Enhanced OnStep Calculations Spreadsheet



OnStep is a full featured telescope controller firmware that was created and maintained by Howard Dutton.

As of late 2021, it runs on several types of boards with a variety of microcontrollers, including the Teensy, ST's STM32F103, STM32F303, STM32F446 and Esspressif's ESP32.

In order to convert a mount to OnStep, one needs to fill out a spreadsheet created by Howard that accounts for various parameters, such as one or two stages of gear reduction, microstepping, an motor shaft RPM.

FYSETC S6 3D Printer Board for OnStep Telescope Controller


I have been using the FYSETC S6 V1.2 3D printer board as my telescope controller for a few months.

Here are a few videos that demonstrate the board and what it can do:

FYSETC S6 version 1.2 basic setup, with only the RA and DEC axes connected, as well as a WeMos D1 Mini WiFi adapter. Demonstrated with the KStars planetarium.

African Countries Mistake Venus For Eid Al Fitr 2020 Crescent


The new moon for the month of Shawwal 1441 AH has only been sighted in several countries in Africa.

For example, Mauritania claimed that declaring the end of Ramadan, and the start of Eid Al Fitr was based on multiple confirmed sighting, also claiming that the number of witnesses exceeds 40 people, in various places in the country.

The same thing happened in Senegal, Mali, Cote d'Ivoire, Niger, and Somalia.

Ramadan 2020: When Can the Moon Be Sighted?


Just like Ramadan 2019 Moon Sighting was fraught with false claims of sighting the crescent, which the courts in Saudi Arabia took at face value without basic confirmation against astronomy.

It seems that Ramadan 2020 is also set to suffer from the same faults.

If you look at this screen capture from Stellarium, a free astronomical planetarium program, you will see sunset on Wednesday the 22nd of April 2020, near Kitchener, Ontario, Canada.

Time Lapse of Comet C/2018 N2 (ASSASN)



Here is a time lapse sequence of Comet C/2018 N2 (ASSASN).

This comet was discovered by the All-Sky Automated Survey For Supernovae (ASSASN) using software to analyze the images from one night to the next, and detect anything that is not a star.

The sequence was made on October 8th, 2019, between 1:35 am and 2:11 am while the comet was near the Triangulum constellation, and the M33 galaxy.

Python API For OnStep and other LX200 Protocol Telescope Controllers



Today, I released my OnStep Python API on Github. This API allows commands to be issued from any Python 3.x program to an OnStep controlled telescope.

This allows a lot of use cases, for example, testing certain scenarios, or automating certain tasks.

Several examples are provided as starting points on how to write your own programs.

Patches for features, and fixes are welcome.

Moon Sighting Is Obsolete: Lunar Month Starts Should Be By Astronomical Conjunction


For this year's Eid Al-Fitr 1440 A.H. (2019 C.E.), the Muslim world had some countries, as well as some masjids in the West, ending the Ramadan fast on Tuesday. In Kitchener/Waterloo, we had the Kitchener mosque, following astronomical calculations, end the fast on Monday, while the Waterloo Masjid, following sighting, ended it on Tuesday.

Seeing the Unseeable

The problem here is that it was astronomically impossible to sight the new moon on Monday, since it is not illuminated at all.

ETL-Astro: An Extract/Transform/Load Framework for Astronomical Catalogs



Yesterday, I released ETL-Astro, a set of Python programs that generate astronomical catalogs in a variety of formats from license friendly data source, allowing for incorporation in GPL-licensed products.

The programs can do the following:


Subscribe to RSS - Astronomy