CCDciel is free software released under the terms of the
GNU General Public License
This tool is to control a complex sequence of exposure on one or more objects.
The top grid show the current list of targets.
You can Load an existing file with a list of target, create a New one, Edit the current list, Copy to a new list or Delete a list.
Use the Start and Stop button to start or interrupt a sequence.
When the sequence start it first check if the autoguider and camera cooling are available and try to start them if not.
The “Run unattended” check box control how the program react in case of error.
The bottom grid show you the plan for the current target.
When the sequence is running the current target and step is highlighted.
After you click New or Edit, the target editor let you modify the target list.
A target can be an object you want to take the images or a script to run in the sequence.
You can type the object name and coordinates in the corresponding box or click the Planetarium button to select the object in the connected planetarium application.
The coordinates can also be selected by plate solving the current image.
Or click the “No move” button to not change the telescope position.
Note that the target coordinates are apparent and could differ from the planetarium if the planetarium displays the position in equinox J2000 coordinates.
Select the exposure plan to apply to this target using the dropdown box, or use the New button to create a new plan, or the Edit button to change the plan. You can also copy an existing plan or delete one.
The plan are saved in separated files and can be shared by many target list. This way you not have to edit the detail of the plan every time.
If you are imaging a fast moving asteroid or comet you can check “Update RA+Dec” to ask the planetarium for the object coordinates just before the telescope is slewed to the target.
Be sure the planetarium is connected before to run the sequence.
Check the name of the object is compatible with the search function of the planetarium. No problem if you set the coordinate and name from the planetarium.
The planetarium must be set to follow the system time, otherwise the asteroid position is not updated.
Check “Use astrometry…” box to refine the telescope position with an astromery solved control exposure. In this case you are ensured the selected object is framed exactly as required.
You can check “Stay in place for autofocus” if you are sure that the center of the image field contain suitable stars for auto-focus. It is recommended to use the Dynamic focus method in this case.
If unchecked, the telescope is first moved to a focus star of the magnitude defined in the auto-focus preference, and returned to the target after the operation.
The default value for this option is also set in the auto-focus preference.
Check “Set rotator angle” to move the rotator at the specified angle.
You can type the position angle or use the current image orientation after plate solving.
Be sure the rotator is calibrated before to start the sequence if you use celestial PA.
You can set a time range for this target to be imaged, it will no be images before “Start time” or after “End time”. If “End time” is reach during exposure plan it is stopped and the next target is selected.
Click “rise” or “set” to automatically use the rise or set time of the object above the limits you define in the Observatory configuration, for the date of the observation.
To not use this function click the “Any time” button.
You can also define when the whole sequence start and stop.
Check the box “Start at” or “Stop at” and enter the time you want.
Check “dusk” or “dawn” to adjust the time for the astronomical twilight for the date of the observation.
You can set this target to repeat it's whole plan for a number of time at a given interval between two consecutive start.
Set the number of repetition and the interval. If the interval is smaller than the total plan duration the next repetition start immediately.
You can also start a preview loop while waiting for the next repetition, this is useful to keep the Sun or Moon centered if you do an eclipse sequence.
To add a script you just have to select the one you want from the list, or create a new script here.
To add an automated flat click the Sky flat button.
Note: to take a dome/panel flat set a standard “No move” target and use a plan with an image type = Flat.
Set if you want the flat series to be taken at dusk or at dawn, this change the position in the list.
Select the number of flat to take for each filter, the binning and finally check the filters to use.
The automatic exposure time must be configured in the flat preferences.
To better manage the changing sky luminosity the filter are selected from the darker to the lighter at dusk, from the lighter to the darker at dawn. This require you configure the filter exposure factor.
When you add a sky flat to the plan this disable the “Start at dusk” and “Stop at dawn” global options. Do not re-enable them otherwise the sequence will not run during the twilight and the flat are bypassed.
For the same reason you must be careful the sky flat remain in first or last position in the list. The only acceptable steps before or after them are script to manage the equipment because they will run in full daylight.
You can also repeat the whole list a number of time by checking the box at the bottom of the list.
There is no option for the interval here, the repetition is immediate. But you can add scripts in the sequence to delay the execution in a more flexible way.
You can add a new target, script, flat or delete one with the four buttons at the bottom of the list.
You can change the target order with a mouse drag/drop on the first column of the list.
The target list is saved when you click the Save button. If this is a new one you are asked for a file name.
Use the plan editor to specify the exposure steps to take of a target.
Give a description of the step that can be used to make a subfolder.
Set the type of frame, exposure time, gain, binning, number of exposure, as in the Capture tool.
Set the filter to use as in the Filters tool.
Check corresponding box if you want to run an auto-focus at the start of this step.
For long steps you can also repeat the auto-focus after a given number of images.
You can repeat the same step at a specified interval. Set the number of repetition and the interval.
If the interval is smaller than the step duration the repetition is immediate.
You can add a new step or delete one with the two button at the bottom of the list.
You can change the steps order with a mouse drag/drop on the first column of the list.
The plan is saved when you click the Save button.