Patreon Campaign is now active!

Today I am going to start my Patreon Campaign.

I love working on this project with all my heart, but maintaining it is becoming increasingly difficult. With the help of backers however, I can keep the project alive and healthy and also invest even more time and resources into it.
So – If N.I.N.A. helps you in your journey for amazing deep sky images, please consider becoming a patron. Each backer will help!
Additionally you will get access to special discord roles and a special discord channel starting from the Globular Cluster tier!

For more information please go to: https://www.patreon.com/stefanberg?fan_landing=true

Thank you all for your support!

It’s Beta time!

A lot was going on since Version 1.9 was released and it has only been out for 8 months.
The project has grown further and more and more users have joined the community, which is fantastic!

Additionally during the work for Version 1.10 more people had interest in directly contributing to the project and have worked hard on providing new features, fixes, support and also a lot of different translations for N.I.N.A.
A big thank you to everyone who is helping me on this project!

The list of changes are massive, and the change log will get a revamp to better show how much has changed (and I can tell you, it was a lot of change).
At the current state the Nightly Version was already used by a lot of users and it works very well. The current set of worked on features are done and therefore it is now a good time to transition 1.10 to the beta phase, for crushing all the bugs that might have slipped in for the amazing new features the application has. If you find something that is not working properly, please let us know!

I wish you all clear skies and happy imaging!

N.I.N.A. meets Crowdin

Due to the recent increase in people wanting to help and contribute in localizing N.I.N.A. I have looked into a bunch options to make the process much simpler. Therefore I have created a project inside a translation management software called Crowdin where people can easily add new translations for labels without having to know how to code.
You can easily and quickly add new proposals for one or multiple labels now and they will be automatically synced into our project repository once approved.

The localization project can be found at: https://nina.crowdin.com/

For a quick start, refer to our documentation at: https://nighttime-imaging.eu/docs/develop/site/contributing/localization/

In case the language you want to contribute to isn’t listed yet, please reach out to me (via mail or via discord) and I will add the specific language to the list.

Thank you all in advance for your contributions and happy translating!
And also a big thank you to the Crowdin Project by supporting FOSS with their special license!

1.9 is finalized and ready to download

Today a new release version is available. A lot of work has went into building this release in the last half year and the improvements are massive.
There are a bunch of new equipment types available and a lot of bugs were crushed and existing features further improved.
A complete list of changes can be found below.

Do you like the work that has been done and want to further support my project? Then please consider a donation, participate in the community by helping other users or even contributing to the project directly!

Features

Camera Control

  • Native support for Finger Lakes Instrumentation ProLine/MicroLine cameras and color filter wheels

Switch Hubs

  • A new equipment type "Switch" has been added which can connect to an AscomSwitch or to a PrimaLuceLab EAGLE PC

Dither without guiding

  • A new Direct Guider has been added, which doesn’t require a guide camera. It can only perform random dithers. It connects directly to the telescope, and will if required perform a dither via a Pulse Guide of a user-provided duration in a random direction.
  • Enhanced direct guider will accept decimal durations (e.g. 0.5s), and perform random angle selection in a way that minimizes target deviation from center, even after many dither operations.

Plate Solving

  • Added interface for ASTAP, the Astrometric STAcking Program, astrometric solver and FITS viewer as a plate solver
  • Mid-sequence plate solve operations (when slewing to target, or after Meridian Flip) have been enhanced to have the following behavior:
    • If plate solve fails, it automatically falls back to blind failover
    • If blind failover also fails, plate solve can be set to await a certain time period (by default 10 minutes) before trying again, up to a certain number of attempts (user-defined)
    • If all attempts fail, or Meridian is getting close, plate solve will be considered failed, but sequence will continue as usual
  • Added options to adjust downsample factor and maximum number of considered stars for ASTAP and local astrometry.net solvers

GPS Assisted Location

  • Added a NMEA GPS interface to retrieve the current location

Interfacing with planetarium programs

  • NINA can interface with Cartes du Ciel, HNSKY, Stellarium, and TheSkyX through their repsective TCP services to import the selected object for use in the Sequence Editor and Framing Assistant, as well as setting the observing location to match that which is set in those programs

Manual Camera

  • Inside the camera selection there is a new entry for "Manual Camera".
  • This simulated camera will enable the use of cameras which lack an SDK, while still using the whole N.I.N.A. workflow.
  • It will watch a specified folder for newly created files. These files will be stored inside an internal queue.
  • Each time the application wants to download an exposure from the camera, the first item of this file queue is resolved and loaded into N.I.N.A.
  • Additionally a manual Bulb Mode trigger can be activated, so it will use the selected Bulb Mode in Settings->Equipment->Camera on Exposure Start.
  • When this trigger is deactivated the application will just skip the Start Exposure and wait for another file to roll into the specified folder

Weather data sources

  • The existing OpenWeatherMap implementation has been replaced with a full weather data interface.
  • The new interface allows devices with ASCOM ObservingConditions class drivers to supply N.I.N.A. with weather data and other conditions.
  • Native OpenWeatherMap functionality is maintained, and any configured OWM API key is retained and utilized by the new native OWM client.
  • Weather data sources are now configured under the Equipment section.
  • Any available weather data types (air temperature, pressure, wind speed, etc.) are inserted into images as FITS keywords and/or XISF image properties.

Focusing

  • Quick focuser movement buttons have been added (fine/coarse move IN/OUT) to the focuser views
  • A new focuser settle time parameter has been added, in case the focuser shifts the image when moving (SCT, lens belt focusing, etc.). This should help with auto-focus in particular.
  • Focuser backlash (in and out) can now be specified. The backlash will be applied to focuser movements whenever the focuser reverses directions.
  • A new Measure Backlash tool has been added in the Auto-Focus view in the imaging tab. When launched, NINA will automatically measure focuser backlash IN and OUT.
  • Sequence Auto-Focus can now be triggered if measured HFR of any frame is X% worse than the first frame taken after the previous auto-focus routine.
  • More resilient autofocus:
    • Ability to automatically reattempt autofocus from scratch several times in case it failed
    • Automatically go back to original focus position if obtained HFR is significantly worse than original
    • Ability to take multiple autofocus exposures per focus point and average their HFR. This leads to smoother autofocus curves.
    • A crop ratio has been added to the autofocus, letting users autofocus only on the center of the frame
    • Autofocus can now be set to use only the top brightest stars, so the same stars are used throughout the autofocus routine. This will work best on sparse star fields, and for stable, well-aligned equipment (e.g. so stars don’t move between auto-focus exposures)
    • Ability to use binning for autofocus

Sequencing

  • End of Sequence Options are now available, which include:
    • Parking the telescope – This will stop the guiding, and invoke the mount Park method if available, otherwise the mount will slew to near the celestial pole (on the same side of Meridian it last was) and stop tracking. Before using this in production, test out the feature at the telescope, with your finger on the power switch. This is to avoid any crash into the pier for mounts that do not have limits.
    • Warming the camera – the camera will be slowly cooled, with the cooler eventually turned off
  • A pre-sequence check is now triggered, and will notify end users of a variety of potential issues (camera not cooled yet, guider not connected, telescope not connected but slew enabled, etc.) at sequence start
  • It is now possible to reset the progress of a sequence item, or of a whole sequence target. If an item that occurred prior to the active sequence item is reset, stopping and starting the sequence will get back to it, but pausing/playing will keep going from the current item.
  • The sequence start button is unavailable if an imaging loop is in progress in the imaging tab
  • If telescope is capable of reporting SideOfPier there will now be a new option to consider this for calculating the need for meridian flips
  • It is now possible to set the Offset in addition to the Gain within each sequence item
  • Added buttons to move sequence row up and down the list

Flat Wizard

  • Progress bars have been added for remaining filters and exposures
  • A new Slew to Zenith button has been added for easier flats. This includes an option for east or west pier side, depending on which side of pier the mount should approach zenith from.
  • A new option to pause between filters has been added. This is to allow the user the chance to set lightbox settings

Interface

  • Imaging tab – Equipment specific views will only show the "Connected" flag when the device is not connected to save space
  • Added a layout reset button to the imaging tab to restore the default dock layout.
  • Equipment chooser dropdowns are now grouped by driver categories to easily distinguish between for example ASCOM drivers and other vendor drivers

File Handling

  • All FITS keywords now have descriptive comments with units of measurement noted if applicable
  • FITS keyword DATE-OBS now has millisecond resolution, eg: 2019-03-24T04:04:55.045
  • Additional FITS keywords are now added to images if their associated data is available:
    • DATE-LOC: Date and time of exposure adjusted for local time
    • FOCRATIO: Focal ratio of the telescope, user-configurable under Options->Equipment->Telescope
    • SET-TEMP: The configured CCD cooling setpoint
    • SITEELEV: Elevation of the observing site, in meters
    • SWCREATE: Contains N.I.N.A. <version> <architecture>
    • TELESCOP: Telescope name if provided under Options->Equipment->Telescope. Falls back to ASCOM mount driver name

OSC Camera Handling

  • Debayering is now applied prior to plate-solving or auto-focus star detection
  • An Unlinked Stretch option has been added. When enabled, color channels will be stretched separately, helping hide the sky background. This results in more visible celestial objects, and helps enhance both autofocus and platesolving reliablity, especially in light polluted areas. Processing time is however increased.
  • A Debayered HFR option has been added. When enabled, the HFR computation will be made on the Debayered image rather than the Bayered array, providing better Auto-focus results

Star Detection Sensitivity

  • Star Detection has been enhanced to detect more stars more accurately, while avoiding picking up noise by checking that the star is a local maximum and has sufficient bright pixels
  • In addition, a new Star Sensitivity Parameter is available in the Imaging options. It has three settings:
    • Normal: use standard NINA star detection
    • High: More sensitive method, with little to no performance impact. Typically picks up 1.5x – 2.5x more stars than Normal
    • Highest: Most sensitive method, with some performance impact. Typically picks up 1.5x – 2.5x more stars than High
  • The higher the detection level, the more likely lumps of noise are liable to be picked up (despite rejection parameters to avoid that)
  • A noise reduction parameter has been added for better star detection in fairly noisy images, which can be important if using High or Highest star sensitivity levels, although the Normal sensitivity level will also benefit from it. Several settings are available:
    • None: no noise reduction on full size image done before star detection
    • Median: a Median filter is applied to the full size image before star detection. This is good if the sensor has many hot pixels, but time consuming
    • Normal: a standard fast Gaussian filter is applied to the full size image before star detection. This is good for smoothing out the thermal and bias noise of the sensor
    • High: a strong fast Gaussian filter is applied to the full size image before star detection. This is for fairly noisy images, but can make star detection more difficult
    • Highest: a very strong fast Gaussian filter is applied to the full size image before star detection. This is for noisy images, although star detection may suffer

Bugfixes

  • Fixed when FramingAssistant was not opened before and a DSO was selected from the SkyAtlas as Framing Source an error could occur
  • Fixed scrolling through Framing Assistant Offline Sky Map while cursor was inside Rectangle ignored zooming
  • Fixed Alitude charts displaying wrong Twilight/Night predictions for some scenarios
  • Manual focus target list was not updating in some scenarios. Now it will always update. The interval for updates is one minute.
  • Fixed an issue in FramingAssistant when reloading the image and having multiple panels selected, that the orientation was not considered properly resulting in wrong coordinates
  • Fixed an issue in the Telescope Equipment tab that could potentially slew to the wrong Declination if the declination angle was negative
  • Fixed issues in the subsampling logic for ASCOM, ZWO, and QHY cameras – the origin coordinates are now properly set, and take binning into account
  • Fixed a race condition that caused HFR to not be computed for frames right before autofocus in some instances
  • Fixed an issue for Nikon SDK that looked into the wrong folder for the external md3 files.
  • Fixed a bug where Platesolve Orientation was displayed as negative and also throwed of the rotation centering when using rotators.
  • Fixed a bug in Autofocus routine that could wrongly declare an autofocus run a failure if the starting point couldn’t detect any stars
  • Fixed custom color schema not saving properly and resetting to default when reloading the application
  • The backlash measurement routine has been fixed so that the focuser is properly recentered before the backlashOUT measurement procedure
  • Some Sky Surveys did not work in some locales due to decimal pointer settings

Improvements

  • When EOS Utility is running in the background, the x64 N.I.N.A. client will scan for this app and prevent a crash due to the EOS utility being open. Instead a notification will show up to close the EOS Utility.
  • N.I.N.A. SQLite Database will be created on demand and migrated to new versions on application startup instead of just being overwritten by the installer.
  • Setup Installer can be run in fewer clicks and is also capable of launching the application after successful installation.
  • Image History Graph will only contain statistics from sequence items
  • Further increased parallelism during sequencing.
    • After capture during image download: Parallel dither and change filter (if required)
    • After download: Parallel image saving and processing to display the image
  • Image HFR is now available as an image file name token ($$HFR$$)
  • Focuser Temperature is now available as an image file name token ($$FOCUSERTEMP$$)
  • Added a clear button on HFR History graph. The button will be displayed when hovering the control.
  • A new button is added in the options to directly open the log destination folder
  • Added option to adjust USBLimit for Altair and Touptek cameras. This can prevent potential black preview screen issues. More details on this topic described at altair: https://altaircameras.com/black_preview_screen/

Special Thanks

The N.I.N.A. team would like to sincerely thank:

  • The staff at Cloud Break Optics and Finger Lakes Instrumentation for arranging a ProLine PL09000 and CFW1-5 to assist in integrating native FLI camera and filter wheel support.
  • Filippo Bradaschia from PrimaLuceLab for providing an EAGLE unit to implement direct interfacing with the EAGLE Manager

Included Camera SDK Versions:

  • Altair: 39.15529.2019.906
  • Atik: 8.7.3.5
  • Canon: 3.8.20.0
  • FLI: 1.104.0.0
  • Nikon: 1.3.0.3001
  • QHY: 0.5.1.0
  • ToupTek: 30.13342.2018.1121
  • ZWO: 1.14.7.15

N.I.N.A. merchandize!

Today I am happy to announce the opening of the N.I.N.A. spreadshop where you can buy T-Shirts, sweaters, bags, cups and other nice items with the awesome N.I.N.A. Logo.
Every item bought will generate a small kick back for me, so if you want to support my work for the project while also getting a nice T-Shirt to wear to your next star party, this is your chance!

For the first two weeks you even get a discount of 15% on everything!

The shop can be found at: https://nighttime-imaging.eu/shop

The next release is around the corner

N.I.N.A. Version 1.9 is starting its Beta phase now!
A lot of quality of life improvements have been added as well as a bunch of new features.
To name a few
– Sequence improvements (pre checks and end of sequence options)
– Profiles are now saved separately and you can backup each profile individually
– Star Detection has been improved.
– OSC Camera users can now auto stretch each channel inidividually resulting in a much better preview
– Autofocus got a bunch of new failsafe settings to ensure best focus positions
– FLI Native Camera support
– ASCOM Switches as well as PrimaLuceLab EAGLE control
– ASTAP as a plate solver
– and a lot more…

A detailed changelog of all the new stuff and improvements can be found here.

Additonally to that, a new documentation is in the works. (Get a sneak peek)
If you want to contribute there you can find detailed information how to do so here.

Last but not least a special thank you to all the supporters and contributors. You all make this project possible!

1.8 is finally here

Hey everyone,
I am more than happy to announce, that N.I.N.A. Version 1.8 will be officially released! This is a huge update with massive quality of life improvements, bugfixes and lots of new stuff!

Special Thanks

To everyone that participates in our community! Be it by discussing about new features, providing feedback, reporting issues, helping to resolve them, directly contributing code or giving financial support – everything is highly appreciated and will lead to a better overall product. Thank you!

Feature Overview

One of our community members and contributors Stanley made an awesome summary video of the upcoming features. Please go check it out!

About Auto Update

Also part of this update is the new infrastructure for the auto update and this whole new homepage which you are currently looking at.
Previously the auto updater inside the application relied on the bitbucket API and was rather static in its function. For 1.8 this will change and also enable the application to provide not only release versions, but also beta and nightly builds for some early previews. These can be activated by switching the auto update source inside the options.
As version 1.7 still relies on the old auto update mechanism, there will be a two step upgrade when using the auto updater. First there will be an intermediate version 1.7.1 installed, which will make it possible to switch to the new infrastructure to update to the new 1.8 version.
The alternative is to just directly download the 1.8 version from the download section manually and just install it.

I hope you will enjoy these new capabilities.

Wish you all clear skies and happy imaging,
Stefan

Beta 1.8 Start

I am happy to announce the start of the Beta Phase for the Release 1.8.
This is the time to try out all the new features we added and fix all the issues we encounter for them. Once everything is ironed out, the official release can take place 🙂

Please find a list of all the awesome things we have worked on below!

Features

Sequence

  • Enable/Disable sequence entries

Plate Solving

  • Added interface for All Sky Platesolver

Camera Control

  • Altair native driver support
  • ToupTek native driver support
  • QHYCCD native driver support
  • Added support for anti-dew heaters in ZWO cameras
  • On ASCOM drivers support for setting readout modes

Framing Assistant

  • Add SkyAtlas image source which allows for framing based on offline SkyAtlas data

Flat Wizard

  • Supports you taking flats

Imaging

  • Added a list of manual focus targets (bright stars) that are currently visible in the sky

Framing Assistant Offline Sky Chart

  • Based on Sky Atlas data a basic sky chart showing objects can be displayed
  • Instead of dragging the rectangular through the initial image like in the other framing sources the background itself will be moved like in an orrery

Guiding

  • Added Synchronized PHD2 Guider (experimental)
  • Synchronized PHD2 Guider will synchronize your Dither requests between multiple instances of N.I.N.A.
    • Known limitations: Dithering will happen every possible synchronized frame and is not changeable

Auto-Update Channels

  • Previously the auto update was always just looking for released versions. Now multiple sources (Release, Beta and Nightly) can be selected and the auto updater updates to the respective version accordingls.
  • Additionally the changelog for the new version will now be displayed prior to updating, too.

Bugfixes

  • Corrected Max Binning level for ASI Cameras
  • Focuser move command fixed where lots of move commands where sent by accident
  • Rotation value now considered for sequence import|export
  • Canon: Fixed bulb mode for exposure times <30s
  • Canon: All shutter speeds now correctly added when step set custom function is set to 1/3
  • Meridian Flip window does not get stuck anymore when clicking on cancel
  • Log Level will now be set on application start based on profile settings.
  • ASI Cameras will not shut down their cooling and progress on opening multiple instances of NINA

Improvements

  • Clear button for PHD2 Graph
  • Hide camera cooler controls when not available for current camera model
  • Zero Floating point numbers now displayed as "0.00" instead of ".00"
  • Show better exception message when an ASCOM Interop Exception occurs
  • Canon: Errors are now shown to users in a readable format if any occur
  • Removed hard requirement of ASCOM platform. Application can now function without it
  • Improved UI Style.
    • Tweaked some color themes for more consistent colors
    • Better spacing between elements to reduce wasted space
    • Two new background colors to better pronounce some ui elements
    • Reworked Imaging tab to have a common style.
    • Imaging tab tools pane (to hide/show panels) moved to the top and split into two separate categories
  • Profiles don’t get overriden when using multiple instances of N.I.N.A. with each one having a separate profile active
  • Autostretch replaced by a better midpoint transformation function
  • Autostretch now has black point clipping options
  • Vastly improved Image Statistics calculation.
  • Estimated Finish Time will automatically update in the sequencing view
  • Added copy button for existing color schemas to copy over to custom and alternative custom schemas
  • Framing tab:
    • Moved coordinates out of framing boxes to not obscure target
    • Added a new button to be able to add the framing target to a sequence instead of replacing
    • Control to adjust opacity of framing box
  • Improved Framing Assistant and Sequence Target Textboxes by giving up to 50 target hints based on input to select from
  • Framing Assistant now can annotate DSO
  • Attempt to start PHD2 and connect all equipment when connecting to guider and PHD2 is not running
  • Adaptive Cooling: Duration for cool/warm camera is now a minimum duration. In case the cooler cannot keep up with the set duration, the application will wait for the camera to reach the checkpoints instead of just continuing setting new targets without the camera having any chance to reach those in the timeframe.

Special Thanks

The N.I.N.A. team would like to thank

  • Nick Smith from Altair Astro for providing a GPCAM2 290C to integrate Altair SDK
  • Elias Erdnuess from Astroshop.eu for providing multiple Toupcam Cameras to integrate ToupTek SDK
  • The staff at QHYCCD dealer Cloud Break Optics for lending a QHY183C to integrate QHYCCD SDK

These items helped a lot during development and testing.
Thank you for your support!

Wish you all clear skies and happy imaging!

Welcome

I am happy to welcome you on our brand new homepage for the N.I.N.A. project. Feel free to look around. You can get lots of information and documentation about the project, as well as the latest setup builds to install and try out N.I.N.A.