This version of AstroDMx Capture is a feature release which includes important new functionality. There have been significant improvements to the astrometric functionality, an assisted meridian flip function has been added together with FITS metadata improvements.
The Astrometry functionality has been completely rewritten and the UI has been redesigned.
The most significant change is the addition of the Astrometry.Net online plate solver. This solver can be used in conjunction with ASTAP but has the benefit of solving in the cloud which means that plate solves are unlikely to fail, even if the imaging field of view is very small or there are few stars. Of course, in order to use this, the user will require and active Internet connection.
In order to use Astrometry.Net the user will be required to obtain an API key. API keys are obtained by registering for an account at astrometry.net and then entering it into the plate solver configuration. Once this information has been added, the Astrometry.Net solver can be used in the same way that ASTAP is used.
In previous releases, the AstroDMx Capture plate solver had to be manually run multiple times in order to obtain the required target accuracy. This has now been automated. The user can now enter a target accuracy, and when solving starfields, the solver will keep running automatically until the target accuracy has been met. If it is not possible to reach the requested target accuracy, then AstroDMx will stop solving once the user defined number of plate solves has been reached. In which case, a message will appear alerting the user that the target accuracy has not been reached.
The plate solver UI has been simplified by separating the solver configuration from the actual astrometic functionality. This applies to all astrometic functions. For example, the starfield solver, image solver and meridian flip solver.
Assisted Meridian Flip
If AstroDMx detects that the object being imaged has transited the meridian the user is alerted and offered the choice of performing a meridian flip. After flipping the mount, AstroDMx will automatically plate solve to ensure that the mount is still pointing at the correct coordinates.
AstroDMx Capture has had various functions that can be controlled by dragging the mouse over the preview screen for the earliest versions. However, it has never been well defined how these functions work. This functionality has been improved in version 2.2.1.
At the top of the main window of AstroDMx Capture, there is a drop-down box which allows the user to select the mode for the mouse. The modes are as follows:
- ROI: A Region of Interest can be drawn over a required area of the preview screen. This will define a new region of interest
- Reticle: The custom reticle can be moved around the preview screen
- Pan: If operating in mouse panning mode and the image being previewed is larger than the preview area, the mouse can be used to pan around the image. If not operating in mouse panning mode, then this function does nothing. The user can still move around the preview screen by using the scroll bars.
The changes in this release are significant enough to require changes to the documentation which will be updated in due course.