaging. The table below lists those which seem to be used together with a feature set and price point guide. We have now made specific boards to cover those that appear to be in commonest use by forum members to develop something of a knowledge bank for easy reference. We have only listed those pieces of software that appear to have on-going development and have missed off a few obscure ones.

If you see any obvious errors or omissions in the table please let us know.

Deep Sky Imaging Software - Key Features

Software   Automation   Planetarium   Observatory   Plate Solving   Acquisition   Guiding   Autofocus   Stacking   Processing   Cost   Platforms   Notes   
ACPYesExtExtExtExtExtExtXX££££WinRequires MximDL or SkyX Pro
SGPProYesXYesYesYesExtYesXX£WinUses PHD2 (FREE) for guiding duties
CCDAutopilot ProYesExtExtExtExtExtExtXX£££WinRequires MaximDL or SkyX Pro. Annual licence fee for new features
CCDCommanderYesXExtExtExtExtExtXX£WinRequires MaximDL or SkyX Pro
Indi/Ekos   YesYesYesYesYesYesYesXXFreeLinux/Pi/Mac   Largely self build based on INDI components
MaximDLXYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYes£££WinFull plate solving requires PinPoint
SkyXProXYesYesYesYesYesYesXX££££Win/MacAnnual licence fee. Linux (Pi) version in beta
AstroArtXXYesYesYesYesYesYesYes£WinMany features via plug-ins
NebulosityXXXXYesExtXYesYes£Win/MacUses PHD (FREE) for guiding duties
ArtemisCaptureXXXXYesYesXXXFreeWinOnly works with Atik hardware
Backyard EOS/Nikon   XXXXYesXXXX£WinDSLR Camera Control
PHD/PHD2   XXXXXYesXXXFreeWin/MacBest loved guiding software
SharpcapXXXYesYesXXXYFreeWinGood CMOS camera support

Yes - Fully integrated
Ext - Uses/Links to 3rd party software
X - None or very limited features

Automation - Includes features that support unattended imaging such as target optimisation, guide star recovery, meridian flips etc
Planetarium - Built in sky charts for target selection, framing etc
Observatory - Includes features that control the full range of observatory hardware such as domes, rotators etc
Acquisition - Includes features that support capturing image sequences
Guiding - Built in guiding or has links to third party solutions
Autofocus - Includes features to support automated focus using electronic focusers
Stacking - Includes features to calibrate, align and combine captured image sequences
Processing - Includes Built in basic image processing features such as stretch, dpp, noise reduction
Platforms - Win(Windows), Mac, Lx (Linux)
Cost (for features listed) -
£    - Less than £100
££   - £100-250
£££  - £250-500
££££ - >£500
Title: Re: Deep Sky Image Acquistion Software
Post by: Starlight on 12:54:03, 23 April, 2016
Thanks for putting that together  :thumbup: :thumbup: - I never realised there were so many programs.
I've only ever used one of the cheaper options above but I think I'll have a look at the other options now.

Title: Re: Deep Sky Image Acquistion Software
Post by: chris.bailey on 13:40:29, 23 April, 2016

Thanks, I kept Google busy for a couple of days! There are actually a fair few more but several of those have not been updated so I dropped any with the likes of "New version now supports Windows XP" written on the splash screen. All of those listed are current and seem to have ongoing development. Other than ACP I either have full copies or demo versions of all of them so am aiming to be able to do a bit more of an in depth comparison at some point. In terms of bang for buck, SGPro takes a lot of beating.

Title: Re: Deep Sky Image Acquistion Software
Post by: Phillyo on 15:04:11, 25 April, 2016
I tried APT when I first started out and it was brilliant. Moving on I went with SGPro and baring my own issues I found it pretty amazing...especially for the price point! I felt comfortable enough after the first few weeks to practically press "Go!" then go to bed and I'd wake up with a new set of images to process. Makes things very easy.

Great little list Chris, good job!

Title: Re: Deep Sky Image Acquistion Software
Post by: with on 10:11:09, 16 June, 2016
Before I saw this post, I'd been looking at DeepSkyStacker and Giotto but only from Google searching.

I've assumed I need software to stack images (from video or stills?) in order to get a single composite image to post-process for contrast and colour, which sounds like two programs. The second of them might be GIMP? I have no idea how to zero in on the first other than by asking here what people would recommend.

I would guess that once I understand what the software will do for me I'll have an idea of how stable a mount I need to pay for. Do I need to track what I'm capturing, or does the stacking deal with the image movement? Do I capture colour, or false colour infra-red, with a filtered monochrome sensor or a colour sensor (My Googling took me to Zwo USB3 which looks startling).

The first step is to find my software alternatives. Jowan uses Windows 10, I use Slackware Linux, we have access to iMac OSX.
Title: Re: Deep Sky Image Acquistion Software
Post by: chris.bailey on 11:02:34, 16 June, 2016
You really need access to three functions (either in separate programs or the same one)

1) Acquisition - Something to control the camera. This can be as simple as a DSLR remote trigger.

2) Stacking - In general stills or video capture require different software. DeepSkyStacker is good for this.

3) Processing - Something to tease the details out of the stacked image. The latest versions of GIMP are OK.

Windows give more options than Linux or OSX and the Linux options are a bit techy. Personally I capture using Windows but Process on an iMac.

Yes you do need to be able to track what you are capturing as the stars move a lot faster than you think.

Title: Re: Deep Sky Image Acquistion Software
Post by: BlueAstra on 10:43:30, 09 February, 2017
For completeness you might want to add photoshop and Pixinsight since they are used by many for processing.

Title: Re: Deep Sky Image Acquistion Software
Post by: chris.bailey on 11:10:04, 09 February, 2017

"Deep Sky Acquisition Software"   ;)

Some do both so I have added a column for Processing but this is primarily a list of acquisition software.

Title: Re: Deep Sky Image Acquistion Software
Post by: Nimbus on 11:31:46, 09 February, 2017
Excellent Chris. In the notes column you might wish to add polar alignment for PHD2.  If you broaden the list to include Polar alignment it opens up a whole raft of related software which would make the list much broader than you intended............ ATB Jim
Title: Re: Deep Sky Image Acquistion Software
Post by: ngwillym on 11:45:18, 09 February, 2017
I would add:-
Software      Automation      Planetarium      Observatory      Plate Solving      Acquisition      Guiding      Autofocus      Stacking      Processing      Cost      Platforms      Notes
Sharpcap          partial                  ext                    ext                   Yes                  Yes                  x                x                      yes                       x             free              Win             plate solving with 2.10 beta

also does polar alignment, focussing aids
Title: Re: Deep Sky Image Acquistion Software
Post by: chris.bailey on 12:42:01, 09 February, 2017
Jim - Quite a few of them have sort of Polar Alignment helper. When I get a moment I'll do some research and perhaps add a column.

Thank Neil - I have added Sharpcap to the list on the basis it has moved beyond video capture.

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