Autostar tours work with Meade's Autostar #497 and Autostar II & III controllers. The tours can be uploaded using Meade's Autostar Updater (ASU) software. You will need the required cable, the same one that is used to upgrade the software of either an Autostar #497 or II controller. They are widely available from telescope vendors. Autostar III controlled telescopes have a USB connection.
When it comes to using tours the biggest advantage of Autostar is the ability to upload the files to the controller. After the upload a computer connection is not required to use the tours.
Autostar controllers have a large database containing many objects. The complete NGC and IC catalogues and many named stars are included. These database objects can be used in Autostar tours. CSOG utilizes this possibility. However, quite a few objects in CSOG are not part of the Autostar database and are therefor added as user objects. Mixing Autostar database and user objects in tours causes a difference in the object coordinates' epoch. Database objects use the epoch of the Autostar controller. It is unknown what exactly this "JAutostar" is. When user objects in epoch J2000.0 are added, this is cause for a coordinate inconsistency. User objects will be off by a little, compared to the objects in the controller's database.
To work with this known issue three different types of Autostar tours are included in CSOG:
- Database + epoch J2000.0, with a database synchronization star.
Using these tours causes GOTO's to user objects to be slightly off compared to GOTO's to database objects.
- Database + epoch J2012.5, with a database synchronization star.
These tours provide better GOTO's to user objects. Please note that the coordinates displayed in the observing guides are J2000.0 and therefor do not match the exact coordinates of the J2012.5 user objects in these tours.
- All epoch J2000.0, with a J2000.0 synchronization star.
Using these tours the problem of the coordinate mix-up is avoided. However, due to these tours being "all J2000.0" the synchronization star at the start of the tour will be slightly off compared to Autostar database GOTO's to the same star and/or GOTO's after initial telescope alignment.
Use of the All J2000.0 Tours is recommended. Regardless, do not hesitate to use Autostar's synchronization feature to improve your GOTO accuracy.
NexRemote allows tours to be used with Celestron NexStar controlled telescopes. It is a Windows PC application. A suitable cable is required to link the NexStar controller to a computer. The tourfiles can be opened in NexRemote when placed in the application's "Tours" folder.
The application converts text to speech. Using a gaming controller, such as a Logitech Cordless Rumplepad the telescope can be controlled wirelessly. This allows control of the telescope without actually having to view a laptop screen.
Like the Autostar and EQTours all NexTours start with a synchronization star to use with the virtual controller's Sync feature. With an object selected, it's coordinates, object category and constellation are displayed when pressing the "INFO" button.
All object coordinates in the NexTours are epoch J2000.0.
Many telescopes can be controlled via EQMOD. It is a Windows PC application. A suitable cable is required to link your telescope to a computer. For example, this cable allows you to connect a SynScan controlled telescope.
A feature of EQMOD is EQTours. The tourfiles can be opened when placed in the "EQMOD - EQTOUR" folder. Like the Autostar and NexTours every EQTour starts with a synchronization star.
All object coordinates in the EQTours are epoch J2000.0.
CSOG Tours are available for the abovementioned controllers and software. More may be added in the future for different types of controllers. Please contact me if you know of a controller or telescope control system that allows for use of tours or similar object list. Please do keep in mind that many, if not most CSOG tours contain objects that are not part of the standard database of many controllers and applications. A "user object" option must be present.
AstroPlanner is an unsurpassed astronomical planning, logging and telescope controlling application. AstroPlanner planfiles (.apd) as included in CSOG are cross-platform, working on both Windows and Mac. In fact, every file and feature of the application is.
Like the tours, the planfiles match the observing guides. One of the endless features of AstroPlanner is to easily determine what the best time to observe specific objects is. Using the planfiles in combination with the observing guides makes planning of observing sessions easier than ever before. Because of CSOG you know what to observe and thanks to AstroPlanner you know when to observe it. In addition, AstroPlanner is an unbeatable platform for logging of your observations. Make sure you check the field of view tab, too!
The above are just a few of the many, many features AstroPlanner offers. The basis application is free, but registration is not expensive. The developer's customer service is second to none. AstroPlanner planfiles are a very useful addition to CSOG.
The planfiles contain columns named "Guide", "Sort" and "Nr.". Use of these columns to sort the planfiles ensures the object order is identical to the order of the objects in the matching observing guides and tours.