Meade AstroFinder software

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Meade AstroFinder software

Postby Phil12345 » Sun Jul 03, 2016 4:12 pm

Hi,
I have been trying to find the Meade AstroFinder software but understand it is no longer available.
My telescope is an ETX-105EC and use the #497 Autostar controller, which I have successfully updated.
I haven't used the scope for around 8 years and am still a beginner, so thought the AstroFinder would be useful.
Does anyone know where I can obtain this or if there are any alternative software programmes available?
Any help will be gratefully received!!
Phil
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Re: Meade AstroFinder software

Postby Gfamily2 » Sun Jul 03, 2016 5:17 pm

Hi Phil
As far as I can tell, AstroFinder is basically a planetarium software that will display star charts on your PC, is that right?

As an alternative, Stellarium is highly regarded - there's a free version for PCs, and a very low cost version for Android, Apple and Windows Smartphones - well worth having.
Scopes: Meade 8" SCT, Skywatcher 127mm Mak, Raffle winner of SW ST80
For imaging: Pentax K5, Asda webcam, Star Adventurer (new toy)
For companionship: Mid Cheshire Astronomical Group.
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Re: Meade AstroFinder software

Postby Aratus » Mon Jul 04, 2016 8:58 am

Meade's 'Astrofinder' is similar to Celestron's NexRemote. It provides a digital representation of the sky and the option to control the telescope from the computer. The software is still available from some on-line shops, and I notice that Amazon is selling a copy. In my opinion these kinds of software are just another thing to set up, and another thing to crash! Having said that, once set up, it does make selecting an object very easy, and of course the number of objects is much greater. Updating the object list is much easier, and it is possible to track unusual objects like the ISS, satellites and near-earth asteroids. Any planetarium software which uses 'ASCOM' can control a goto telescope. I think that includes 'Stellarium', but I've never used it myself. Free software is always worth a go!
I use an 11" Celestron SCT (CPC 1100) on an equatorial wedge, housed in a 2.2m Pulsar observatory. I use a ZWO ASI1600MC and Canon 500D for imaging.
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Re: Meade AstroFinder software

Postby Gfamily2 » Mon Jul 04, 2016 6:52 pm

Aratus wrote: Any planetarium software which uses 'ASCOM' can control a goto telescope. I think that includes 'Stellarium', but I've never used it myself. Free software is always worth a go!

Stellarium certainly can, and the computer control works very well if you have the correct cables. My one piece of advice would be to check that the scope is aligned to the stars before you connect it to the computer because otherwise the computer can try to make the scope move outside its design capabilities.
Scopes: Meade 8" SCT, Skywatcher 127mm Mak, Raffle winner of SW ST80
For imaging: Pentax K5, Asda webcam, Star Adventurer (new toy)
For companionship: Mid Cheshire Astronomical Group.
(Not a moderator)
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Re: Meade AstroFinder software

Postby Phil12345 » Mon Jul 04, 2016 7:19 pm

Many thanks to all of you and for your replies, the information is very helpful and |I will be looking at installing the software suggested.
Thanks again everyone.
Phil12345
 
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Re: Meade AstroFinder software

Postby Aratus » Mon Jul 04, 2016 8:02 pm

Gfamily2 wrote:
Stellarium certainly can, and the computer control works very well if you have the correct cables. My one piece of advice would be to check that the scope is aligned to the stars before you connect it to the computer because otherwise the computer can try to make the scope move outside its design capabilities.


It might also be worth mentioning that the cables tend to terminate in a 9 pin serial port. Unless a laptop is pretty ancient it will not have a serial port, so a serial/USB adapter is also required.

I have got this system working on Starry Night, but in most cases it is a bit of a Heath-Robinson way of doing the same thing as the handset. It could be useful for tracking objects not in the handset database, especially fast moving NEAs or something like the ISS.
I use an 11" Celestron SCT (CPC 1100) on an equatorial wedge, housed in a 2.2m Pulsar observatory. I use a ZWO ASI1600MC and Canon 500D for imaging.
Aratus
 
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Joined: Tue Jan 12, 2016 2:17 pm
Location: East Lincolnshire

Re: Meade AstroFinder software

Postby Gfamily2 » Mon Jul 04, 2016 8:21 pm

Aratus wrote:
Gfamily2 wrote:
Stellarium certainly can, and the computer control works very well if you have the correct cables. My one piece of advice would be to check that the scope is aligned to the stars before you connect it to the computer because otherwise the computer can try to make the scope move outside its design capabilities.


It might also be worth mentioning that the cables tend to terminate in a 9 pin serial port. Unless a laptop is pretty ancient it will not have a serial port, so a serial/USB adapter is also required.

I have got this system working on Starry Night, but in most cases it is a bit of a Heath-Robinson way of doing the same thing as the handset. It could be useful for tracking objects not in the handset database, especially fast moving NEAs or something like the ISS.

Although I generally use the handset, there are certain advantages to using something like Stellarium - firstly, you can see what other possible targets are close to your current position, and for finding stars it really is a LOT simpler to be able to click on the screen rather than scrolling through a long alphabetical list - if your handset has 30,000 objects included, it can add up to lots of scrolling, whereas Ctrl+F on a PC program is far quicker.
As for which program to use - I've tried
Meade AutoStar Suite http://www.meade.com/support/downloads.html,
Cartes du Ciel http://www.ap-i.net/skychart/en/start
and Stellarium http://stellarium.org/
My personal recommendation would be to try Stellarium first, it's very useable.
Scopes: Meade 8" SCT, Skywatcher 127mm Mak, Raffle winner of SW ST80
For imaging: Pentax K5, Asda webcam, Star Adventurer (new toy)
For companionship: Mid Cheshire Astronomical Group.
(Not a moderator)
Gfamily2
 
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Re: Meade AstroFinder software

Postby Aratus » Tue Jul 05, 2016 9:05 am

I think you have hit the nail on the head. A lot of it is to do with preparation for observing. Not having this sort of technology when I started, I got into the habit of using books and paper star atlas to prepare a list of objects I want to view before I go out. So, if there are nearby objects, I already know about them. Messier and NGC objects are selected by typing in the number rather than scrolling, so that takes care of most objects with a few handset key presses. These computer programs do favour 'on the hoof' observing, and do give a good representation of what is available and where. It is good fun using it. I can see the attraction of using it. However, for me it is yet more setting up time, and having had the system crash occasionally, (the whole system then requires re-alignment.) it doesn't seem so beneficial. As I have said, I would use it for NEAs, and if for some reason I required remote access, (when I'm too old to go out in the cold!) but otherwise the cable stays in the draw and I use the saved time for observing. It is good to have the option either way.
I use an 11" Celestron SCT (CPC 1100) on an equatorial wedge, housed in a 2.2m Pulsar observatory. I use a ZWO ASI1600MC and Canon 500D for imaging.
Aratus
 
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Joined: Tue Jan 12, 2016 2:17 pm
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Re: Meade AstroFinder software

Postby Phil12345 » Sat Jul 09, 2016 5:15 pm

Thanks to everyone for your replies, all very helpful.
I run Windows10 and Stellarium says it will not operate on this, so I've been looking at SkyORB for W10 and wondered if anyone has tried this and if it is any good in comparison to Stellarium.
Thanks
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Re: Meade AstroFinder software

Postby Gfamily2 » Sat Jul 09, 2016 8:18 pm

Phil12345 wrote:Thanks to everyone for your replies, all very helpful.
I run Windows10 and Stellarium says it will not operate on this, so I've been looking at SkyORB for W10 and wondered if anyone has tried this and if it is any good in comparison to Stellarium.
Thanks

That's unexpected, there really shouldn't be a problem with Stellarium on Win 10.
What message do you get?
Scopes: Meade 8" SCT, Skywatcher 127mm Mak, Raffle winner of SW ST80
For imaging: Pentax K5, Asda webcam, Star Adventurer (new toy)
For companionship: Mid Cheshire Astronomical Group.
(Not a moderator)
Gfamily2
 
Posts: 470
Joined: Thu Jun 25, 2015 10:38 pm

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