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Ralph's Primary Software Tools

Planetarium software: I consult either Starry Nights Pro or EquinoX if I am looking for information about a future night sky.

Observing Management: My primary tool for operating the observatory telescope and managing an observing session has been AstroPlanner. It is a very powerful tool and has direct links to EquinoX. I use ScopeDriver when all I have to do is point the scope or update the mount information.

I have begun using TheSkyX Serious Astronomer; this is industrial-strength software with complexity to match. However, it is the only Mac astronomy application with TPoint, and it has dramatically improved my LX200R's GOTO accuracy. Software Bisque deserves kudos and many thanks for bringing this capability to the Macintosh platform.

Image Capture - CCD: When using a CCD camera (SBIG ST2000XCM), I go with Equinox Image for camera and guiding control.

Image Capture - DSLR: My preference is to use Nebulosity 2 on the Mac when shooting with my Canon EOS400D, but I can also run ImagesPlus in a Parallels session.

Image Capture - Planetary: If I am using the Starfish, I prefer Starlink, its native software. If I am using a Philips webcam, EquinoX with a driver from IOXperts works well for me. If I get a new Firewire camera, I will absolutely be running it with AstroIIDC - in many ways, I think this is the best capture software on any platform.

Guiding: I like the simplicity of PHD Guiding, and I use it with the Starfish camera. That said, EquinoX 6 now has a guiding feature that works well with webcams and supports the upcoming SBIG SG-4 guider.

Processing: I still stack in Keith's Image Stacker, altho I am now also using AstroIIDC Version 4, and I am still hopeful that, one day, Rod Kennedy will release his image processing application. And every almost image I ever do eventually finds its way to Photoshop, now CS3 Extended.


Other Mac Software

I have Pixelmator on the observatory computer. It is a very competent app for many image editing tasks. It has a slick GUI built on a modern code base (Xcode, CoreImage, etc.) and it is only $59. The publisher makes a full-featured demo available, so try it out here.

I also use Dark Adapted X, a red screen utility from the same folks who bring you ScopeDriver.