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Subject: LX200 Alignment Stars W/StarryNight Software

From: Bill Arnett <>

Frank Lochner wrote:
> I downloaded a DOS program written by J.W.Burrows showing the Meade alignment stars for the Classic...

You'll probably want to buy the commercial version from:
      <> Note: should open a new browser window.

and the little database of LX200 alignment stars I made for it at
      <> Note: should open a new browser window.

Starry Night from Sienna Software is an excellent planetarium program. My company, Casady & Greene, Inc. (Conflict Catcher, etc.) as provided a plug-in that ships with Starry Night. This plug-in has two purposes.

1) It connects Starry Night to the LX200 so you can click a button to slew the LX200 to an astronomical object selected in Starry Night. Or, you can slew Starry Night to the coordinates of the LX200.

2) The second purpose is to aid planning and automating an observation session, as well as providing a good way to make observation notes. The plug-in sends and receives data to/from a database program that we will be shipping by the end of the month. The program is InfoGenie 2.0. The plug-in in Starry Night will add the Starry Night data on an object to an InfoGenie database. This is done by selecting the object in Starry Night and clicking a button in the plug-in. Once database is built, you can slew both the LX200 and Starry Night to the current, or next object in the InfoGenie datafile.

For a more complete description see:

       Note: should open a new browser window.

Starry Night and the free plug-in will give you a planetarium program that is connected to your LX200. InfoGenie will give you a way to make the most efficient use of your observing time, and a convenient way to record observation notes and astrophotography exposure data.


Subject: Driving an LX200 Classic with StarryNight Software --part 1 of 2  Top

From: Jim "deepskyjunkie" <> Date: Dec 2004

Chris Hopper wrote:
> Has anyone tried to drive a LX200 classic using Starrynight software? I
> am hoping to do this when I purchase a laptop Computer in the next few
> weeks. My question is does one have to set up the star positions through
> the handset first or can one point to a star on the screen and set the
> scope to find that star then the second star the same bypassing the
> handset set totally. The reason I ask is that my handset has developed
> an intermittent fault and it will not click on for the second star line
> up, so it would be useful to bypass the handset altogether.

Chris, you need the handset or keypad. I use StarryNight Pro 4.5 on a Macintosh laptop. After all your cables are connected you have to first align with the hand paddle and then connect to the telescope in the telescope menu. Afterwards you do not need the hand paddle and can slew just using the laptop. I use both during an observing session since it is easier if you want to view the planets or a messier object. Try eBay.


Subject: Driving an LX200 Classic with StarryNight Software --part 2 of 2  Top

From: Gene "lynol1000" <>

Chris, FWIW here are some choices to do away with the hand paddle if you are perm mounted (please ignore if you have been at this a while):

If you are perm polar mounted what you ask is possible, after a good polar alignment then a sync forced from any source on any star is all that is needed.

If you are Al/Atz perm mounted then things get trickier. You can brute force tweak mount orientation. For this, what I have done is pick two 'alignment' stars and
  1) slew to or manually (loosen the knobs is ok, or 'GoTo' followed by manually) center then sync on the west one
  2) GoTo the east one
  3) tweak mount orientation to remove half the error
  4) repeat from 1

I have done this using the keypad but idea should work for external control also. I used stars as recommended by BestPair II until I could pick them from sight based upon what BestPair taught me.

You may not be able to remove all the error (or 'converge') because of a number of issues, orthogonality, out of round gears, etc., but should be obvious when you have hit the sweet spot. If your perm Al/Atz mount is aligned via this brute force method then all you need to do is sync on a star when you turn it on.

If you are not perm Al/Atz but can setup in reasonably the exact place then the brute force mount moves may not be too bad (took me about 15 minutes to perform once I got the hang of it, paying close attention to 'where' and 'what' I did to shift the mount). This method was done as an experiment as I was troubleshooting my GoTo problems (out of round gears).


Subject: LX200 Star Database Download  Top

From: Robin Gatter <> March, 1999

You can download all the LX200 star entries (no DSO tables yet) from my site at:

  <> Note should open a new browser window.

The text file you'll get contains fixed-width records, but if you prefer one with delimited fields (which is easier to load into spreadsheets etc.) you can directly download <>


Subject: LX200 Database Cross Reference Files   Top

From: Robin Gatter <> Date: May, 1999

Edward Registrato wrote:
>The LX200 book says there are 64,359 objects in the Library. I can
>account for the planets, M objects and 351 stars in the LX200 book.
>Where do I find a list of the 56,050 other objects and how do the numbers
>relate to the target?

Ed, try my web site at <> where you'll find tables cross referencing all the LX200's star entries to more common identifiers. For example, the article in July, '99, "Sky & Telescope" on Scorpio recommends a look at a wide double called nu Scorpio. You can GoTo that as SAO 159764.


Subject: LX200: SAO Catalog Cross-Reference To Other Star Designations   Top

From: David Buell Date: Sept., 1999

I have found an Internet resource that has been very useful for me and may be of interest to others.

Although the main star database for the LX200 is the SAO Catalog, many references use other designations, such as Bayer, Flamsteed, ADS, variable star designations, etc. I wanted a way to determine the SAO Catalog number corresponding to these other designations so that I could enter the SAO number to easily point the LX200 at an object of interest cited in a reference by another designation.

The High Energy Astrophysics Science Archive Research Center, maintained by the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, includes numerous catalogs of astronomical objects, including the SAO Catalog, that can be cross-referenced. Thanks to Dr. Tom McGlynn of the Goddard Space Flight Center for his description of how this works: "What you may wish to do is try to use the HEASARC's W3Browse catalog service.

Go to: <>
    Note: should open a new browser window over this one.

You'll get a page with a large number of missions for which we have catalogs. At the very bottom of the table of these in a box marked 'Multiwavelength catalogs' you'll see a checkbox with 'Stars' next to it. The label 'Stars' is a hyperlink so just click on this. It will get you a form to search the HEASARC's ground-based star catalogs. The very first one listed on the resulting page is the SAO.

Check the box next to SAO and enter the target you are interested in (e.g., UV Dra) in the "Object Name or Position" box at the top of the form. If you hit return after entering the name (or click the "Submit coordinates search" button at the top of the form) you'll get a listing of all the SAO objects within 1' of the specified target. Typically you should find just the 1 object you are interested in, but if there are multiple hits, you can probably tell which one you want by looking at the last column which gives the distance between the object you specified and the SAO object. Since the catalog whence your designation derives may not have exactly the same position as the SAO there's likely to be some difference here, but it should usually be just a few arc-seconds."

I have found that this works with most types of star designations, such as:

Bayer Alpha UMi
Flamsteed 23 And Bonner Durchmusterung BD +40 29
Variable Stars RR Lyr Aitken Double Star Catalog ADS 1435

All of these returned an SAO Catalog number, which can be input on the LX200 keypad. Just remember that Meade says their catalog only includes stars down to magnitude 7.


Subject: ASCOM Platform 3.0 Released   Top

From: Bob Denny <> Date: Oct 2003

The ASCOM Initiative today announced the eleventh release of its standards-based software platform for program control and scripting automation of astronomy instruments. Supported by 23 commercial astronomy equipment and software vendors, the ASCOM Platform 3.0 provides a set of scriptable objects for a wide variety of telescope and focuser devices. The drivers themselves have been written by fourteen different authors, indicative of the rapid growth and acceptance of ASCOM throughout the astronomy community.

For more information, go online to the ASCOM web site at:

To download the Platform, click on the Downloads link at the above page.

New things since Platform 2.3 (August 2003), in no particular order:

(1) Major upgrade to Astro-Physics driver (Sehgal)

(2) New unified Celestron driver that implements proposed V2 Telescope spec (Rowland)

(3) New unified Gemini driver (Sehgal)

(4) Meade driver has increased resolution for new Autostar firmware.

(5) Major upgrades to Telescope and Focuser simulators (Brewster)

(6) New RoboFocus Control Program with ASCOM Focuser support (Brewster)

(7) TheSky Driver now supports TPOINT protection via SYNC-inhibit, and also uses new Orchestrate-free interface that appeared in TheSky 5.00.100. (Denny)

(8) New C#.NET Telescope and Dome templates with Serial wrapper class (Fay)

(9) New Windows Script Component template for Telescope (Denny)

(10) Helper's Util.WaitForMilliseconds() now uses the Windows multi-media timer and WaitForSingleObject() to provide high-resolution accurate delays under 500ms. No events are pumped for waits under 500ms. (Denny)

(11) New Dome simulator (Brewster)

(12) New Dome controller middleware (George)

(13) New ASCOM plugin for Chris Marriott's SkyMap Pro (Crossley)

(14) New generic telescope and dome hub with embedded dome control middleware. (Brewster)

(15) New MSDN-style Dome spec document (Denny)

(16) TeleAPI and StarryNight plugins disconnect scope before releasing object instances, for .NET compatibility. (Denny)

(17) Meade driver now turns on long format for Autostar I controllers. This requires the latest Meade firmware. (Denny)

(18) Many other small adjustments per user inputs (various)

(19) All drivers and tools re-versioned and recompiled for 3.0 (Denny)

(20) Substantial update of installer (Denny)


Subject: LX200 Astronomer's Control Panel SW Supports TheSky V5  Top

From: Bob Denny <>

News Release
Astronomer's Control Panel Supports TheSky V5 =====================================
New plug-in for TheSky converts Bisque API to ASCOM object standard.
Mesa, Arizona, February 17, 1998 -- DC-3 Dreams today announced the release of its Astronomy Common Object Model (ASCOM) plug-in for Software Bisque's TheSky V5 planetarium program. The new component permits TheSky to use DC-3's Astronomer's Control Panel (ACP) to control Meade LX200 type telescopes rather than connecting directly to the telescope. When using ACP, TheSky gains the benefits of ACP's visual telescope controls, voice, and scripting features.

Voice and Scripting-------------------
When connected to an LX200 type telescope through ACP, TheSky users enjoy the benefits of ACP's voice command and response. As the user slews from object to object with TheSky, ACP's voice response announces the slews. If the destination object is in the LX200 internal catalog, ACP will voice-announce the name of the object. In addition, the TheSky user can speak commands to the telescope via ACP, and see the results reflected in TheSky's display. Finally, automated observing runs using ACP's scripting features can make use of TheSky's display for monitoring the progress of the run.

Price, Availability & Requirements ----------------------------------
The new plug-in is free of charge. It may be obtained from the DC-3 Support Center download area at:
   <> Note should open a new browser window.
The plug-in requires ACP V1.1 SP2 and TheSky V5.00.0002 update. This update to TheSky has adjustments to the Bisque Telescope API, and the new ACP/ASCOM plug-in uses this latter version of their API. The 5.00.0002 update to TheSky is available free of charge from Software Bisque's web site at:
     Note should open a new browser window over this one.
Astronomer's Control Panel itself is available for free evaluation at the ACP web site:
   <> Note should open a new browser window.

From: Bob Denny <>

This note is to announce the production release V1.1 of the LX200 Astronomer's Control Panel for Windows 95/98/NT4. The program adds voice command/response and scripting capabilities to the Meade LX200 series telescopes and works with Deepsky 99, Starry Night Deluxe 2.1, The_Sky V5, and SkyMap Pro 4.

Version 1.1 updates voice command and response to the newly released Microsoft Agent V2 technology. It also fixes some bugs and adds features. The Release notes describe the changes in V1.1 at:

Note: should open a new browser window over this one.

Major ACP features:

  • Voice command and response features including voice "GoTo". Scripts can add user-defined voice commands and/or render text to speech.
  • End-user programming by exposing COM objects with which you can very easily control the scope and do astro-type calculations from Excel, Visual Basic, etc. The objects have high-level properties and methods, you never see the raw scope data!
  • Built-in scripting capabilities that have access to the exposed COM objects and a special console device. No need for a special "astronomical language", this scripting system supports VBScript, JavaScript, Perl, Python and any other ActiveX scripting engine. And you can use the standard Microsoft Script Debugger for interactive symbolic degugging.
  • Integration with Sienna Software's Starry Night Deluxe 2.1, Chris Marriott's SkyMap Pro 4, The_Sky V5, and Steve Tuma's Deepsky 99.

Downloadable software will run full-function for a 30 day evaluation period, after which its advanced features will be disabled. It may still be used as an interface from Starry Night or SkyMap. Full function licenses may be purchased from the online store, and will remove the evaluation time limit from the existing installation.

For details, on-line documentation, and download, go to the Astronomer's Control Panel web site at:
   <> Note: should open new browser window over this one.
Please be patient, the above web site is on a low-speed line. The site design is optimized for limited bandwidth. The program download comes from a separate high-speed site, so that won't be a problem to you as you download, or to others as they visit my site here.


Subject: ACP (Astronomer's Control Panel) with TheSky  Top

From: Wesley Erickson <>

As usual, in an attempt to be brief, Bob Denny is doing his product a disservice... The ACP is such a powerful and versatile program that it is difficult to categorize - people tend to see the voice recognition and say, "That's cool", and not realize just how powerful and flexible it is. Some of the features are as follows:

Keypad functions: the ACP provides access to LX200 keypad functions (e.g. slew rate, movement, and a particularly well-done GoTo dialog).
Alignment Wizard: Mr. Denny has done an excellent job on the startup and alignment procedures for either AltAz or Equatorial mode; each step is explained, with check lists. The iterative method used for attaining polar alignment works very well. If you set up your LX200 at a variety of sites, you will particularly appreciate the ability to enter as many sites as you like; a simple mouse click synchronizes the LX200 clock to your PC.

Smart Search: the LX200 has a FIND feature, which searches the database for nearby objects (i.e. near to where the telescope is pointed). The user can specify a range of parameters to limit the search. It also has a FIELD function, which displays a list of objects currently in the field of view. These features appear to be seldom used, even by experienced LX200 users. The ACP provides a simple interface to perform these searches. Release of the ACP last year helped to identify a bug in the LX200 firmware (the so-called "Bermuda Triangle" bug): if a FIELD command is issued when the RA is greater than about 23 1/2 hours, some LX200's crash, requiring a complete reset. Until Mr. Denny released the ACP, very few LX200's had ever responded to a FIELD command. For those LX200's that exhibit this behavior, Mr. Denny has included a check box to turn this option off.
Voice recognition: the program not only responds to user voice commands (e.g. "Go to Mars" or "Go to M-101"), it also announces objects visible in the eyepiece based on the current field of view (e.g. telescope/eyepiece combination). This is, needless to say, a big hit at star parties.

Interfacing to other software: the ACP currently interfaces directly to a variety of astronomy programs, including TheSky, DeepSky 99, Starry Night, and SkyMap Pro. (Starry Night will even display the field of view for the optics currently set in the ACP). I use the ACP in conjunction with TheSky; for star parties, I use the Smart Search, toggling over to TheSky for more information about a potential target. Guests are always impressed when the telescope not only slews to your selected target, but announces the object when the slew is completed!

What I find most impressive is that Mr. Denny has created an object that encapsulates the functionality of the LX200. Users can now write anything from simple scripts to extensive programs that access the LX200 without having to get down to the hardware level. I have been playing with some trivial scripts and am amazed at the power that resides here! Work load permitting, I will post some of these scripts here or on my web site soon.


Subject: TheSky Database for LX200s     Top

From: Gene Hays Date: May, 1999

On my web page I have offered a database for use in TheSky. The database has now been upgraded extensively and version specific instructions for use, including graphics have been provided.

--The database will place small red crosses on the Meade Stars and corresponding labels next to the stars in TheSky Astronomy Software. (19KB)

--The Meade Stars can then be found and brought to TheSky screen by entering their assigned numbers into the "Find" function of TheSky.

--Complete instructions with graphics are included.

--This information has proven to be very useful to owners of TheSky and Meade "GoTo" telescopes in planning photographic and visual observing sessions.

Please take a look at the page: <> Note: should open a new browser window over this one.

Since this revision is quite extensive, I will sincerely appreciated any and all comments and reports of discrepancies. I will also appreciate any suggestions for clarifications in the material presented.


Subject: Earth Centered Universe User Object Files Top

From: Michael Cook <> Date: May, 1999

To all Earth Centered Universe (ECU) users...
As you may know, ECU permits the display of new objects defined by the user. The position, type, magnitude, and comments for up to 4,000 objects can be compiled in a User Object File.

I have a library of ECU User Object Files that I am pleased to share with you (including the Meade Star Database; there something about Meade). You may browse and download the files at my Web site noted below. Don't forget to register so that I an notify you of updates and additions to the file library.

During their development, I asked a few individuals for their input, and I received some good comments. I would appreciate hearing how these files are put to use. Also, if you have an idea or wish to contribute a User Object File, please let me know. Perhaps I can expand this into an ECU Users Web Page. Thanks to Dave Lane, author of ECU, for giving me the "OK" for this. However, any errors, omissions, or technical queries regarding these User Object Files should be directed to me.

Get ECU User Object Files - <> Seems to be a dead link.
    Note: should open a new browser window over this one.


From: Michael Cook <> Date: Sept., 1999

I have added the Catalogue of Principal Galaxies (PGC) ECU User Object File to the ECU User Object Files Web site noted below. Please note that I have filtered out all NGC galaxies from this catalogue in order to avoid unnecessary duplication of objects which are already bundled with ECU. The PGC is the largest catalogue yet at the ECU User Object Files Web site, and contains 68,859 galaxies. The first occurrence of the galaxy designation, magnitude, and morphology are included in the descriptions.

Please remember to register your downloads with me. I appreciate registration, and it enables me to advise you of file additions and updates.


Subject: MaxIm DL/CCD Controls Meade Pictor 416XT  Top

From: Douglas George <> Date: Oct., 1998

We have just released the first version of MaxIm DL/CCD which controls Meade Pictor cameras. This release supports the Pictor 416XT camera and 616 filter wheel in serial mode. We are working on SCSI support, and support for the 1616XT, 216XT, and 208XT.

For more information, please visit our web site listed below.

Diffraction Limited / Cyanogen Productions Inc. Phone: 613-225-2732, Fax: 613-225-9688
<> Note: should open a new browser window over this one.


Subject: "LunarGOTO" Update Top

From: Matt Considine <>
Jim Burrows <>

Jim Burrows and I are happy to announce the availibility of "LunarGOTO". It is freeware available at:

Note: should open a new browser window over this one.

While more detail is given on that page, a brief synopsis would be :

LunarGOTO allows the user of a Meade LX200 (and presumably compatible) telescope to select a lunar feature from a list and GoTo that feature. It also allows one to GoTo customized selenographic coordinates.

This program arose out of a request - and an excellent one at that - on the part of Rob Preston for such a capability. (The original request also looked for a sort of scheduling ability, and that is being worked on) While it's taken awhile (my fault more than anything else), the resulting program should be fun to use...

We'd appreciate feedback.

Update, 6/2002, the program is labeled as beta to avoid a warning dialog box, but is fully operational.

Oh, and just in case anyone's wondering : to GoTo the site for the flag on the moon, select the Apollo 11 landing site. Can't see anything, but at least you'll be able to show people when they ask ... (Maybe it deserves a special button of it's own?)

Give it a try - it's a lot of fun - like being in a spaceship that can hover over Copernicus, then zoom over to Mare Tranquillitatis. BTW, you'll want to do your own HPP and sync on the first feature (get slightly familiar with the Moon and pick an obvious feature). This displays another LX200 quirk - apparently you have to sync on a star before it will accept synchs on user-defined objects.

Subject: LunarGoTo SW Update

From: James Burrows <> Date: Feb., 1999

LX200 unused when the Moon blanks out all the dim fuzzies or a light pollution problem in your backyard?
Last November, Matt Considine and I collaborated on a program, LunarGoTo, to slew the LX200 to selected lunar features. Some of the additional capabilities we wanted to add have been incorporated in this program, "The Moon for Dummies":

  1. A sketch of the Moon's crescent showing the position of the terminator,
  2. The selected point is shown on the sketch with an indication of whether it is on the current near-- or far-side (including librations),
  3. The selenographic coordinates of where the LX200 is pointing,
  4. Improved lunar tracking - it may be possible to take photographs of active features on the dark side of the terminator.

We found it difficult to merge everything into a single program, so this program is offered separately with the additional capabilities, but without the large feature database.

Download: <>
   Note: should open a new browser window over this one.

This program called "The Moon for Dummies" -- those who are not very familiar with the Moon through a telescope. It depends fairly strongly on having a lunar atlas on hand, both to find features to look at, and to answer the question, "What's that in the field of view?" Specifically, the program is keyed to the popular "Atlas of the Moon" by Antonín Rükl, showing which map section the selected position is on.


Subject: Best Alignment Star Pair Software  Top

From: Jim Burrows <> Date: Oct 1998
Software for determining the best pair of alignment stars for the LX200 is located at:

<> (98 k)
Note: should open a new browser window over this one.

Check the ReadMe file to see how to set it up for your latitude, longitude, and time zone. Like I said, it's only geometric and doesn't include refraction, so you might want to exclude really low-altitude stars.


Subject: FITS Photoshop Plugin URL  Top

From: Bill Arnett <> Date: Nov., 1998

Clark Williams wrote: A few months ago someone mentioned where one could obtain a FITS plugin for Photoshop which was freeware or shareware?

That's "PhotoFITS" (runs only on Macintosh):



Subject: LX200 Software -- COM Port Checkout  Top

From: Clark Williams Date: Oct., 1999

I've posted a new program to my Website:
The file is ""

This is a WIN-32 program which will attempt to communicate to your LX200 or Autostar on whatever COM port you select from a Combo box. If the program finds the LX200 or Autostar you can then attempt to run an electric focuser. It is just a quick little tool to check out your COM port and your focuser. Especially handy if you are running PictorView and you can't remember what COM port you are on. Or if you just want to test the electric focuser to see if it is moving. UnZIP the archive and double click on the icon to execute it.


Subject: Communicating with the LX200 Classic   Top

From: Roger Hamlett <> Date: Jan 2002

----- Original Message -----
From: "John Teel" <>
> For some reason some of the commands worked just fine but
> others wouldn't work and I got a 'No Response'. For
> example, the commands to get the sidereal time :GS# or get
> local time :GL# don't work but several others do. Are
> there different command sets for different ROM versions? I
> don't recall my ROM version (I think it's 3.34L) but my 12"
> is maybe 5 months old. Any ideas? My program will get the
> sidereal time (after setting the current time via my
> computer's clock which is linked to an atomic clock)and
> then set the RA to the sidereal time (i.e. meridian).

There have been no 'recent' changes to the ROMs, and 3.34L has been the 'current' classic version for a long time.

Go back over things carefully. Make sure the port settings are 9600, N, 8, 1, and that flow control is disabled. Also in your computers 'control panel', try turning off the 'Fifo buffers' for the serial port (sometimes these can cause problems).

Be very careful about the text 'case' (obvious one..., and also try sending the commands with an extra 'leading' '#'. The LX200, treats the '#', as an 'end of command' character, and immediately starts looking for the next command. Hence if you send a leading '#', it ensures that any 'garbage' that has been received is ignored. This is what Meade does in their own 'demo' program. So send: '#:GL#', to get the local time. It should work.


Subject: USB/Serial Adapter for PC

From: Bill VanOrden <> Date: Mar 2002

An excellent USB to Serial adapter is available from Cyber Guys in CA:
USB TO SERIAL ADAPTER DB9M, G-UC232A $ 34.95 Item# 104 0475
Put the part # into the search window on the main page.

I have two of these on my ThunkPad, one for my encoder box (using TheSky) and the other for the GPS interface for Accurate timebase and position information. Works like a charm!!


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