Quick Tip #3: [Telescope Simulator]

Following on from the previous Quick Tip on N.I.N.As Manual rotator.

What if you want to make use of plate solving and the manual rotator but you don’t have a GOTO mount? What’s to be done for us owners of SkyGuider Pro’s and Star Adventurers ?

Well obviously with no GOTO, you will have to manually move the mount to the correct RA/DEC coordinates by taking a series of images, plate-solving and adjusting RA/DEC

However, once you are close enough, it would be great to make use of the manual rotator. N.I.N.A though will ONLY use the rotator if you have “Center Target” enabled in your sequence.

“Center Target” can (currently) only be enabled when “Slew to target” is enabled. Slew to target needs a connected scope and the trackers don’t support ASCOM etc. This is frustrating as it makes multi-night projects even harder than they already are for us star tracker owners.

There is a solution though. In fact a few takes on the same solution. There exist “Telescope simulators” These allow N.I.N.A to connect to a virtual telescope and issue slew commands. The virtual scope will then report back to N.I.N.A that it has done so, thus enabling you to then use “Center Target” to use the rotator

This is pretty easy to setup. Simply go to the Equipment | Telescope section and pick a virtual telescope from the dropdown, then “Connect” it as you would a regular mount/scope

Three sources of free virtual scopes I am aware of

  • Telescope Simulator for .NET. This comes as part of the ASCOM download
  • “Telescope Simulator” – this is installed in my N.I.N.A I believe also as part of ASCOM (although it is a different simulator)
  • Green Swamp Server

I think all three of these will do the job. The Green Swamp server has (for me) the nicest dashboard and will show a 3D view of where your mount is pointed but I don’t really use that

You can see here, I am connected to the Green Swamp scope

Once connected, you can go to the Framing wizard, load up a target and if you have the dashboard for your Simulator on-screen, hit “slew” (in N.I.N.A) and watch the scope pretend to slew to target.

Once this is working, you can enable “Center target” in your Sequence and use the manual rotator. Of course, you should MANUALLY slew to your target first since the scope wont actually move.

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