Re: Planetarium software recommendation (windows)

Andrew Jones

Thanks Dan for the topic. 

You hit upon one my hot buttons. I think I have have tried them all. It is amazing to me how difficult it is to find a decent Planatarium software for Imaging. I paid more than care to think about for for the pro versions of TSX + Camera Addon + Dome Add On and I rarely use it. Same goes for Starry Night Pro 7  

TSX Pro tries to do everything, but it is a beast of a program in my opinion. I can never find anything as they departed from every known software navigation methodology known to man. What is so hard about File, Edit, View, Tools, Hardware, etc? Why would you completely go off and create a unique navigation structure that doesn't match any other software on the planet? I do like the TSX Closed Loop slew when it works, but I find it to be quite slow and sometimes can take ages to come back particularly if it was unable to plate solve the image. There is no status windows or display that shows you the progress so you don't know if the process is hung and there is no way to cancel the process once started without just killing the program. It has some decent technology, but is in serious need of a make over, IMHO.

Then there are Stallarium, and CDC, which are a little easier to navigate, but have limited functionality and in the case of Stallarium no native ASCOM support.  

Starry Night has the best graphics of the bunch, but this also means it is a memory hog which if I am running on the same PC as my imaging software consumes a lot of resources. I wish it had camera support and closed loop slew functionality as even though it is resource intensive, i would probably use it if it had these capabilities.  

At the moment I have settled on CDC as it does allow me to see what objects are up and has the ability to slew to objects, but without any camera support it also can't do precision centering. It does have native ASCOM support, so it is easy to connect to an AP mount which is why I tend to use it. I can slew to objects and then copy and paste the coordinates into Sequence Generator Pro's Framing and Mosaic Wizard to get it to center on the object. 

All of this of course is my own personal opinion and experiences with these Planetarium Software packages. I am sure there are people here who love some of the ones I despise (like TSX). I am not really looking to get into a debate about one program over another. I just wanted share what my experience has been as I have gone through an extensive search for a good Planetarium software that is really designed for imaging. Most of the existing Planetarium software have their roots in supporting the visual observer. The added some GoTo and Imaging capability later, mostly as an after thought. 

Maybe as imaging gains in popularity someone will build a Planetarium software from the ground for imaging, but at the moment all of the available options have their limitations, IMHO. In the end I guess you have to pick one that gives you most of what you need. I would start with the free one's first as I have learned spending more money on these programs does not guarantee better functionality.

Just my personal experience.

Andrew J

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