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SkyTools 3 Power Tips Tips for using SkyTools 3. Basics Right-click on everything! Use context whenever possible (example: logs) Keep the planner windowed.

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Presentation on theme: "SkyTools 3 Power Tips Tips for using SkyTools 3. Basics Right-click on everything! Use context whenever possible (example: logs) Keep the planner windowed."— Presentation transcript:

1 SkyTools 3 Power Tips Tips for using SkyTools 3

2 Basics Right-click on everything! Use context whenever possible (example: logs) Keep the planner windowed (not full screen) and use it as a popup on top of the charts Night vs. Date – a night begins/ends at noon Keyboard shortcuts: –Enter shortcuts into help Search –Press k on a chart –Look at Popup menus Online guides: skyhound.com Services & Support SkyTools 3 User Guides Yahoogroup: tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/skytools

3 Night Vision Mode Intended to be used with red screen cover

4 SkyTools Preferences See current version Register or send Feedback Control how the program behaves Change how much data is installed Globally control how designations are used

5 Configuring Designations Designations tab of the SkyTools Preferences dialog Used globally except for chart labels, which have their own control Controlled separately by object class (galaxy, open cluster, etc.) Enable/Disable designations Change order in hierarchy

6 Nightly Planner Reading the NightBar –Red dashed line is altitude of selected object Sort on Optimum Time Observing Lists are organized into Groups, like file folders Notes/Ratings are also organized into Groups Operations that work on more than one object at a time are via the multiple operations (red check mark) column Multiple operations example: Thumbnail Viewer Column can be customized for each list and column schemes can be saved The Stoplight column tells us the quality of the observation opportunity –Green means at or near best visibility; go ahead and observe it –Yellow means maybe wait for a better night –Red means wait for another night Right-click on the NightBar to make an overhead sky or naked eye chart for the time corresponding to the point where you clicked.

7 Charting Power Tips Use the right Chart for the task at hand Open charts directly from the context: observing list, event, ephemeris, log, object info, etc. Interactive Atlas – best for general use – when you want full control Latest Sun image displayed in chart background Tip: plot objects from list on an Overhead Sky chart NE chart – for exploring the naked eye sky Simulation/Finder chart – for finding and identifying objects Use the Sky Report to check current conditions (model inputs)

8 Chart View Controls Some charts have more than one View There are separate View Controls for each View Only permanently saved if Save button used Labels: by class, selectable label density Special view controls for simulation/finder chart views (insets, fov, etc.)

9 Chart Preferences Three Basic Chart Styles (based on how stars are drawn) –Classic Atlas –Model PSF (photo realistic) –Bitmap (from a selection of scalable star images) Define a Chart Scheme –Save then apply to another chart

10 Configuring Printed Charts Chart Preference schemes are separate from on-screen charts Dont forget to Save Current Settings as Default before you exit

11 Supplemental Databases Used when an object has a temporary nature, such as a comet, or is missing from the main database Supplemental objects work just like any other object in database –Can create Log entries –Can associate data such as notes, rating, and images –If exported with a list the object data is automatically exported to Managed via the Supplemental Data tab on the Data Manager Download/Import Data button used to get comet / minor planet data Enable supplemental objects on charts via View Controls How to tell whether an object is in the Supplemental Database –Via the Object Requestor –Via the Object Info window

12 Associated Data Three types of data can be associated with objects –Notes/Ratings –Images –Web links Each type of data is organized into Groups Associated data can be exported along with an observing list

13 Sharing Data Export an observing list + associated data –Notes/ratings –Images –Web links –Log Entries Send your best observing lists to me!

14 Synchronizing data between different computers The SkyTools license allows use on more than one computer Use Sync to transfer data without the worry of overwriting anything

15 Managing Observing Lists Use the Data Manager Tool Organized by Observing List Groups –Move lists from one group to another Copy/Move objects from one list to another Use the Observing Lists tab of the Object Information window to see what lists an object appears in

16 Tweaking DSS Images Some download sources are better aligned than others Select the best image color for your target –Red for HII regions –Blue for reflection nebulae and galaxies Adjust rotation, scale, and center to get better alignment Use the plottable image group to organize your DSS images on the charts

17 Visual Observing with SkyTools 3 Tips for using SkyTools 3 to help you get the most out of visual observing

18 Configuring SkyTools Estimating your sky brightness – very important! –Defined at Zenith on a dark night –Use the Bortle Scale –Or use a Naked-eye chart –Or use a Sky Quality Meter Creating an obstructed horizon –Draw on an Overhead Sky Chart in the field –Read from a File –Use a connected telescope

19 Deep Sky Observing Using finder charts in the field –The Context Method; at right orientation, scale, limiting magnitude –Adjusting the size of the views –Disabling Views –Moving Views –Forcing the target to be visible –Printing multiple finder charts Useful Object Info tools –NightBar –YearBar –Apparent Data –Synopsis –Visual Difficulty

20 The Sun, Moon & Planets Use the Sun, Moon, and Planets observing list Events – Special vs. Current –Appulse/transits/occultation events –Eclipses –Jupiter satellite and Great Red Spot (GRS) events –Satellite elongation events –Open charts directly from events! Observing distant planet satellites Displaying satellite trails on charts Using the best resolution eyepiece selection Using the "b" key on the Atlas to zoom to the planet Synopses on the Object Information Window

21 Comets SkyTools is the only software that can reliably tell you if a comet is visible to you The Current comets observing list is always up to date with data culled from recent observation reports –Magnitude –Coma diameter –Degree of Condensation (DC) Using the Optimum Ephemeris for comets Comet Synopses on the Object Information Window

22 Asteroids (Minor Planets) Two databases –Primary/reference (first 10,000 numbered) –Supplemental (must download latest elements) The Current Minor Planets list Downloading minor planet orbital elements –Via the Supplemental Data tab on the Data Manager DPS for minor planets (Pro) -- practice

23 Double Stars Special Double-star planning columns –The Primary pair is the pair most likely to be observed (usu. The AB pair) –Splittability (how easy it is to split the main pair) –Optimum Splittability –Splittability status (stoplight column) Green if the current splittability is at or near optimum Yellow is somewhat inferior to optimum Red if you should wait for a better night Charts –Can zoom in to 1 –Using the best resolution eyepiece selection –Plotting long-period binary star orbits Reading the Object Info Long-Period binary ephemerides Using the Database Power Search for double stars

24 Nova and Supernovae The Current Nova/Supernovae List –Updated every few days

25 Real Time Observing All calculations for the current time Targeting with DSCs (or Pushto mounts) Targeting via GOTO mounts Use Optimum Sort to put the best current objects at the top Charts open in Real Time update mode Configuring Real Time Refresh Rates

26 The Context Viewer A popup simulation window for the Interactive Atlas Also displays the selected FOV on the Atlas Lock to Atlas (always locked to the Atlas target, or center) Lock to Telescope (always locked to the current position of the scope) Simulation toggle –Simulate view for current conditions –Or simulate view for optimum conditions All toggle – display all non-stellar objects whether visible or not

27 Logging Observations How to set up defaults –The New Log Defaults Dialog –Also used for creating multiple log entries How to use context to quickly create log entries –From the planner/real time –From a chart How to set up presets for eyepieces and conditions Using the log search function Creating Night Logs Miscellaneous Logs

28 The Mount Alignment Tool Available from the Real Time tool only Opened via the Telescope Control menu Two Methods of Alignment –Via a chart of the pole location –Via the drift meothod

29 SkyTools 3 Tools for Digital Imaging Tools for Optimizing Imaging Sessions

30 Introduction SkyTools uses a scientific model of your camera, optics, location, atmospheric conditions, light pollution and target object The model estimates the final Signal to Noise Ratio (SNR) for the image or image stack The goal is to maximize SNR by making the best informed choices (where and when to observe, what order to use filters in, etc).

31 Setting Up a Camera Traditional CCD camera Digital Camera Video/Webcam Filters and Lenses Focal extenders/reducers Eyepiece Projection

32 Important Model Inputs Sky brightness –An observing location parameter Estimated at zenith on a dark night Can use Bortle scale, faintest naked-eye star Ultimate measure is directly from your images Astronomical seeing –Affects resolution and SNR Temperature and Relative Humidity –Used to estimate atmospheric extinction

33 Color Filters Broadband filters only –Narrow-band filters not presently supported because single emission lines are not modeled Convolution of: –Target object surface brightness at U, B, V –Typical sky surface brightness at U, B, V –Optical transmission at U, B, V –Filter transmission –Detector sensitivity vs. wavelength

34 Estimating Sky Brightness from an Image 1.Start with an image obtained under a dark sky Record: Target Time Filter 2.Measure the dark subtracted sky signal in ADU 3.Set the Exposure Calculator exactly match the image circumstances 4.Set sub-exposure time = total exposure time 5.Read estimated sky value in ADU and compare to measured value 6.Adjust sky brightness on Observing Sites dialog until the two numbers are close

35 The Exposure Calculator Really an Imaging Laboratory –Experiment! Try different things to see and watch the effect on the final SNR Stacking and recommended sub exposure times –The optimum sub exposure time depends on the camera, telescope, object, and observing conditions. This optimum obtains the highest SNR in the final stacked image. –It is important to get the sky brightness (light pollution) right! –In some cases the final SNR may be insensitive to sub exposure time. The program may suggest very short exposures. Use the calculator to explore what impact different sub exposures times has and come to your own conclusions. –Set Allowable Sub-exposure times Effective Resolution –Estimated resolution including the effects of seeing Current Weather Conditions –Astronomical seeing –Air temperature –Relative humidity

36 Questions Answered What is the optimum sub-exposure time for my current conditions? What is the estimated Signal to Noise Ratio I will obtain for a given exposure? What is the estimated total exposure time needed to reach a specific Signal to Noise Ratio? How much effect is the moon going to have tonight? Should I travel to a dark site? In what order should I expose when using multiple filters? How long can I image a planet before rotational smear blurs the composite image? What is my field of view? How many pixels will my target cover? How many pixels apart with a pair of stars be?

37 Digital Imaging at the Telescope Using SkyTools to get the most out of the various types of digital imaging

38 Planning Deep Sky Imaging Sessions Reading the NightBar –Red line is altitude –Blue line is relative imaging quality (Q) Q=100 best possible from this site Quality Letter Grades (A, B, C, D, F) – filter to A or B only Use Optimum Sort Using the Exposure Calculator –Select one or more Q block(s) –Drag yellow lines on NightBar to manually select exposure –Manually select sub exposure time –Manually setting target surface brightness –Calculate exposure for a desired SNR

39 Planning Solar, Lunar, and Planetary Imaging Sessions Reading the NightBar –Red line is altitude –Blue line is relative imaging quality (Q) Q=100 best possible from this site –Solid orange line is relative effective resolution quality SNR is still useful but also we want to maximize resolution Filter on A – excellent only Using the Exposure Calculator –No seeing selection (short exposures assumed) –Period of time without rotational smear (for total observation period)

40 Planning Double star Imaging Sessions Reading the NightBar –Red line is altitude –Blue line is relative imaging quality (Q) Q=100 best possible from this site –Solid orange line is relative effective resolution quality SNR is still useful but also we want to maximize resolution Filter on A – excellent only Resolution Parameter (RP): A value of 1.0 indicates a pair that is barely resolved under the current conditions. A value less than one indicates that the pair is unresolved. Values greater than one indicate increasingly well- split pairs. Image size column: separation of component stars in pixels Using the Exposure Calculator –No seeing selection (short exposures assumed) –Period of time without rotational smear (for total observation period)

41 Real Time Imaging All calculations for the current time Use Optimum Sort to put the best current objects at the top Filter on A – excellent

42 The Context Viewer A popup simulation window for the Interactive Atlas Also displays the selected FOV on the Atlas Lock to Telescope (always locked to the current position of the scope) –Drag FOV on Atlas to reposition telescope –Rotate FOV with mouse (from corner) Simulation toggle Simulate view for current conditions Or simulate view for optimum conditions All toggle – display all non-stellar objects whether visible or not

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