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Innovation in Observational Astronomy

Merging Traditional With Modern Sky Observing

Star-Hop Maker provides an innovative solution for astronomical observation planning and execution as well as desktop based exploration of the night sky.

Using a new approach in planning and executing observation sessions, it attempts to make observing as fun as possible without distracting the astronomer from his purpose which is to enjoy and appreciate the night sky.

The program uses the Star-Hop Paradigm throughout to organize target lists and make a complete exploration of a specific sky area.

If you enjoy creating Star-Hops using your printed maps you can now enhance your observing experience by harnessing the power of Star-Hop Maker!
Powerful Database Search

The observer can query the program database for stars and deep-sky objects, using a multitude of criteria, and retrieve results with the desired characteristics.

For instance, if the user wants to observe only a certain type of spiral galaxies above a specific altitude and within a brightness range she can do so using an intuitive and easy to use user interface.

Results are displayed in textual, icon and photo representations.
Star-Hop Creator

Creating a Star-Hop is only a few clicks away. One can simply drag and drop stars or deep-sky objects from the Database Search window into the Star-Hop Creator window.

Alternatively, objects can be inserted from the sky-chart using the identifier tool.

The first object of the new star-hop must be selected and various filters can be applied if needed.

A special Artificial Intelligence function is provided to create the best path to follow in order to visit the objects included in the star-hop.
Star-Hop Visualization

During the process of building or running a star-hop a graph is displayed on the sky-chart using numbered circles for each object in the star-hop.

Any modifications are reflected in the sky-chart depiction instantly.

A star-hop gallery enables the user to examine all star-hops created so far.
Running A Star-Hop

The Star-Hop Runner window provides a unique way to run a Prepared or Blind Star-Hop.

It consists of a rich but friendly user interface and a multitude of functions to make exploration of the sky a breeze either next to the telescope or in the room.

Images are displayed for each step, downloaded from NASA SkyView and SDSS servers

Neigbouring objects to the current position can be filtered and displayed as a list.

New objects can be added to the star-hop run using either the neighbours list or by dragging objects from the sky-chart.

If a Blind Star-Hop is run then one can witness a star-hop expanding in real time on the sky-chart.
Saving User Observations

While running a star-hop, the user can record observations using the Observation Log window.

Using mouse drag and drop, an object can be inserted from the Star-Hop Runner window.

Then, discrete data as well as a user description can be quickly added and saved.
Star-Hop Manager

During cloudy nights the observer can review star-hops and past observations using Star-Hop Manager.

This window provides:

- Basic statistics for star-hops such as constellations covered or type of included objects.

- Images for all star-hop objects organized by star-hop or object type.

- Database search functionality to display saved observations and user notes.
Event Visualization

When planning a night under the stars it is mandatory to avoid the Moon rising in the middle of a star-hop session.

The Event Visualization window provides tools to help the observer find out the duration of darkness on any date during the year or when the Moon light blocks the stars.

Furthermore, one can be informed in real time about how much time remains for darkness to prevail or if the morning twillight is near.
Sky-Chart Interaction

The sky-chart is not a static element of the application.

The user interacts with it, in innovative ways, to obtain useful feedback in order to create star-hop lists that are more focused and that correspond to his observation needs.

There are several controls that are implemented to fulfill this special purpose.

This functionality can be used either for common star-hop tasks or just to explore a sky corner.
Download User's Guide


* NGC/IC object observing notes by Steve Gottlieb

* Revised NGC/IC catalog data copyright Dr. Wolfgang Steinicke.