Thursday, August 24, 2017

Hundreds of visual surveys in KStars!

With the KStars "Hipster" 2.8.1 release, I introduced Hierarchical Progressive Survey (HiPS) in KStars with three sample catalogs in the optical, infrared, and gamma regions of the electromagnetic spectrum.




Now users can browse from hundreds of online HiPS surveys and can enable them for overlay in KStars. Everything from radio, infrared, optical up to gamma rays is available along with a short description on each survey of interest.

Since these surveys literally take hundreds of gigabytes of storage space, they are downloaded on-demand and stored in a local cache. The disk cache is set by default to consume 1 GB while the RAM cache is set to 300 MB. These settings are now configurable from the HiPS Settings to provide users the flexibility to balance system resources with catalog usage.



By default, overlays utilize nearest neighbor algorithm to map 2D images unto the celestial sphere. Drawing of HiPS overlays can be further improved by enabling Bilinear Interpolation at the expense of increased CPU usage.

These selections shall be available in the next KStars 2.8.2 release coming up soon.



Thursday, August 17, 2017

KStars 2.8.1 "Hipster" Release is out!

It finally landed! KStars 2.8.1 aka Hipster release is out for Windows & MacOS!

The highlight for this release is experimental support for HiPS: Hierarchical Progressive Surveys. HiPS provides multi-resolution progressive surveys to be overlayed directly in client applications, such as KStars. It provides an immersive experience as you can explore the night sky dynamically.

With over 200+ surveys across the whole electromagnetic spectrum from radio, infrared, visual, to even gamma rays, the user can pan and zoom progressively deeper into the data visually.


HiPS Support in KStars

HiPS support in KStars has been made possible with collaboration with the excellent open source planetarium software SkyTechX. This truely demonstrates the power of open source to accelerate development and access to more users.

Another feature, also imported from SkyTechX, is the Polaris Hour Angle, which is useful for users looking to polar align their mount.

Polar Hour Angle

GSoC 2017 student Csaba Kert├ęsz continued to merge many code improvements. Moreover, many bugs fixes landed in this release. The following are some of the notable fixes and improvements:
  • BUGS:382721 Just use less than and greater than keys for time.
  • BUGS:357671 Patch by Robert Barlow to support custom catalogs in WUT.
  • Improved comet and asteroid position accuracy.
  • Ekos shall fallback to user defined scopes if INDI driver does not provide scope metadata.
  • Fixed command line parsing.
  • Fixed many PHD2 external guider issues.
  • Fixed selection of external guiders in Ekos Equipment Profile.
  • Fixed rotator device infinite loop.
  • Fixed scheduler shutdown behavior.
  • Fixed Ekos Mosaic Position Angle.
  • Fixed issue with resetting Polar Alignment Assistant Tool rotation state.
  • Fixed issue with Ekos Focus star selection timeout behavior.
  • Ekos always switches to CLIENT mode when taking previews.
  • Handle proper removal of devices in case of Multiple-Devices-Per-Driver drivers
  • Display INDI universal messages for proper error reporting.
  • Better logging with QLoggingCategory.

Ekos Mosaic Tool with HiPS