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ronnietucker

Linux astronomy software

97 posts in this topic

I edit a free Linux magazine (and have done now for five years) and would like to write an article in it (Full Circle Magazine) about astronomy software that runs in Linux.

So, my question is: what software do you Linux users use, and for what?

Native software suggestions would be ideal, but cross platform stuff (ie: Java), even Wine compatible stuff (eg: Registax) are all good.

Obviously I'll link to the forum at the end of the article (as a source) and I'll post a link to the issue here for anyone that's interested in it.

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I have been a Linux geek for quite a while (exclusively Linux at home and work for several years), but have recently been forced into using OSX at work :icon_salut: I would love to hear about astro-software for Linux, and would hope that a lot of it can run without the use of Wine.

The only astro program I know that runs natively in Linux is Stellarium, which very few of us (I imagine) do without!

Good luck with the article, and thanks for drawing my attention to your publication.

Steve

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Well, at the moment (a week into my astronomy career) I've been tinkering with AstroStack (uses Java) and Registax (v6, runs fine in Wine), but I'd love to know about other apps and especially what software Linux users are using to remote desktop/control their 'scopes. :icon_salut:

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Cartes du Ciel is another cross platform planetarium program which I use under Ubuntu. That and Stellarium.

Will be interesting to see the list you compile.

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astronomy software that runs in Linux.

,,,

So, my question is: what software do you Linux users use, and for what?

Not sure if this will fit your bill.

I use it for visualisation and entertainment, planetary, solar system spacecraft and local (Hipparcos) stellar environs.

Celestia

Celestia: Home

Open source.

Not now as active as once upon a time.

Several dedicated Linux types were (are?) involved.

Edited by Ptarmigan

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I use Linux for preference too but have had to resurrect the dreaded Windoze for astronomy/AP in my observatory. I've used Registax in wine but I'd much prefer to run apps in Linux directly. So I'm very interested in this thread. XP is much improved from it's early days but still isn't as stable as Linux. I may end up running two machines in my obsy - using Linux for my own control software which I'm writing for Linux and XP for scope/mount control and imaging.

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Same as Gina for me. I've been a user of UNIX and UNIX-like operating systems pretty much exclusively for around a quarter of a century, but temporarily at least have been forced to use Win7 for some of my astro stuff. It would be great to see native Linux ports of software such as Registax, Sharpcap, DSS and all the mount/camera control software, preferably open sourced.

James

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I use Xephem, which I find incredibly useful as a calculator to find when there will be neat alignments, or when my running club wanted to chart daylight length over the year.

Imagemagic is useful too - particularly in combination with Perl. I once used curl to grab a bunch of images from the old MetOffice webcams and turn them into a handy little 360deg pano.

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I'm just thinking aloud here, as I've not been in this game long, nor do I have motorised stuff, but have you folks tried your apps in Wine, or using them in a virtual machine (such as VirtualBox) in Linux?

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If one has stellarium on a Linux laptop, can they use it to control a mount like in windows or is it all to do with drivers?

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Wine is all very well (actually, wine is fantastic, in both senses), but for instance, I could probably run all the software necessary to control a mount and capture images from something like a SheevaPlug or Blackberry Pi if I was of a mind to (and didn't want to actually see the output). It's not likely you'll see Windows running on one of those.

James

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If one has stellarium on a Linux laptop, can they use it to control a mount like in windows or is it all to do with drivers?

Not sure I have to admit, but as far as I'm aware Stellarium doesn't do the sort of stuff that, say, PHD does, for tracking over long-exposure images. There is openphd, but I don't know how stable or functional that is yet.

James

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Stellarium controls mounts. There is an option you turn on, set it up, press CTRL + 0 or whatever it is, and it'll move your mount to where the cursor is.

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Well the obvious two are Stellarium and Celestia. They're also the only two i actually use :icon_eek:

Other than that there is Open Universe, KStars (and quite a few other 'planetariums' besides), XEphem (which looks really interesting and useful, might have to give it a go - also looks like it can control mounts) and Where is M13 (which looks pretty cool).

Not strictly speaking astronomy related, but i have to give a shout out to Kalzium. That is probably the single most useful version of the periodic table i've ever even heard of. It does everything. I mean, the normal one 'does everything'. But you can set it so that each element has a gradient depending on it's electronegativity. You have no idea how useful that is for seeing patterns :)

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It depends on what you mean by "astronomy software".

Planetariums and star charts:

  • Stellarium is first, because I'm biased :) At the moment, it can offer only basic support for LX200 and NexStar-compatible mounts, but I'm working on INDI support.
  • KStars is a part of the KDE apps, but you can install it with relatively few dependencies; it can control devices with INDI - if you have a webcam, you can probably use it with the v4l (video for linux) INDI driver to see the imaging interface in action.
  • Cartes du Ciel/Skycharts is multi-platform like Stellarium. The Linux version also can use INDI, though the INDI features are very basic
  • XEphem is free as in "free beer" for personal use; very professional; and yes, it can control a mount - the author is actually the guy who created the INDI protocol

Solar System simulators: Celestia is the only one I know

Telescope control:

  • Instrument Neutral Distributed Interface (INDI) is a XML-like protocol for controlling astronomical devices (and not only). The Linux INDI library is a C/C++-based implementation. There are INDI drivers for many popular mounts, and also for filter wheels, CCDs, cameras, domes, and even for the Spectracyber radio-astronomy... thing (spectrum analyser?).
  • OpenPHD is a Linux port of the PHD Guiding software. Supports INDI.
  • Device Control Device (DCD) is a stand-alone Python-based INDI client/control panel. CdC uses it as an optional INDI control panel. The project looks a bit abandoned, though.

(all the words in bold are links)

Edited to add: I have forgotten the Virtual Moon Atlas (by the same people as Cartes du Ciel) - it's also multiplatform. There is also a number of specialized applications, such as predict/gpredict for satellite orbits.

Edited by Daggerstab

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I came across this software the other day via a post from Grunthos in the thread http://stargazerslounge.com/observing-reports/174004-hard-game-hobby.html

I see no one's mentioned it here yet

en:start [Virtual Moon Atlas]

Its called the Virtual Moon Atlas and claims to run under Linux, although I've not tried it on Linux yet myself or even had much chance to play with it on Windows. Perhaps others have more experience of it.

Tyr

Edited by Tyr

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Thanks everyone for all the tip-offs on software applications. Everyone I've asked has mentioned Stellarium! :)

What about more image/telescope manipulation applications? Like I mentioned, I've tinkered (briefly) with AstroStack and have Registax6 in Wine. Are there others which do similar things and run in Linux/Wine?

I did look at XEphem, but I've no idea what it actually does. Looks very scientific.

By the way, if anyone wants to write Linux astronomy articles (as long as it uses Linux that's good enough for me) feel free and I'll print them. There's no guarantee of fame/fortune, but you'll definitely get full credit for it and about 20,000 readers/month.

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I may end up running two machines in my obsy - using Linux for my own control software which I'm writing for Linux and XP for scope/mount control and imaging.
Have a look at VirtualBox (if you haven't already done so). In short, it's a package that will let you install and run an instance of XP from inside your Linux machine. You still need a copy of XP to install, but so long as you have enough extra RAM - 500MB free will do - you can get away with just 1 machine running both Linux and XP.

The "manual" :) is somewhat impenetrable but you can, given enough patience and luck, get your XP (or Win7) to have direct control of USB ports and therefore any serial devices/cameras attached to them. I have a VB instance of XP that starts when I boot my Ubuntu box and it sits in workspace #8 in full screen. Once you click to that workspace the experience is indistinguishable from running native XP, except that you can move back to the native Linux environment just by changing workspaces. Software-wise the XP implementation is good enough to run Photoshop and other applications - though real-time video is a bit beyond it.

Edited by pete_l

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Thanks everyone for all the tip-offs on software applications. Everyone I've asked has mentioned Stellarium! :)

What about more image/telescope manipulation applications? Like I mentioned, I've tinkered (briefly) with AstroStack and have Registax6 in Wine. Are there others which do similar things and run in Linux/Wine?

I'm not sure i agree with the idea of reviewing apps that work in Wine in an article about Linux apps. Then you're just really reviewing a Windows program. If you look into how well it works then the time may be better spent on the AppDB.

SIRIL or ALE might be worth a look regarding image stacking. Can't seem to find any dedicated apps that have actually been developed in the past three years though :angry4:

I did look at XEphem, but I've no idea what it actually does. Looks very scientific.

It does seem to have a steep learning curve, but from what i can tell it does pretty much... everything? :icon_eek:

Edited by Superewza

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Have a look at VirtualBox (if you haven't already done so). In short, it's a package that will let you install and run an instance of XP from inside your Linux machine. You still need a copy of XP to install, but so long as you have enough extra RAM - 500MB free will do - you can get away with just 1 machine running both Linux and XP.
Yes, I've used VB but found Windoze is even dozier in it. As you say it works with USB whereas wind doesn't. I couldn't get FTP working with it last time I tried. I was trying to run Windows weather station software which needs USB to connect to the station and FTP to upload data to a web site.

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...and have Registax6 in Wine. Are there others which do similar things and run in Linux/Wine?

I can't seem to figure out what license (if any) Registax is distributed under. I wonder if it would be possible to think of us porting it to Linux?

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...but you can, given enough patience and luck, get your XP (or Win7) to have direct control of USB ports and therefore any serial devices/cameras attached to them.

My tip for best use of VirtualBox is to install the version from their website and NOT the one in your repository. Then you can install the extras from their website too this gives you full use of your USB ports. I use a VB with XP for my dad's iPod with iTunes.

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I'm not sure i agree with the idea of reviewing apps that work in Wine in an article about Linux apps. Then you're just really reviewing a Windows program. If you look into how well it works then the time may be better spent on the AppDB.

SIRIL or ALE might be worth a look regarding image stacking. Can't seem to find any dedicated apps that have actually been developed in the past three years though :)

The Linux native apps will get the focus of the article as the Wine apps should be, in my opinion, used as a last resort if there's nothing else. But, like you say, there's little native stuff on Linux so Wine seems to be a necessary evil at the moment. :icon_eek:

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My tip for best use of VirtualBox is to install the version from their website and NOT the one in your repository. Then you can install the extras from their website too this gives you full use of your USB ports. I use a VB with XP for my dad's iPod with iTunes.
Thank you :) Edited by Gina

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Thank you :)

You're welcome.

Another tip: remember that when you plug in your USB device you need to click the USB icon on the VB window and select which USB device it is you want to mount (in your virtual Windows).

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