The Arizona show (ASAE) is coming, and boy do we have some goodies in store! I, by the way, (warning shameless plug here!) will be giving two featured talks at SWAP, one on equipment selection, and one on DSLR imaging, both aimed at the beginning imager. Not
"Bisque commercials" mind you, but all about the art and science of imaging itself. Wednesday, they are having several "Comrade in Arms" sessions, which are essentially roundtable discussions between fellow imagers. I'm presiding over two of those intended for TheSkyX and Paramount users. I'm looking forward to that as well!
Most of my efforts lately have been on the next version of TheSky HD for iOS. There's a good deal of new imaging related plumbing in place now, and the first few new features are far enough along to turn loose. First is an integrated FITS viewer. Drag your FITS files into the file sharing section of iTunes and they will show up as User Data much like you can already copy over .SDB files from TheSkyX. The FITS viewer features linear white and black point adjustments, zoom and pan with multi-touch gestures, and it works on any sized FITS file, even those too large to fit in the device's RAM.
The FITS viewer is available by selecting a FITS file from the list of user added files, but also from a brand new Tools menu, located at the bottom right toolbar. The new
Tools menu has a few other additions besides the FITS viewer. There are new screens for weather and IP camera monitoring. You can configure your own URL's for either, and quickly spot check the weather, or perhaps an all sky camera at your observatory right from within the app. There's also a new Planner feature, that I'm very excited about. In the first release, you're getting just the first cut of what all I envision for this feature. A graph shows the elevation of the sun and moon for a particular date, and you can add your own objects as well. All the find and identify popovers have a new button +Plan, which adds the object to your planner list. Select the object in the planner, and a graph shows the objects altitude throughout the night. You can also move back and forth through time either by day or month (hourly sliders will be in the next release). Your planning list is also persistent, when you restart, it remembers
the objects of interest. You can clear them all, or delete individual items with a quick left swipe.
I've saved the best for last, and literally the tip of the iceberg for what is to come. You can now connect to a copy of TheSkyX Pro from the
iPad application. TheSkyX Pro can be on a desktop in a remote observatory, connected to a laptop in your backyard or dark sky site.... and sometime next year, to our Linux based "SkyBox" hosted copy. You can control the telescope from the iPad naturally, and for this next release you can take images by remote control. Select the filter, exposure time, and binning, and start an exposure. The resulting fits file is downloaded in the background and available for viewing via the FITS viewer. This isn't observatory automation (yet <g>), but rather a powerful outreach or planning tool. Imagine a crowd of school children while you slew around taking images of celestial objects with your iPad...
I've said in the past that the iPad version was going to become more and more focused on the needs of the imager. How to "practically" image from a tablet device has been something we have been thinking about for quite a while, and these are just the first fruits of that. There's going to be a lot of growth in
capabilities over the next year, so stay tuned!
10-03-2014 1:11 PM