Dave’s AstroTour is a Windows app that controls your camera and astro mount to automatically shoot a selection of targets unattended overnight.
It uses digiCamContol for camera control which allows it to be used with a wide range of Canon, Nikon, Sony and other cameras. Integration with PHD2 provides autoguiding and it uses All Sky Plate Solver (ASPS) to provide accurate target centering. It can also import observing lists from Cartes du Ciel (CdC). Mount control is provided by ASCOM.
AstroTour uses plans which are a collection of targets which it shoots in sequence. Each target in a plan can have its own separate exposure time, ISO, aperture and total capture time.
Quick Start Guide
- Launch Cartes du Ciel, create observing list and save to file.
- Launch digiCamControl and connect camera.
- Optional: Launch PHD2 and/or All Sky Plate Solver.
- Launch AstroTour>General and select ASCOM mount and working folder.
- Optional: Configure PHD2 and/or All Sky Plate Solver pages.
- Open Targets page and configure duration, ISO and other settings.
- Open Plan page and click Import CdC button to import observing list.
- Click Shoot Plan Now button (or set start date-time and then click Start Plan At button.
AstroTour is very simple and is designed to be worked from left to right across the pages starting at General. Status messages are displayed in the top title bar and are copied in the Log page.
You should choose your ASCOM mount and top working folder here. You can also save the current AstroTour settings or load previously saved settings.
The digiCamControl command line lets you send commands to dCC and the return values are displayed in the Log page. This is handy for coders trying out dCC.
PHD2 (only if Allow AstroTour to control PHD2? is ticked)
Ensure PHD2 is running and that PHD2>Tools>Enable Server is checked.
AstroTour will then control PHD2 to turn on and off autoguiding as required.
AstroTour will also instruct PHD2 to dither between light shots.
The dither amount will be applied randomly in amount and direction.
Drift – maximum guide distance for guiding to be considered stable or “in-range”.
Settle time – minimum time to be in-range before considering guiding to be stable.
Timeout – time limit before guiding startup is considered to have failed.
ASPS (only if Plate solve each target? is ticked)
ASPS needs to be correctly configured before AstroTour can use it. You should ensure that it is working properly in standalone mode before using it in AstroTour.
There is an option in AstroTour>ASPS “Use delta rather than synch?” Normally, AstroTour will synch the mount to the coordinates returned by ASPS and then slew to the target coordinates. If you enable the delta option the mount will not be synched. Instead, AstroTour will calculate the delta RA and Declination between the ASPS result and the target coordinates and nudge the mount to compensate.
The quick start guide above assumes that you are importing a CdC observing list. However, you can also add targets manually using this page. Be sure that the Declination sign (+ or -) is correct.
This page contains a series of buttons which allow you to edit your plans. You can also edit individual targets so that each target has different parameters such as ISO, exposure time, aperture, etc. Make sure that the Av value is exactly as given in the Av dropdown. For instance, if 22.0 is in the dropdown then editing it to 22 will not work.
You can start shooting a plan immediately or set it up to start automatically at a future date and time.
This shows a log of the current session with newest entries at top. A separate log file is also saved.