Last updated: 19 May 2004
This page is for user comments on Astronomy software for the PC, Macintosh, or Palm OS systems. Items that are more "review" oriented will be posted on the Astronomy Software Reviews page. If you have any comments, suggestions, questions or answers to questions posed here, e-mail them to me and I'll post them. Please use an appropriate Subject Line on your message. Thanks.

Subject:	Keith's Image Stacker
Sent:	Monday, May 17, 2004 18:40:57
From:	F&M Goodman (
Just  a note to let you know(you probably know already) that Keith's
Image Stacker and the websit are MIA. Any thoughts on Stacker software
for OSX. As Murphy's law would have it, I just got a G4 and the
software, of your choice, is not to be found. I downloaded a program
called ILAF but it doesn't open correctly.  I will contact the forum and
fill you in later.

Have you been able to view comets NEAT or LINEAR? No luck here as the
Rockies are blocking my view here in Colorado Springs. Clear,
unobstructed skies to you. 
Mike here: Didn't know that but just confirmed it. I've emailed the developer; hopefully it is just temporary.
Have seen NEAT a couple of times; just a fuzzy patch from my backyard.


It must be NEAT to be able to see the comet(kidding). We will be telling
TAILS of both comets to friends and relatives. After I get my scope's
optics re-aligned, I will send some results of stacked videos. Thanks
And from the developer:
From:	Keith Wiley (
It's a homepage on the university's primary webserver. I can't control
it of course. Seems to work the vast majority of the time. Give it
another shot.

Subject:	Re: Meade software (Autostar, Pictorview) with Mac
Sent:	Thursday, May 6, 2004 11:34:19
From:	Alan Hale (
Your insights have really helped. For the first time since I acquired
this newer Mac, I was able to make a solid connection to the Pictor CCD
using PictorView, and last night I was able to take my first images with
this machine.

The key was installing the driver for the Keyspan Serial/USB adaptor on
the Mac side, and setting this connection to go through Comm Port 1 in
Virtual PC. I had already installed the Keyspan adaptor on the Windows
side, and PictorView was attempting to establish the connection through
Comm Port 3 (and nothing I could do seemed to change that), and this was
the connection that would only temporarily stay up before dropping off.
After installing the driver on the Mac side and setting the connection
through Comm 1 on both the Virtual PC side and in PictorView, the
connection worked fine.

I took about two dozen images last night (nothing scientific, just
experimenting). One problem that cropped up was that occasionally the
image download from the camera would stop, and then would abort with the
message "error in download" (or some such). I just talked to Scott
Roberts about it, and he suggests it may be a timeout problem --
possibly fixable on the Mac side (although that's just speculation on
his part).

On the other hand, one major problem I was having with PictorView (an
older version) on my older machine did *not* occur last night. Every
once in a while the exposure timer, instead of ending the exposure and
starting the download, would start repeating, and essentially go into an
infinite loop. The only way to clear things would be to abort the
exposure, disconnect the camera, close PictorView, and re-boot Windows.
When my motherboard started going bad on me last year it got to the
point where I was having to re-boot after *every* exposure. *Very*
frustrating problem, and I yelled my share of obscenities at the machine
. . .   In any event, whether it be the newer, faster machine, or an
improved version of PictorView, or some combination thereof, it appears
(from last night's experiences anyway) that I might not have to deal
with this problem anymore, and if I had to make a choice I'd much rather
deal with the download timeout problem I encountered last night than
with this exposure timer problem any day.

I haven't tried anything with the LPI imager, or telescope control, yet,
since my priority was getting PictorView running. I'll try to come to
those things in a while and see what happens.

Thanks again for your assistance and your insight. You provided the key
ingredient I was missing in getting this whole thing going . . .


Mike here: Thanks! That's good news. As to timeouts, yeah, could be, especially on a slower machine, and especially if there are other processes running.
Subject:	Meade software (Autostar, Pictorview) with Mac
Sent:	Tuesday, May 4, 2004 14:00:09
From:	Alan Hale
Scott Roberts at Meade has given me your name as someone who has been
successful in utilizing Meade's software (primarily Autostar) with a
Mac. I'm running into some rather big problems getting things to work on
my system, and i was wondering (and hoping) if you could offer some

I used to have a Mac Powerbook G3 (1997 version), MacOS 8.5, utilizing
an old version of VirtualPC (version 2.something, if I remember
correctly) emulating Windows 95. I was able to get Pictorview running on
that system without two much trouble (although a colleague of mine had
to fashion a special adaptor), and for the next few years I was able to
take some relatively decent images with the Pictor 416XTE CCD (see for sample images I've taken).

That computer, unfortunately, died on me late last year, and I've now
upgraded to a new Mac iBook, MacOS 10.2.4. I have VirtualPC versionn 6.1
installed, emulating Windows XP Professional. (The response is rather
slow, though.) The Mac has no serial ports, just USB ports, and I have a
Keyspan USB-Serial adaptor.

For the life of me I can't get the Meade software to work with this new
system. Pictorview has been impossible to get going (whether it's the
standalone version I've downloaded from Meade, or the version contained
within Autostar). At best I've been able to connect through comm port 3
(the USB port through the Windows device manager) at 57.6K, however the
CCD box soon reads "Topped at 9600" and the Meade software just freezes.
Also, if I then try to examine the user settings in Pictorview, it
doesn't even register a "Comm 3" port, just comm1, comm 2, and "none."
To get it to even attempt through the comm 3 USB port I have to end the
program and then call it up again.

I've also tried connecting to the LPI imager through autostar. While I'm
getting "something" to the software -- apparently from the camera -- all
I'm getting is garbage. Just as an experiment, I tried imaging through
the scope (LX-200 8-inch) and the results were the same regardless of
whether I was trying to image a distant object (in this case, trees on a
distant hill) or if I had the light path closed (essentially, taking a
dark frame).

I suspect the problem(s) lie somewhere with the VirtualPC/Windows
interface. I've tried fiddling with the settings in Virtual PC, i.e.,
making sure the USB port is enabled, etc., and I've even tried to
connect through comm port 1 -- although there is no "non-modem device"
field with this new system as there was in the older machine I had.

Any help or enlightenment you can offer will be greatly appreciated.
This has stumped me for some time, and I'd really like to get the system
up and running so I can resume my research and educational programs.


Alan Hale (the Hale in Hale-Bopp, if that means anything)
Cloudcroft, New Mexico
Mike here: Hi Alan. (and yes, I know "of" you!) (I also know of "Cloudcroft" since I spend three years in Alamogordo while in the Air Force back in the late 1970s. I even spent one night at the observatory there.)
Anyway, I have been successful using the Autostar Suite, the Autostar software, and the LPI on my Powerbook 17" with 10.3.x, the Keyspan adapter, and VPC 6.1. You can read about my setups in my article "Autostar Suite on a Macintosh" on my ETX Site:
I can't speak about the Pictorview but I have noted timeouts in serial devices going through the USB. I beta tested lots of Autostar control software and getting those timeouts resolved with the Autostar took some effort on the part of the programmers (and this was native Mac software). But with VPC and the Autostar Suite, I've been successful with the LPI. One thing I do note in the article is that you need to have processor performance set to the highest; you really need the horsepower for VPC when imaging.


Dear Mike,

Thanks for getting back to me! I've downloaded your article and will be
going through it carefully, testing things as I go along. (Even when
doing so I noticed a couple of things I hadn't tried). I'll let you know
how things go, and I have a sneaking suspicion that the answer to the
difficulties I'm having with Pictorview lie within your article, even if
not directly addressed.



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