Notice: this article is currently available in italian only.
I will translate it soon. You may contact me via comments if you want me to “prioritize” this article first.

Giusto qualche appunto per “festeggiare” l’upgrade della mia strumentazione astronomica 🙂
Dopo un po’ di anni di fedeltà al mio newton 130/650 (per la verità non ancora sfruttato abbastanza, ma tanto sarà sempre lì pronto per nuove avventure) ho deciso che era il caso di prendere qualcosa di un po’ più impegnativo.

Il nuovo telescopio è un tubo ottico Meade ACF 8″ (203mm), usato d’occasione, trattato davvero bene, su montatura equatoriale HEQ5.

Un telescopio particolarmente generico: ottimo per l’osservazione visuale, ottimo per l’astrofotografia (prima o poi comincerò ad applicarmici, anche se spero di conservare sempre il mio “spirito visualistico” 😛 ), ottimo anche per l’osservazione dei pianeti, che in mancanza di occasioni migliori per collaudare le ottiche hanno comunque regalato qualche soddisfazione.

A presto per l’inaugurazione sul campo, spero 🙂

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In the last few months I started again deditcating more time on astronomy and star gazing.

To better organize my star gazing sessions I started developing a software capable of suggesting celestial object from various catalogues, choosing them among the best visible ones for the selected date and place, and that’s how SkyPlanner got started.

SkyPlanner has many features useful for visual observations: it allows searching and even suggests many objects from many catalogues, such as Messier, NGC/IC, Abell, Arp, MCG, UGC; provides information about the star gazing session, for instance weather, sun and moon rise/set time, moon phase; allows you to set your own telescopes, automatically estimating each object difficulty for the selected instrument; downloads preview images of the object field from the Digitized Sky Survey Archive, presents additional catalogue information and allows you to set your own notes before and after the visual observation.

The objects list is automatically sorted by transit time, creating a printer-friendly star gazing schedule.

I hope this software will help many of you organizing your best star gazing sessions!

I’m open for suggestions, feedback and error reporting, both in my blog here, or through  SkyPlanner feedback form page. A more detailed features list and review is in this page.

A special thanks to Alessia, who helped in many ways, providing suggestions, ideas, testing, writing some catalogues importers.

Happy star gazing!

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As i wrote some days ago, I planned on doing some hack so control KStars with a Wiimote.

It turned out KStars isn’t the right target, as it seems to have no plug-in support (and I don’t want to modify core yet, as i’m still in an experimental phase).
But reading data from wiimote and correctly interpreting was already done some days ago, thought it was a little bit hard, so I switched to Stellarium instead.

This is the result:

Of course it’s just experimental code, it’s barely usable.. but it’s a start.
Source is here: https://github.com/rockman81/StellariumWiimotePlugin

Now some technical stuff:
The Wiimote gyro sensors aren’t easy to read, as they don’t send you current angle, but only
It doesn’t report current angle, instead it does report angular speed.
But afterall you can deduce current angle just dividing speed by elapsed time between each message report.
I had to do some tries before finding the proper way of “moving view window” on Stellarium.
It’s not so well documented, and i’m not exactly happy about current solution, but it works, and i’ll ask some help in their mailing list soon.
This solution anyway is easier than i thought, as it only receives as input angles delta, meaning it’s also easy to “align” your telescope to stellarium (just point an object with telescope, then manually point stellarium to that object).
What’s missing:

  • better calibration (angles “seem” correct, but i’m not entirely sure…)
  • better movement translation (i’m ignoring one axis, they should be all taken into account, and compensate misalignment).
  • Maybe some alternative way of displaying wiimote data in stellarium, such as a “virtual” object in sky. this way you can see how close is your telescope to a desired object.
  • Equatorial mount support (currently if there is an axis rotation it’s not detected and properly corrected, and it’s interpreted the wrong way).
  • ….many other stuff, but it’s too early to get a detailed list 😛

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Finalmente sono riuscito a finire l’elaborazione di un insieme di riprese lunari che avevo girato ad agosto 2011.
Ci ho messo parecchio sia per mancanza di tempo, sia perchè per elaborare avevo bisogno di registax.. che però esiste solo per windows (e io windows, per definizione, non lo avvio praticamente mai...).
Alla fine sono riuscito a capire come farlo funzionare con wine su Linux, senza fargli occupare tonnellate di RAM (il grosso problema è che con registax con wine non gestisce gli AVI compressi... ma esportando l’avi in immagini PNG è miracolosamente andato), e quindi a riprendere l’elaborazione.

Dati di ripresa: ho usato un Celestron Astromaster 130EQ, focale 650mm, fuoco diretto.

Webcam Microsoft Lifecam HD 3000, risoluzione 1280×720 (un po’ troppo rumorosa sugli oggetti deboli, ma tutto sommato accettabile per uso astronomico).
Ho elaborato i filmati con Registax 6, quindi messo insieme il mosaico con Hugin, splendido software Open Source (si, anche per Linux, niente wine quindi).

Il mosaico risultante è stato poi rielaborato con Gimp.

Moon - Mosaic

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