Telescopic Satellite Tracking software

From: Greg Roberts (grr@telkomsa.net)
Date: Mon Jan 03 2011 - 16:13:17 UTC

  • Next message: George Roberts: "Re: Telescopic Satellite Tracking software"

    Hi Alain
    
    There are quite a few programs available but there is no ideal program - 
    those programs that have tracking of satellites seem to be more of an after 
    thought than a serious effort to achieve this.
    
    Some of the programs that may have some use are:
    
    OPTIC TRACKER -- a free restricted version was made available a few months 
    ago but to the best of my knowledge I dont know anyone who has really used 
    it - certainly it has not been used for any positional work yet and apart 
    from some excitement by potential ISS trackers shortly after its release 
    there has been silence.
    
    UNIMAP - a freeware program still in development seems to have some 
    potential for satellite work - it does use an ASCOM telescope driver but Im 
    not aware of anyone using it yet.  It also has a nice routine for solving 
    images for positional work and uses JPG images. When I tried it with FITS 
    images the screen went white so appears it cant handle my type of FITS 
    images.  Its still very much in development so maybe some hope in this 
    direction.
    
    Several commercial programs have satellite capability with GOTO systems  - 
    here are three such programs:-
    
    STARRY NIGHT PRO V6 only handles a limited number of satellites - I think 
    the number is 150 - so I havent bothered with it, but it might be okay for 
    some form of telescopic "tracking" although I think its fair to say that 
    NONE of the better known planetarium type programs have the ability to send 
    commands to a telescope to enable it to TRACK ON on a leo or other 
    satellite.
    
    THE SKY V6 is said to have some satellite capability - I dont have this 
    program so cant comment.
    
    GUIDE 8 has limited satellite GOTO capability - I havent tried it - and I 
    believe the problem is similar to that which I found with RTGUI.
    
    CARTE DU CIEL ( SKY CHARTt) has some GOTO capability but does not have an 
    internal prediction program and uses files from a seperate program -- this 
    was with the older version of this program.(V2.76?)  . The new version 
    (V3.2) does not handle satellites yet ?
    
    Brents SATELLITE TRACKER has some potential but it seems to be a bit 
    finicky - at least the ISS satellite trackers seem to have problems with it 
    and it also is a bit buggy for some satellites so I have not bothered to 
    look at it.
    
    HEAVENSAT does not have GOTO capability yet but the author is working on it 
    and in my opinion this is THE program to watch.
    
    STELLARIUM has limited satellite GOTO capability but only handles a limited 
    number of satellites. This part of Stellarium is still in very early stages 
    but is worth keeping an eye on - I just wish they would change the way of 
    getting satellite elements into it - not very useful to most trackers - for 
    example files have to be downloaded from the internet and it cant handle 
    zipped or gzipped files.
    
    Overall Im not excited about any of the programs currently available, but 
    there is some hope on the horizon as I indicated.
    
    Until something better comes along Ill stick to my CoSatrack system which 
    can track on a satellite/ leap frog etc but its not ASCOM
    compatible so pretty useless to anyone else unless they build the drive 
    electronics. Some years ago I believe somebody was able to use an ASCOM 
    driver and "something else" but details lost  as that part of my brain has 
    expired.
    
    Im sure that many of us would like to know of suitable software, so if you 
    know any that may be useful please send details.
    
    If I have made mistakes in describing the above software I would appreciate 
    being corrected.
    
    Cant wait for the day when HEAVENSAT gets its satellite GOTO !
    
    Cheers
    Greg
    
    
    
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