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Please tell me how can I get ASTAP, BackyardEOS, my iOptron CEM60 mount, and Stellarium to work together to plate solve to achieve the centering of the image within my photos?


bremm001
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I have been trying to do plate solving with ASTAP, BackyardEOS (BYE), and Stellarium, using a stock image of M81 with Field of View of 0.9 x 0.6 degrees, with the objective of centering any object within the Field of View of my Canon 6D. Below is a log listing of a solve:

15:54:18  Start finding stars
15:54:18  104 stars found of the requested 500. Background value is 256. Detection level used 2495 above background. Star level is 2495 above background. Noise level is 83
15:54:18  104 stars found of the requested 500. Background value is 256. Detection level used 2490 above background. Star level is 2495 above background. Noise level is 83
15:54:18  173 stars found of the requested 500. Background value is 256. Detection level used 830 above background. Star level is 2495 above background. Noise level is 83
15:54:18  Finding stars done in 453 ms
15:54:18  173 stars, 125 quads selected in the image. 115 database stars, 83 database quads required for the square search field of 0.6°. Search window at 200%
15:54:18  Using star database H18
15:54:18  Search 0, [0,0],    position:     09: 55 34.0    +69° 03 40     Down to magn 15.9     460 database stars     343 database quads to compare.
15:54:18  quad outlier removed due to abnormal size: 99.148657%
15:54:19  quad outlier removed due to abnormal size: 99.172096%
15:54:19  quad outlier removed due to abnormal size: 101.126371%
15:54:19  quad outlier removed due to abnormal size: 100.822848%
15:54:19  4 of 8 quads selected matching within 0.007 tolerance.  Solution["] x:=-0.102886*x+ 0.571318*y+ -760.232898,  y:=-0.573935*x+ -0.104048*y+ 1759.981328
15:54:19  Solution found: 09: 55 34.0    +69° 03 40     Solved in 0.8 sec.     ? was 0.3".    No mount info.     Used stars down to magnitude: 15.9

Simultaneously, I was running my mount (iOptron CEM60) and Canon EOS 6D running BackyardEOS 3.2.2 – Premium Edition.   The Advanced Automation Center menu shows Target Name: M81 RA 09h 57m 16s DEC +68 57' 52”.  Acquire RA/DEC from source shows: Displayed Image [via PlateSolve]  Plate Solver is set to: ASTAP.  Duration 10, ISO 3200, Attempts 3, Pixels 100.  ASTAP Executable is showing: C:\Program Files\astap\astap.exe.  ASCOM iOptron2014.Telescope driver was running.  Stellarium had M81 in sight, and the Mount and Stellarium were Synced to Target.  Clicking on “Center” causes the mount to make a tick sound and caused the camera to take a 10 sec photo.  This camera photo is blank because I am indoors, not wanting to waste another dark night of failed attempts, but a 10-second stock image of M81 had been loaded into ASTAP.

Please tell me how can I get ASTAP,  BackyardEOS, my iOptron CEM60 mount, and Stellarium to work together to plate solve to achieve the centering of the image within my photos?  I have been using Astrotortilla (AT) with BackyardEOS for several years in a much slower, older laptop (the same stock image was quickly solved with AT in my Windows 7 x 32 bit laptop) very successfully.   AT is able to take this stock photo of M81, PlateSolve it, and move the mount to center the image in the camera's field of view in the first attempt in seconds!  ASTAP cannot do this.  I see there is no mount information getting to ASTAP.  Isn't this what is done in BackyardEOS 3.2.2 under the ASCOM Telescope menu? It was selected as ASCOM iOptron2014.Telescope.  I cannot see any other way to get mount info to ASTAP.

I would appreciate help on getting these 4 to work together as well as they did with Astrotortilla.  Thanks.
 

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The process is generally simple.

  1. You need BYE Premium Edition
  2. You need to connect your mount to BYE via the ASCOM controls
  3. You need to click "Advance Mode" in the imaging center
  4. You need to tell BYE where the ASTAP.exe file is located.
  5. You need to enter your object RA/DEC coordinate in BYE
    • if you have Carte du Ciel or if you use Telescopius you can have BYE get the RA/DEC from those source
    • BYE does not read these from Stellarium at the moment
    • This is not an issue because planetarium is only used to get the RA/DEC coordinates, not for plate solving, and not for centring either
    • Entering the RA/DEC manually achieves the same purpose
  6. Click slew or center

That is it.

However, please make sure you download the latest ASTAP as per previous post.

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@bremm001, When I was testing BYE and ASTAP, I was not able to discover a way to test end-to-end except under the stars.   Loading an image into the ASTAP viewer allows you to see that ASTAP is installed correctly and that you have ASTAP settings appropriate to your image format (CR2, CR3 or whatever) and field-of-view setting.   However, when you click "center" BYE is sending the image that it takes (blank as you say) to ASTAP using a command line version of ASTAP.  Thus, any image that you may have previously loaded into the ASTAP viewer is irrelevant.   Indoors, you can determine that BYE talks to ASTAP (by watching the log), talk to your mount (click "slew" for that) and talk to your planetarium program (alas, not Stellarium) but the end-to-end, take a picture, solve and move the mount test has to be under the stars.

Here is some additional advice that may help you with ASTAP...

1) If you are capturing RAW in BYE, it will send RAW to ASTAP.

2) ASTAP does its own conversion from RAW to FITS internally using either "dcraw" or "LibRaw".   In ASTAP, you select which conversion to use on the "Stack method" tab of the stack menu.

3) If your camera makes ".CR3" files, you need to use "LibRaw".  If your camera makes ".CR2" files, "dcraw" may work for you.

4) Assuming you are using BYE 3.2.2, Be sure to use ASTAP version ß0.9.554 or later (especially if you need to use LibRaw).

5) ASTAP is very sensitive to knowing the Field Of View height.   A wrong value can be a cause of failure to solve.  BYE does not have a way to set this value, so you need to launch ASTAP and go to the "Alignment" tab of the stack menu.   If you don't know the FOV value, ASTAP will figure it out for you if you select "auto".   Once you know the value for your setup, ASTAP will solve faster if you select the correct FOV value.

6) Especially if the field of view is small, be sure that you installed the "h18" star database.   You can check this in ASTAP by selecting the "Alignment" tab of the stack menu.

7) Before going out under the stars, load and solve a sample "raw" file (corresponding to your optical setup) using the ASTAP fits viewer.  This will confirm that ASTAP is setup correctly for your configuration (Camera + Telescope + Image file type).

😎If you still have problems solving, review this checklist: http://www.hnsky.org/astap.htm#conditions.

Regards,

-Bob

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