Planning tools; suggestions

06 Jun, 2018 04:15
I've been imaging off and on for about twenty years.  I often struggle to decide what objects or regions I would like to image on a particular night. These days I am using SGPro to set up sequences in advance, but making a new selection is often difficult.  What do you use to decide?  Astro Planner? The Sky? Other images from Astrobin? Articles? What?  Does any use books any more, like The Cambridge Star Atlas?  Any other resources you can suggest or advise against.

Thanks for the suggestions.  Jeff
06 Jun, 2018 04:22
Id also like to know. I just spin a globe and land my finger so to speek. smile
06 Jun, 2018 07:54
Hi  Jeff! I often use Stellarium to choose and plan in advance what to shoot. But I struggle any way, like you every time I have to decide what object to shoot. The worst is when I choose an object that than, when I’m out, it reveled to be too low anyway and the back up plan too. When I did not plan in advance I use Stellarium too, but also Star Chart (on my Iphone). I of course get suggestions looking what others shoot on Astrobin.
06 Jun, 2018 09:50
Hi Jeff,

my first step is to look what others on AstroBin are imaging, look at a few magazines or websites or search on google. My second step is to use the Imaging Toolbox or Astronomy.Tools to see if the target suits my setup. I then take a closer look at the ephemeris at what time the object can be seen at my site. Last but not least i track the object with Online Planetarium to see exactly at what time the object is how high in the sky at a given date.

Hope this helps,
06 Jun, 2018 10:09
Another good option is it will tell you what is in the sky at your location tonight, or any date in the future.
06 Jun, 2018 13:36
Hi Jeff,

I use Stellarium and its Oculars plugin, in which I've entered my camera and lens details in order to be able to visualize my imaging setup's field of view against the night sky. It is a tremendous tool for choosing targets and for framing. Version 0.18 added support for a multitude of surveys, including Axel Mellinger's Milky Way Panorama (for planning widefields) and e.g. the so-called PLANCK R2 HFI color composition 353-545-857 GHz (if you are interested in dusty stuff!)

Also, AstroBin (of course) for searching of what other people have achieved with equipment similar to mine, Wikipedia and astronomy-related magazines for getting clues about what are the "proper" colors of objects!

Clear Skies!
06 Jun, 2018 14:08
Oh very good that you mentioned the Ocular plugg-in, I forgot it! It is a great tool!
06 Jun, 2018 14:50
Wow, all great suggestions ! I too use DSO Browser, The best Astrobin images, Sky Safari , the Sky X and even the Cambridge Star Atlas.  Sounds like we all do the same thing generally.  It’s often a game of cat and mouse with object location, the moon, and ephemeris.  Last night, I decided to go big.  I started earlier than usual, planned to shoot in the east, starting over the galactic equator about 25° over my horizon with narrowbandon the Crescent Nebula. I have SGPro set up for for over 5 hours of data.  The first Two hours of Ha, look great so far, guiding was excellent.  It’s Nebula season!

Keep your ideas coming! This is a goood discussion.
06 Jun, 2018 20:55

I tried various techniques before I decided to go all-in with Astroplanner.  I am glad I did.  It took a while, but it has some great  and robust features once you get to know the program.  In addition to the normal sorting by transit time, moon distance, object size, etc., I have various filters set up so that I can custom highlight objects in different ways - for my current optical train, for my assigned priority, and for objects I have not yet imaged.  I have input 700 objects from any source I can get my hands on - Astrobin, magazines, books, etc.  Each night I have a plan of objects to image throughout the night, plus a backup set of objects in a different part of the sky in case there are clouds.

Edited 13 Jun, 2018 02:09
06 Jun, 2018 23:13
Astroplanner…looks complex, but it also looks like it has many very good features.. It must be excellent if you are using it Gary, you are a prolific and highly experienced imager.  Great suggestion, we should all check it out!  I'll check it out tonight.
Thank you.
08 Jun, 2018 04:02
Jeff, what I do partly is to download object catalogs from the internet such as The Sharpless Catalog of HII Regions and the DWB catalog of HII regions
around Cygnus X to name a few, Also I find that Astrobin itself is a good source of new material, GOOD LUCK!
10 Jun, 2018 16:57
Die Launische Diva
I use Stellarium …. Version 0.18 added support for a multitude of surveys, including Axel Mellinger's Milky Way Panorama (for planning widefields) and e.g. the so-called PLANCK R2 HFI color composition 353-545-857 GHz (if you are interested in dusty stuff!)

The new survey feature in Stellarium is amazing, thanks for sharing!
10 Jun, 2018 20:21
I prefer to look for targets rarely imaged, that way I’m less likely to be disappointed when comparing my results to someone’s far better resultssmile Starry Nights (PP7) is a great source for locating and framing obscure targets. For example I’ll select a random galaxy, then select PGC catalogue, zoom in and oodles of surrounding unknown galaxies will appear as tiny oval outlines on my screen. My FOV is accurately represented, and if I find a nice tight group of ovals that fit in my FOV, I’ll get the info off the screen and search the internet for info on that particular ARP/NGC/UGC group or galaxy. If there are few images of it and it looks doable, I’ll give it a shot.

17 Aug, 2018 21:01
I use an iPhone app called Observer Pro.  I set the location and date I will be observing and the app has a section called "Featured", which lists most prominent targets. For each target. in a simple graphic, you see the target's visibility showing the sky's brightness, altitude, the interference from the moon, plus the local horizon that you have.  The horizon takes a few minutes using your smartphone's camera and turning around 360 degrees.  It's easy to create observing lists and record the history of you observations. The author (Joshua Bury) has in his backlog better data flow in and out.  Ideally I would use these lists to populate targets in SGP, but like most of us he only has evenings and weekends.
17 Aug, 2018 22:10
I use Astrobin a lot for ideas of new targets, it is also very helpful if equipment, filters and length of exposures are stated.  I then go over to Stellarium, find where it is in the sky on a given date.  I keep a sort of "Target Planning Calendar" for targets that are not currently suitable and then go to my "target planner" as those months come around.

I find Astrobin a valuable resource for choosing new targets.

One thing that would be very useful for some lesser known targets, is to have the co-ordinates recorded along with the other info, not sure whether Astrobin can work these out automatically, but I sometimes struggle to find the correct co-ordinates for some targets, and am now starting to record them on my own website for my own future use (if need be) but for other's to google and find as well.  I use a handset and that only has M, NGC and IC targets in its data base.

Have made a note of Imaging Toolbox (referred to above), this looks like another useful tool to try out as I normally use 12Dstring for my FOV but some of the targets are not really easy to identify.

Edited 17 Aug, 2018 22:12
18 Aug, 2018 13:53
I use Iphone Apps -GoSkyWatch and StarMap3D, helps a lot to choose right DSO unobstructed by trees and houses. And, of course, Astrobin is the main source😉
24 Aug, 2018 21:33
Hi Jeff.
I mostly use Stellarium to select a few targets I plan to image. Then if it is not in position I have a backup target which has been working for me.
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