Exoplanets, variable stars, SkySafari, and more

M 67 – exoplanets and variable stars

Today we released Observatory 1.3, and we are pretty excited about that. Discover the hidden gems in your images!

Above you see a cropped image of open cluster M 67 that was captured several years ago. We unearthed it when we clicked on the Exoplanets Smart Album in one of our Observatory libraries. Turns out it captured five stars with confirmed planets! Observatory now can display overlays for variable stars and systems with confirmed planets. And of course it tags images with these objects. This is a great opportunity for going back through your old images for photometric measurements.

In addition to the catalog of confirmed exoplanets and variable star catalog GCVS 5.1, Observatory 1.3 also adds catalogs for double stars and planetary nebulae. For images in your libraries that have already been matched, you can add tags for these objects with the “Update Tags” command, accessible by holding down the option () key while opening the Image menu.

Another exciting enhancement in this release is the integration with SkySafari. If you have SkySafari 6.1 or later on your macOS system, you really ought to turn on this feature in Observatory’s General Preferences. It will enable the “Show Sky Chart” command for matched images. Choose it, and Observatory will open SkySafari, point its sky chart to the center location of your image, all while adjusting its field of view. It’s a great way to see what else might be interesting in the image’s neighborhood, and you can also use it to quickly get some background information of the objects in your image.

We also further enhanced Observatory’s photometry feature, and added a “Show Console” command so you can more easily save the measurements. We made the timeout for the blind plate solver configurable, tweaked things here and there and of course fixed a few bugs.

Lastly, we added a reminder to rate Observatory on the Mac App Store. Please rate it or leave a review, regardless the country you live in. It will make Observatory more visible on the Mac App Store, which helps us with sales, and that you see back in the form of enhancements to Observatory.

For more details, please see the release notes.

Blind Plate Solving with Observatory 1.2.3

We’ve just released another great update to Observatory. This time we have integrated the services provided by astrometry.net to bring blind plate solving to Observatory. Choose the new Blind Match command to plate solve your images without providing an estimate of the image center and scale.

I think plate solving cannot be much easier than this:



Note that since blind plate solving uses an internet service, its performance varies widely, taking anywhere from a few seconds to several minutes per image. Time compression was used for parts of the video above.

In addition to the new blind plate solver, we have enhanced the photometry inspector with error estimates. We have improved the way it automatically populates the magnitude field of the comparison star, and automatically sets its estimated error based on the catalog used.

See the release notes for the complete list of changes and bug fixes.

Enjoy!

Observatory 1.2.2

Today we released Observatory 1.2.2. It is a small maintenance release that resolves a crash which could occur immediately after choosing the Import Images command. Already imported images are now once again disabled in this sheet on macOS High Sierra.

Work is underway on a much larger maintenance release, but we figured this crash takes priority.

Release notes here.

Better Plate Solving with Observatory 1.2.1

Pacman Nebula (image by Andrew Burwell)

Check the Mac App Store, because we’ve just released an update to Observatory.

It resolves various bugs that conspired against the plate solver and align adjustment.

There’s a new Automatic Detection Sensitivity setting for the plate solver, and when it fails to find a solution, it now has a handy “Retry” button to quickly retry it with adjusted settings. It also displays more helpful information and a link to the relevant section in the documentation.

Also new is the “Forums” command in the Help menu for quick access to our recently launched Code Obsession Forums. And it fixes a few macOS High Sierra specific issues.

Oh and we made this tumultuous world a little bit safer by securing our website with HTTPS.

For the full set of release notes, head here.

Enjoy!