Equipment and Software for astronomy

Choosing Equipment

Choosing an astronomical telescope

Suppliers

First Light Optics

SCS Astro

Optical Vision Ltd.

Useful Software for Astronomy

- Weather based

Meteoblue A very useful meteorological site with special tools for astronomers. It can be customized for your own location.
jet stream forecast The jet stream is what can really mess up seeing whne it is overhead.
Metcheck A meteorological site with astronomy specific information. It is ery similar information to Meteoblue and can also be customized fro your own postal code.
BBC weatherA reasonable weather summary but not enough information to be very useful for astronomy.
Meteorological officeadded this for completeness, not a very good site for an astronomy viewpoint, very complicated and does not tell you very much. Somehow it tries too hard but does not really end up being very useful.

- Planetarium software

Stellarium This is brilliant free planetarium software – It is superb for looking to see what is up tonight and also modeling events in the past or future
Carte de cielvery good free planetarium software. It has more technical features than Stellarium and I use it for comet data and charting
Celestia A meteorological site with astronomy specific information. It is ery similar information to Meteoblue and can also be customized fro your own postal code.
Virtual moon atlasAn extremely useful application for finding your way around the moon and also discovering what you are look at. I regard this as essential for lunar observation.
WinjuposThis is a very capable application for analyzing Jupiter and other solar system objects.

- Image Capture software

APT "Astro Photography Tool" a general purpose, fully featured application for deep sky astro-imaging. Widely compatible - Canon EOS DSLR or ASCOM compatible CCD, APT is good for planning, collimating, aligning, focusing, framing, controlling, imaging, analyzing and monitoring. Very capable software.
Sharpcap2SharpCap is a comprehensive webcam and astronomy camera capture tool. It has a wide compatibility with webcams and similar cameras.
WXastrocapture A meteorological site with astronomy specific information. It is ery similar information to Meteoblue and can also be customized fro your own postal code.

- Image Capture software

Registax6 A wonderfully capable piece of software for stacking and processing images from webcams. It is the standard package used by many amateurs to produce amazing results. Takes a little getting used to but is reasonably straightforward. The apparent simplicity of the application hides the very sophisticated technology that drives it. Software such as this has revolutionized astronomical imaging of planets and the moon.
Autostakkert2Frame stacking software for webcam images. Does a similar job to Registax, although does not have the image processing part. I have experimented with both, each has its merits but I cannot say one is better than the other. If you use Autostakkert you will need to save the file as a TIF file and import it into Registax for final processing.
Deepsky stackerThis is a very capable application for using DSLR or CCD camera data, along with all its calibration files and stacking them for processing in other packages.
GIMPGeneral Image Manipulation Program – this is a fully featured application for processing and enhancing images, not just astronomical. There are plenty of on-line tutorials. It can also do things that certain expensive paid for packages cannot, for example it can make super animated GIFFs – very useful for presentations and websites.
Image AnalyserThis is a very capable application for enhancing astronomical images (or any other others for that matter). It has a limited range of tools but it does have some different ones that can be very useful. It has some good deconvolution filters for sharpening for example. Certainly worth a look.
Imagenomic noiseware – community editionThis is rather clever noise suppression software. The paid for version is very versatile, the free version is less tweakable but still has very effective algorithms for intelligently removing
IrisFully featured astronomical image acquisition and processing software. I must confess I have added this for completeness. I have tried a number of times to use it without any success at all, although others praise it. It appears to be very comprehensive but its user interface is complicated to put it mildly. I will keep trying as it appears to have some very useful tools.

- Useful Websites for Astro software etc

Sky and telescopehave some really useful tools:
Great Red Spot Transit calculatorWhat more needs to be said, it does what it says.
EarthSky – A daily summary of interesting science news (mainly astronomy related) – best subscribed to to get a daily e-mail
Cosmic Pursuits (previously One Minute Astronomer) – A weekly e-mail with links to an astronomy topic of interest.
Deep Sky Hunter An excellent deep sky object reference site - with object lists and Star atlas available for download.

Nick Busby and Geoff Morgan, 2016