SGPro 4.3 Update: AutoFlats, Custom Horizons and more

Hey folks,

Just a quick update on new stuff coming for SGPro. The 4.3 release is starting is pretty close to beta, but there is more to do yet. We’re working as quickly as we can to get it out…

A note: These types of posts are purposely made in an area where anyone can reply. We absolutely encourage this and welcome thoughts and feedback. That said, sometimes the “coming soon” posts trigger thoughts like, “that’s nice, but what about [this thing that I want]?”. That’s great and we want to know what that thing is… but if you post it here it will get lost or be forgotten. Stated simply:

Please post things related to these new changes here and for unrelated things, post them in the #sequence-generator:feature-requests topic. Thanks!

What’s in 4.3?

New Feature: AutoFlats!

A long requested feature and more. Complete automation of flats as part of a sequence… handles both flat boxes and sky flats. A very detailed write up (documentation) is here: Introducing AutoFlats (coming soon in the 4.3 beta)

New Feature: Custom Horizons!

This release will come in 2 parts:

  • The first, delivered in 4.3, will focus on definition of custom horizons for your User Profiles, display of horizons on the Planning Assistant (target transit) and, finally warnings produced as a result of how the target interacts with the horizon during your capture session.
  • The second, likely in 4.4, will integrate the target - horizon interactions into the sequence in two ways: 1.) Using the horizon as default minimums for target start and end. For example, if you specify starting at a target altitude of 25 deg, but the horizon indicates the target will not be visible until 32 deg, the start time will be adjusted automatically (and displayed). Or you may have specified a target end time at 01:30, but the target goes below the horizon at 00:45. In this case, the target may end earlier (see #2 for the “may” part) than requested and move onto the next target. 2.) Second, allow the sequence to be more resilient when interacting with obstructions defined in the horizon. For example, say that all kinds of failure happen when your target goes behind some trees, but those trees only occupy about 3 degrees of azimuth and when the target clears them, it will still have plenty of good imaging time left before it sets. Instead of failing or going into a recovery mode, SGPro will patiently wait for the all clear on the other side of the trees (and will also display what it is doing and when it will be clear).

For the first part of custom horizons in 4.3, here is a quick video so you can see the editor, target overlay and warning system in action (make sure to click the gear icon and bump up the resolution of the vide so you can read the text):

More here:

New Feature: Support for Below the Pole Meridan Flips!

Long overdue and a welcome addition for those living closer to a pole, SGPro will now perform meridian flips when the target crosses below the pole (and will even execute multiple flips per session if you live through 40 days of night).

Lastly, also a fairly popular request:

New Feature: Sync Sequence Progress with Disk!

In an ideal world, everything would be perfect and sequence progress, as indicated in SGPro, would always be in sync with the images stored on disk. In reality, AP can be messy sometimes and maybe you needed to reset progress, or did it accidentally, or maybe one of a dozen other things happened that caused them to diverge. Now, unless you modify the number captured for each event, you will start to see images saved with file names very similar to existing one, but with a suffix like _1, _2, etc. Using this feature will automatically inspect the disk and update the sequence to match. You’ll also be able to indicate that you’d like the the new progress sync to run automatically whenever a sequence is started.

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I forgot to add one thing. Not that folks have been clamoring for it, but the addition of AutoFlats has forced us to support slewing for Alt/Az so we thought that we might as well expose this stuff since it would require very little effort. In 4.3, we have exposed manual mount slewing in the control panel. If you need to use this a lot, something is wrong, but for occasional one-off use, it can be handy. Outside of a sequence, you can now:

  • Slew manually to RA / Dec location
  • Slew manually to Alt / Az location
  • Slew to common positions used for capturing sky flats (you should use AutoFlats for this most of the time)

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Excellent additions! Just a note of thanks for continuing to push the boundaries of what SGP can do, and adding really useful features.

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Agree, looking forward to the 4.3 Beta.

Dave

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Well done and thanks for the continued updates, fixes, and additions!

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I’m really looking forward to the AutoFlats. It looks like you guys have done a great job with a complex issue. I feel a little guilty asking for a change/addition before it actually comes out. I need to use dark flats. would it be possible to produce, for each AutoFlat, a second copy but using the dark filter and thus producing a dark flat? This would give us dark flat users a totally automated process. Thanks

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You shouldn’t… it’s really the main reason we promote these new features early.

Possibly. That said we will almost certainly address this need in some manner. But, alas, the complexity of AutoFlats creates a situation for us where we really needs to get some miles on it and allow it to stabilize before we add things like this.

Thanks Ken. With Skyflats, can you choose both dusk and dawn flats. This way, if for some reason the dusk flats fail or are incomplete, you can get the dawn flats. Or would this happen automatically if you just chose dusk flats.

You can for sure. In this case, once you have gone through the setup process, the only thing left to do is enable (or disable) flats for before and after the sequence is finished. If both are enabled, AutoFlats will capture at dusk, and, if it was not able to finish, do so at dawn. Note the “after sequence” AutoFlats runs will run for almost all sequence termination types, but, it should be noted, that some types of sequence failures will not run AutoFlats after the sequence terminates.

This is the AutoFlats setup dialog for “in-sequence” runs. All values here also belong to the equipment profile so they can be used in future sequences.

Many thanks for introducing the below pole flip. SGPro failed to command North facing Meridian flip - #13 by Dave

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Is there an ETA on when this Beta will be available? Just curious. Thanks.

Soon. Hopefully early February but that’s just a rough estimate. We’re working on buttoning up a couple of things and testing now.

Jared

Will the “Auto Flats” automatically adjust the exposure time to keep within the requested ADU? Or will it find the exposure time for the first image and set the rest of the images to that time?

It had been five month from we heard SPG 4.3 beta. Can it’ll be new subscription course for more adding payment or within annual payment ? My subscription will end soon, so I am considering
if it should be continue this subscription or keep stay 4.2. I am a little bit tired for waiting.

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Hi Jared!

Thanks for the new features in the 4.3 beta. Image inspection and excentricity are fantastic features!!! This is great! Thanks a lot.

So… when will the new 4.3 beta transfer into a standard version? What do you guess? I have started astrophotography with the early versions of ASIAIR. A lot off trouble occurred when versions changed. This is why I am generally a little worried when I install a beta version.

But again… thanks for your efforts!
All the best
Jan

It’s hard to predict, but I suspect the answer to this relies solely with AutoFlats. It is, by far, the most complex of all the new features added. If I were forced to guess, I would say around 8 weeks, but again, it’s purely a guess.

Ok.

But just one thing. There seems to be an issue with plate solving in 4.3…0.1064 (32bit).
When I load an image from my hard drive and try to plate solve, nothing happens. In older versions of SGP, usually a window pops up where I can specify pixel scale, etc. But this does happen in 4.3.0.1064 on my PC (, Intel NUK, i5/ 16GB, 1Tb SSD, Win11). When I jump back to SGP 4.2.0.1052 (32bit), everything again works as usual. ASTAP (2023-02.17) seems to be correctly installed…

Could you check this? Is this a bug?

Thank you very much, and all the best
Jan