Microsoft Windows 10 Pro (64-bit) is installed on the laptop used to
connect the telescope and CCD in the observatory and it is connected to
the local area network with gigabit ethernet. Internet is provided via a
symmetrical 300 Mbps fibre broadband connection.
The observatory PC is
controlled using Microsoft Remote Desktop from a Windows 10 Pro desktop
PC in the house.
Camera Control Software
from Diffraction Limited. (supplied with Apogee cameras) provides
the interface between PC and the CCD camera
Astrometrica (Herbert Raab)
provides professional quality astrometric reduction, track & stack,
automated moving object detection and more.
versions up to 4.11 generate astrometry data files in the Minor
Planet Center's old 80-column
MPC1992 format. Astrometrica versions from 4.12 onward generate
ADES (Astrometry Data Exchange Standard) PSV formatted
text files only, see the
July 2018 ADES announcement and the
ADES Astrometry Parser.
Version 184.108.40.2068 (beta) has been used at Great Shefford since August
DR2 (Data Release 2) is the second intermediate release from ESA's
Gaia astrometry mission. It includes data for about 1.7 billion sources
down to magnitude 21, with a positional accuracy of about 0.002" for
stars of mag +20. Gaia DR1 was supported in Astrometrica from version
220.127.116.111 (November 2016) and used at Great Shefford from February 2017
to April 2018 when Gaia DR2 support was made available in a beta version
Astrometrica, finally released as version 18.104.22.1682 (July 2018).
(The Fourth US Naval Observatory CCD Astrograph Catalog) was released in
Herbert Raab added support for UCAC-4 to Astrometrica in version
22.214.171.1245 in February 2012 and it was used at Great Shefford from March
2013 until the GAIA DR1 catalogue was released. UCAC-4 includes about
114 million stars down to a limiting magnitude of approximately +16, to
a precision of 0.1" or better. It is still occasionally used when
the (online) Gaia catalogue is unavailable.
USNO A2.0 contains 526 million stars and is used for telescope position
synchronisation by Pinpoint from within Maxim DL/CCD during observing
runs. It is obsolete for astrometric purposes as it does not include
stellar proper motion information but at 5.9Gb is easily held on a hard
disk and has good all-sky coverage.
no longer used at Great
|FocusMax by Larry Weber and Steve Brady. Version 4 is available from
and can automatically control a number of focussers if
DL/CCD and the ASCOM
platform are installed. The now unsupported and unavailable free version
126.96.36.199 is still in use at Great Shefford, controlling the Meade LX200 GPS focuser
and this has been found to be very effective, being accurate and fast. Recommended.
|PoleAlignMax by Larry Weber and Steve Brady, version 2.0.55 is
available from the
Files section of the
FocusMax Yahoo User Group
and allows accurate and fast polar alignment using a CCD in conjunction
with either CCDSoft or Maxim/DL to take images and either Pinpoint or
The Sky to accurately work out the centre point coordinates of those
images. PoleAlignMax was used to align the equatorial mount of the
16" telescope at Great Shefford in June 2005 and was found to be
easy to use, fast and accurate. Recommended.
Image manipulation and astrometric reduction
|Pinpoint from DC-3 Dreams software (Bob
Denny), including customised version of Bob's Visual Pinpoint Visual
Basic program. Allows full manipulation of FITS images to be done
from other programming languages. Visual pinpoint is used at Great
Shefford to update the
FITS headers in images with the astrometrically reduced plate centre
etc. Highly recommended.
Meinberg NTP Service for Windows is used to correct the time on the
PC connected to the telescope.
Meinberg NTP Time Server Monitor is used to display service status.
Both applications are provided free.
5.3 from Thinking Man Software (Rob Chambers) updates the time on a PC
over the internet using one of over 100 time servers. A history of time adjustments
can be exported or graphically displayed. Used at Great Shefford until
superseded by Meinberg NTP Service (see above).
FindOrb from Project
Pluto (Bill Gray) provides a number of different orbital determination
methods to calculate orbital elements from astrometric
observations in either MPC (MPC1992 and ADES) or NEODys format. Highly recommended.
Sat_ID Satellite identification program for astrometrists
from Bill Gray allows standard MPC formatted positions of a satellite to
be identified with known satellites from a set of recent satellite
orbital elements. There is an online version
where many NEOCP objects that Bill has identified with artificial
satellites are listed.
|Custom written Visual Basic program for telescope and CCD control (CCDCamCtl)
|Custom written Visual Basic program to interpolate
positions from ephemerides and optionally send Speed and P.A. of motion
information to Astrometrica during image stacking. See
user guide for details of
full functionality and software download links.
CCD image logging
|Custom written Visual Basic program (CCDLog) that extracts details
from FITS headers using Pinpoint and writes into a Microsoft Access database for later analysis.
|Designed to provide a semi-transparent "Measurement
ruler" window to place over Astrometrica to help isolate the images in a
stacked set where a moving object passes close to stars, so that those
images can be rejected, resulting a cleaner astrometric measure of the
including user guide and software download links.
ADES Astrometry Parser
|Following an announcement in
July 2018 the Minor Planet Center adopted
ADES (Astrometry Data Exchange Standard) in August 2018 as the preferred format for
observers to supply astrometric information to them, superseding the older 80-column
MPC1992 format, though both formats are currently accepted by the
Astrometry Parser was written to allow ADES formatted files generated
directly from Astrometrica to be converted back to MPC1992 if needed, but
also to allow easy editing of the ADES files and to provide automatic
submission to the MPC, making ADES files just as easy to use as emailing
MPC1992 files has been.
including user guide and software download links.
Pack / Unpack MPC Designations
|Converts Minor Planet Center comet and minor planet
designations both ways between packed and unpacked formats. Handles most
current formats including numbered and provisional comets and minor
planets as well as split comets.
overview for details and software