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AstroArt 5 review.


ollypenrice

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Often called the poor man's Maxim DL, AstroArt is a comprehensive image capture, preprocessing and post processing package. At

less than 130 Euros it might better be called the pauper's Maxim. It really is exceptional value.

I use it only for guiding, stacking, calibrating and colour combining and then I go into Ps and Pixinsight for the rest. I know you can stack in Pix but I can make neither head nor tail of it and in AstroArt it is so easy that I stick with it.

In upgrading to V5 you get plate solving (which identifies the RA and Dec co-ordinates of anything on your image when you mouse over it.) It handles rotation in stacking (about time!) and a bug creating a memory leak in stacking seems to have been eliminated. I tested it for stacking a batch of OSC images and it rattled through the task in seconds. I know DSS is free but it is a bit opaque and very, very slow.

As a calibrating-stacking programme what I like is the way you get individual control over what happens to each set of images (lights, darks, bias, flats...) You can retry a stack using Sigma instead of Median, with or without hot pixel filter, etc etc and it's so fast that you don't mind doing so.

I want to use the dither guide funtion along with drizzle but don't know if you have to have the guiding and capture in the same instance of AstroArt. I suppose you do but I have sent a mail to the helpline to confirm this.

AA5 seems to have addressed all that was missing from AA4 as far as I'm concerned and I like it. It looks as if the guide camera can now be orientated at any angle since an instruction to set it orthogonally seems to have gone from the handbook so far as I can see. This will be a boon to OAG users.

Yup, happy customer.

Olly

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"I know you can stack in Pix but I can make neither head nor tail of it and in AstroArt it is so easy that I stick with it."

I found it the other way round, but I have spent far more time on PI.

Still however nothing sorts my Flats.... Head Wall and BANG !!! :|

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As an addition .....

I am a new user of AA ... in at V5.

I have some problems with camera control and freezing whilst guiding plus a couple of other niggles.

This isn't a complaint nor a downer on the program. The support from Fabio has been excellent and these issues are getting addressed. Good support is essential and you certainly seem to get good support.

Furthermore - the guiding is excellent (I use an OAG). I have had some stunning guiding figures in AA.

As an aside it also is the ONLY package I have used that returns good images from a SX MX7C (My faffingf about CCD)

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I've been a steady user of AA since V3. It is a very under-rated program which definately punches above it's weight. I use it with all my CCD's (ATik, MX916 etc.) and with the DSLR's.

Highly recommended.

Good review Olly.

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Your timing is rather fortunate Olly, I just logged in to say FLO has been appointed a UK retailer for AstroArt V5 :)

I met with Harry Page at Kelling to discuss which software I should use for my own imaging and for sale here at FLO. Harry is probably better known for his Pixinsight video tutorials but he was also one of the AstroArt V5 product testers and was impressed.

Steve

astroart-v5-astronomy-software.jpg

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Good decision, Steve. I used Harry's tutorials to learn how to process one shot colour data when reviewing the Atik 4000 OSC for Astronomy Now. All my preprocessing has been done in AA. You're welcome to any pics if you like.

I quickly had a reply from the help desk saying that dithering will work in two session mode, which I take to mean one instance open to run the camera and one to run the autoguider. This is brilliant news. Dither is a great idea, particularly on OSC cameras.

Olly

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Thank-you Ken, Olly :)

I am looking forward to getting to grips with it. I know there are a number of AstroArt fans here on SGL and within the imaging group I belong to at the Norman Lockyer Observatory so I won't have far to go for advice :)

Steve

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I've been a steady user of AA since V3. It is a very under-rated program which definately punches above it's weight. I use it with all my CCD's (ATik, MX916 etc.) and with the DSLR's.

Highly recommended.

Good review Olly.

Yeah, nice review and I agree with all of it. I've been a long-time user of AA since v3 too, possibly V2 (if my memory goes back reliably to my days with a HX516) and have always liked it - it has good hardware support and does what it does simply and well. Very underrated IMO.

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Hi Olly

With AA5 it is not nessarary to do "that " trick with the OSC flats as if you select the CCD synth during calibration AA5 will automaticaly apply remove the bayer pattern :( ( a little suggestion of mine )

Have you tried the star shapeing/ debloat filter , done in real time very handy :)

Regards Harry

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Hi Olly

With AA5 it is not nessarary to do "that " trick with the OSC flats as if you select the CCD synth during calibration AA5 will automaticaly apply remove the bayer pattern :( ( a little suggestion of mine )

Have you tried the star shapeing/ debloat filter , done in real time very handy :)

Regards Harry

So, Harry, what's the OSC workflow now then? In the past I first made a master flat and master dark and calibrated the OSC lights without combining them. Only then did I combine them (with the P Fit suffix.).

Can I now load in all the flats, the master dark, the bias (as darks for flars) and the lights and then check CCD colour synthesis and, say, median combine and hot pixel and do the entire thing in one pass?

I hope you're gonna say yes, cos this would be great!!!

Olly

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  • 2 weeks later...

Further to this ....

If you have AA then it is also worth looking at a couple of other pieces of (free) software that make it an even better deal.

I have been using AA for only a little while and after some initial niggles have got my head round it and it works well .... the support is also excellent.

It gets better though if you add Sequence Generator from Main Sequence Software and Elbrus from StarLocatorElbrus : Star Locator Elbrus

Adding Sequence Generator adds functionality far beyond just a simple front end to AA. Apart from the focus routine (full frame at the touch of a button), far better saving routines and much other stuff I haven't delved into without having to resort to scripts within AA, it also adds plate solving - in fact VERY good plate solving - it could allow you to never look through a finder ever again. Furthermore it allows you to add a reference frame of your subject (or subjects) that will put you back in the exact same spot. Then there is your focusing star ... get there at the touch of a button .... and back to your target at the touch of another one. It is excellent! Having used Pinpoint LE and been somewhat slightly frustrated by its troubles at sometimes getting a fix I have to say that Elbrus via SG is simply superb.

SG and Elbrus are both free by the way.

Then there is Cartes du Ciel. This integrates beautifully with both of these software packages. I have used CDC in the past but always found it a tad clunky. I have had to re-evaluate my thoughts having had a number of sessions using it now. I have my horizon mapped now (easy) - it works seamlessly with Elbrus and Elbrus works superbly from within Sequence Generator. All of these programs are free.

So for the cost of AA you can also add extra features. have a very capable planetarium package along with really excellent plate solving with all the benefits that brings. For anybody not prepared to pay for all the functionality that the "industry standard" offers you can have it all for a lot less. Don't just look at Astroart - look a bit beyond it.

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