Feature Request: SGP and ACP Planner

I wonder, is there any plan to additionally support ACP Planner files in addition to SN and AstroPlanner for target import?

These are probably different animals… maybe I’m wrong, but SN and AstroPlanner specialize in being a planetarium and “observing planner” respectively, they happen to output lists of targets we can consume and make sequences from. ACP specializes in the creation of target data and then its subsequent automation of image capture. So… correct me if I’m wrong, but if somebody shells out the money for ACP (great application BTW), then the likelihood of them wanting to export that list to SGPro for capture is pretty slim right?

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Ken - no, don’t worry, I had no intention shelling out for ACP when I have SGP :wink:
ACP itself does not do the multiple target planning. It uses an independent utility, ACP Planner, which is free and downloadable from. http://acp.dc3.com/planner.html

It works harmoniously with Starry Night and TSX and exports a file. An ACP plan is just a list of targets with image/filter specs and optional timing info. No different to the others really.

All this year SGP has effortlessly provided nearly all my automation needs and wholly remotely too via Microsoft Remote Desktop. The only things I have to do manually at present are for start up: checking the weather before starting a sequence (rather than have SGP monitor the weather and decide for itself whether to kick things off) and setting the start and end times for a target - working out the times over which its altitude is over my imaging horizon of 35 deg.
It occurred to me that approximate imaging times might be loaded at the time of importing the target information into a sequence, as default values, which can then always be overridden. It is not perfect - as each night it will be slightly delayed, but then SGP handles lost guide stars etc very well and it would shut down a little earlier each night anyway.

Anyway - it was just thought. clear skies

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The problem is, you wouldn’t re-create your sequences every night. It’d be neat if it could just figure out the math. When I used CCDCC, it had some type of math it would do to figure out when an object was above a certain altitude that was pretty darn impressive. It also used that to calculate where/when to take sky flats.

You are right - I was researching and playing with CCDC just today and noticed the ability to start and terminate at a certain altitude. It’s quite possible there is an ASCOM utility in astrometry that does the ephemerides calculation.

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It is not in NOVAS but I found this reference to the trigonometry


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There are ASCOM helper functions that will do all sorts of Astometry computations - in the ASCOM.Astrometry namespace and in the ASCOM manuals.

The Transform class is designed to make conversionns between topocentric and astronomica coordinates easy but only for the current time. The NOVAS and SOFA classes can do this for different times. AIUI SOFA is considered to be better.

Chris R

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You ASCOM guys are pretty amazing.

Could SGP basically poll ASCOM for the info then?

Mads, it would appear that if SGP can wait for a certain time to start a sequence, it could equally take the target RA/DEC coordinates and local time to calculate current target altitude compare against a starting altitude. I think it is already on the feature request list. Thinking about it, the pre-event scripting feature currently in SGP might accomplish the same thing - start the sequence but hold the event until a VBScript said the mount altitude was higher than a threshold.

For info I did some more googling on ACP planner - and came across this free editing utility

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That’s awesome. I’ll check it out.

I want automatic scripting so badly (with weather recovery)!


what would be really really great would be an add-on that could recover weather and calculate which target in a sequence to branch depending on time / altitude.

Let’s assume you have a sequence with different targets because you want to shoot only from alt1 to alt2. Let’s assume it starts to rain and 2 hours after that : fantastic clear sky. You want your imaging session to start again and jump to the best target in its list…

Imagine still better : one sequence with multi-targets that would span over several nights… for exemple I would set this up before going for hollyday. SGP would be able to run the sequence on the different nights even if it rains during a part of one night…

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M, That’s more than most can do, including those that are 10x the cost of SGP. Nice thought though ;}
There is an Altitude property for a telescope object. For now, maybe a simple script called in SGP sequencer. I’ll have to check, but if the scope has already slewed to target and is calling the first event, the script has to terminate before it continues. If you chose a start time when it was dark, I think it would start imaging when the scope passed (in this case) 40 deg or did nothing for 5 hours. The ABSolute function is for Southern Hemisphere folks.

set scope = createobject(telescope name)
scope.connected = true
altitude = 40 ’ degrees
timeout = 0
condition = false
Do until condition
condition = timeout > 300 or abs(scope.altitude) > altitude
wscript.sleep 60000 ’ 1 min
timeout = timeout + 1
scope.connected = false

I quickly tried this in a Maxim sequence with simulators and it worked

Hi Buzz !
In fact, a french developper did a good job at writing a software that can manage MaximDL, PHD2, FocusMax, etc and manage a whole imaging session with ALOT of options everywhere, that can lead to a quite complex workflow… but still not that thing, though… but I imagine that if most of the objects involved in a sequence would be exposed in an API, we could simply script that kind of things in a session…

Your approach to the problem is an interesting path ! Is there a way in a script called in an event to abort a sequence or to abot the current target ? This could be a way to check the conditions in the begining of each target and if the target has already passed the limit of the altitude max we want to image, then it goes to the next target in the sequence, etc…

Yes, I’m aware of MaxPilote. I prefer the integrated approach of SGP and the ergonomic UI.

I’m not an expert at scripting and just starting to experiment. I anticipate that SGP will implement further enhancements in due course. Their challenge is always to to this without making the software impossible to use by newcomers. My experiments are only intended as a stop-gap and out of interest.

In the sequence window you can call a script before and after each event. Don’t quote me but I think you can delay an event, as we have been discussing previously but I do not think you could skip an event. I recall either K or J had clear views that they wish to keep control over the exposure sequence rather than relinquish it to third party. I’m content to tinker with scripts and use SGP as is.

I’ll try out some ideas out and do a dry run in SGP to see what I can and cannot do.

[update] this worked in SGPwith my PMX - I called the script at the beginning of the first event.

set scope = createobject(“ASCOM.SoftwareBisque.Telescope”)
scope.connected = true
min_altitude = 40 ’ degrees
maxtime = 240 'minutes
timeout = 0
condition = timeout > maxtime or scope.altitude > min_altitude 'for immediate execution
Do until condition
wscript.sleep 60000 ’ 1 min
condition = timeout > maxtime or scope.altitude > min_altitude
timeout = timeout + 1
scope.connected = false

MaxPilote/CCDCC can do that. It’s not that expensive besides being an add-on to MaximDL. But, you’re right, we should probably expect to pay extra for this feature if they decide to do it.

All I can say is keep asking for these features and Jared/Ken will get to it when they see the demand is there.