Software & Connections-- Mac OS

MAPUG-Astronomy Topical Archive     AstroDesigns



Subject: TheSky (Mac OS), Cable, and the LX200   Top

From: <> Date: April, 1999

The LX200 RS232 port is indeed a serial port, even though the RJ-11 phone connection is the same one that is used for telephones and modems. The computer end of your 6-wire phone cord should not be connected to the internal modem port of the G3. It needs to go through an adapter that has an RJ-11 female on one end and a 9-pin din male on the other. The adapter male end then plugs into the serial port on the back, not side of the PB G3. Now where do you get the adapter, you may ask? Meade provides an RJ-11 female to PC D serial connector with their Pictor cameras. You could order just the adapter from Meade. You can make your own cable, which is what I did.


Subject: TheSky 5.0 Software Update for the Mac  Top

From: Allan Keller <> Date: April, 2002

For those of you who own TheSky for the Macintosh there is a software update available at the link below.
If you currently have version 5.00 or later of TheSky for Macintosh, you can download this update. (To ensure that you are running version 5.00 or later, in TheSky, from the Apple menu, click About TheSky and note the version number.)


 Subject: sofTouch APpLications - Astronomy Software for MacOS   Top

From: Ed Stewart <>Date: Dec., 2002


sofTouch Applications, Astronomy (and other) S/W for MacOS Computers

We currently are offering the following MacOS astronomy software products:

  • ASTROCAL (2.0.2) The any-year calendar for observational astronomers
  • HIPPARCHUS (5.2.1a) The last positional astronomy program you'll ever need
  • The HIPPARCHUS USER'S GUIDE: -- Now Available On-line
  • MOONCLOCK (2.2.0) The ultimate clock for Selenophiles
  • TERRACHRONE (2.2.0) The global answer to: "What time is it?"
  • UMBRAPHILE (2.2.2) Software for eclipse chasers


Subject: Astronomy Software Collection URL  

From: Ed Stewart Date: Jan., 2002

Large collection of links to software downloads and sites organized by computer platforms:

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


Subject: Connecting the Mac and LX200   Top

From: Stephen Voss <> Date: June, 2003

I use my LX200 with an Apple iBook. You need that USB to serial adapter - there are several available and I can recommend the Keyspan twin USB to Serial Adapter ( -- this gives you two serial ports from one USB port. You'll need to purchase or make a cable that has a standard Mac peripheral-8 connector at one end and the RJ11 telephone style connector at the other (I just hacked an old Mac printer cable I had lying around). Bill Arnett has a page on his web site that details the connections very clearly ( I use "The Sky" (would like to use Voyager III if only Carinasoft could iron out the bugs!), but this setup should work with any software capable of controlling the LX200.

Or contact Charles Turner, who makes and sells high quality cables. The URL is:
    <> Note: should open a new browser window over this one.


Subject: LX200 Classic and Mac OS X Serial Connection  Top

From: Taras Hnatyshyn <> Date: Jan 2004

Jim Moscheck <> wrote:
> ...I have a Mac OS X specific question in regarding
> the connection of my LX 200 classic to a 500 mhz iBook.
> I've searched the Archive and have gotten 90% of my questions answered.
> I am planning to use Starry Night Pro and Astroplanner. My connection
> chain is: iBook computer>Keyspan USB to serial adapter>cable I bought
> which has the proper connection to the scope. When installing the
> drivers for the Keyspan serial adapter it is made very clear that
> before you install the OS X drivers make certain that the "serial
> device" is OS X compatible. Specifically they asked to make sure the
> device, which I assume to be my scope, can see the OS X serial port.
> If the drivers can't be recognized they recommend not installing the
> drivers for OS X because this can cause problems with programs and
> your computer and using OS 9 instead. So, without installing the
> drivers how do I know if my scope will "see" the OS X serial port?

My 600MHz dual USB iBook uses the drivers in the KeyspanUSAdrvr13.pkg file. I have successfully used AstroPlanner with the iBook and OS X 10.2.x and the Keyspan USB to dual serial (DIN-8) adapter. I've used this adapter with both OS X and OS 9.


Subject: Best Pair II (V1.2) Freeware Available  Top

From: Paul Rodman <> Date: Oct 2001

Another release of Best Pair is available for download at:
     Note: should open a new browser window over this one.

This is a software application for Mac and Windows computers that attempts to compute the best pair of alignment stars to be used for AltAz 2-star alignment of LX200 telescopes or any Meade telescope using the AutoStar controller.

It implements a few user-requested features and fixes a few minor bugs and cosmetic glitches.

It's still free, but in order to use it you will have to give me your name and e-mail address in order to get a password to un-stuff/un-zip it. After you click Submit, you should get a pretty fast reply via e-mail with the password. I'm only doing this to try and keep track of how many folk are using it and to be able to e-mail them if a show-stopping bug or new version is released. The information will not be released to any third parties.

Best Pair is freeware, but if you like it feel free to drop myself and/or Jim <> a note of support.

The app runs on pretty much all Mac and 32-bit Windows OSs. There's even a "native" version for those fortunate enough to be running Mac OS X.

The updated DOS version, for the one or two that might use it, is at:


Subject: ScopeDriver Software for Mac OS & PC --part 1 of 2  Top

From: Stephen Hutson <> Date: March 2002

I have released ScopeDriver, a shareware program that interfaces an LX200 with a Mac (and now PCs, too). More info here:
     Note: should open a new browser window over this one.

This is *not* simply a software version of the hand controller! The program incorporates "Find" routines for all objects in the telescope's database, and for additional objects not in the instrument's memory. The program includes thousands of common name, Bayer and Flamsteed designations, and the user may add an unlimited number of additional objects.

For those of us who are envious of the AutoStar's ability to add objects, the program can store terrestrial objects, stationary sky objects, and orbiting bodies (such as comets and asteroids), etc.

The program also incorporates slew limits, night vision display (red *and* green, based on a recent thread here), speech output, clock synchronization, unlimited observing sites, keyboard control, automatic solar/lunar tracking rate adjustment, an Observing Log, double-clickable Observing Lists, etc.

Pretty much any Power Mac can run the program, and system requirements are at the main page. I want to thank the Beta Testers (many of whom are on this list), and especially the lead tester, Bill Arnett, who refined many of the features and banged mercilessly on the program.

Updated: ScopeDriver for MacOS X Released

From: Stephen Hutson <> Date: Dec 2005

By popular demand, ScopeDriver has been brought to Mac OS X; of course, the Classic Mac OS version of ScopeDriver is also supported. Check out ScopeDriver in the February, 2002 issue of "Sky & Telescope," in the Software Showcase.

ScopeDriver is a software interface, logging, and observing planning solution for the LX200. Support for other models is coming soon.

ScopeDriver is much more than a software version of the hand control! Its database (containing thousands of proper names, Flamsteed/Bayer designations, and more) is accessed via an intuitive interface. You can also add orbiting bodies such as comets and asteroids. ScopeDriver can even read Starry Night Pro's comet files!

ScopeDriver's documentation has received high praise, and is downloadable separately at the below link.

Additionally, many users have created -- and are creating -- additional databases, observing lists, and support files for use with ScopeDriver.

Update: ScopeDriver to Control Autostar Released (see next section for v2.0 announcement), now updated to v2.3.2, Dec 2005:

Here's the download link:  <>

A description of the program appears at the above link, too. The program functions as a fully-capable demo for up to 30 days. This is the first release of ScopeDriver to control Autostar telescopes (GPS). For LX200 owners, many features have been added, and the Carbon build (for Mac OS X) is very stable.

Important Note for LX200 GPS Owners with firmware earlier than 1.5! If you own an LX200 GPS model, with a firmware version earlier than 1.5b, avoid using the "Site Information" dialog. A bug in firmware earlier than 1.5b can cause certain commands to corrupt the firmware, necessitating the re-flashing of the firmware. Meade firmware version 1.5b (and later) corrects this problem.

I've posted a review of the program here:


Subject: ScopeDriver 2.1 (Mac/Win) Released

From: Stephen Hutson <> Date: May 2004

ScopeDriver 2.1 has been released. Here's a page that discusses the new release:

Or download the v2.1 application for a free 30-day demo:


Subject: ScopeDriver Software for Mac --part 2 of 2  Top

From: Bill Arnett <>

> I have released ScopeDriver, a shareware program that
> interfaces an LX200 with a Mac.

Try it, you'll like it! Really.

> ...I want to thank the Beta Testers (many of whom are on this list),
> and especially the lead tester, Bill Arnett, who refined many of the
> features and banged mercilessly on the program.

Thanks. But the real credit goes to Stephen; he has done a fabulous job. This is one of the most professional pieces of software I've seen in some time. It's useful, well documented, it does what it's supposed to and it doesn't crash. And it's great fun!


Subject: UTC Display & NightVision Update Available    Top

From: Stephen Hutson <> or <>

Just a quick note to the MAPUG listers who use the freeware UTC Display or NightVision: Both versions have been updated today, and may be downloaded at the following pages:

NightVision is offered for PC and Mac, UTC Display is Mac only. (Let me know if you'd like me to work on a Windows version of UTC Display.) Change notes appear on the above pages.


Subject: Terrabrowser Software Available

From: Ryan at Chimoosoft <> Date: May 2003

You list one of our products, Lat/Lon Converter--see below. I wanted to let you know about another new product called. It could be useful for planning places to have star parties, etc..
   <> Note: should open a new browser window over this one.


Subject: Lat/Lon Converter (Mac OS) --part 1 of 2  Top

From: Jim Macak <> Date: Sep 2001

Fellow Macintosh users, I was getting a bit tired of looking up latitude and longitude of an observing site from various web sources, finding the results to be in "decimal degrees" and having to "manually" convert to the degrees:minutes:seconds format that I needed.

So I looked around and found this little freeware gem that very nicely converts back and forth between the two formats. Following is the brief description and the web page where you can get it.

Lat/Lon Converter is a very simple program which allows the user to convert latitude and longitude between decimal degrees and degrees, minutes, seconds. This program is freeware. (408K StuffIt file)

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


Subject: Lat/Lon Converter (Mac OS) --part 2 of 2  

From: David Johnston <>

I just created a little Excel spreadsheet to do the same conversion as noted above. Click here to download the spreadsheet or send me a private e-mail noting what version of Excel you need, and I'll send it to you.


Subject: Mac Software Recommendation-- Solscape   Top

From: Ed Stewart <> Date: Oct 2001

I've been using a very interesting piece of donation/freeware that I would like to make fellow Mac users aware of: Solscape 1.2 is a Macintosh only application available for PPC: Mac OS 7.6.1 or higher, or for OS X 10.0 or higher.

Quoting from StimpSoft: Solscape is a "Solar Data Browser" application that grabs real time, up to the minute images, data and forecasts of the Sun and it's activity. Solscape also monitors current solar flare activity and Aurora activity, providing current Aurora Borealis information and warnings for your location, along with real time Aurora images when available. Solscape mines the wealth of data provided by NASA, NOAA and other research organizations from around the web and brings them to you in one convenient, easy to use application. Solscape gets all of its information via the Internet and compiles it in a single, easy to use application. You can save and archive the data that Solscape collects for later use, and you can tell Solscape to automatically grab the data when you want. Solscape is provided free of charge. If you like this program and find it useful, please consider donating money to StimpSoft, Inc.

To download or for more information:

Personal comment: I've been using Solscape for about a month now and it has replaced the use of all my browser bookmarks for getting astro-related real time data, such as vapor/cloud imagery, sunspot activity, solar satellite imagery (awesome pictures), aurora alerts, lunar phase data, etc. It is so convenient to just select from the dozens & dozens of choices to have updated when the app is launched, and then just click the tabs for the various categories to see what is currently going on. The interface is beautiful! One of the most professionally design presentations I've ever seen. Has many additional features such as a button to make an image be your desktop picture, another to save the image to your disk, and is AppleScript-able (if that's a word?). It is well worth the time to download and explore.


Subject: OpticsCalc --Optical Calculator Software for Mac  Top

From: Ed Stewart, <> Date: Jan 2003

Found this listed in a email notice of available updates:

OpticsCalc <> is a handy optical calculator program for everyone from students to engineers who know optical theory, but need a quick and efficient way to perform the calculations. It frees your mind from having to remember all the equations, and lets you concentrate on solving the problem at hand!

With OpticsCalc, just select the type of calculation and parameters, and enter the known value(s). It does the calculations for you - and you can even copy and paste the results into another document.

Some of the calculations it handles are...
Paraxial Thick Lens
Snell's Law
Prism Refraction
Depth of Focus/Depth of Field
Reflection Coefficients

OpticsCalc runs on Macintosh computers under OS X as well as OS 8.6 or newer. There are currently no plans port OpticsCalc to the Windows environment.

Once you start using OpticsCalc and realize it's time- and energy-saving benefits, you'll certainly agree that it is worth more than the modest $15 shareware fee; but that's all it costs!


Subject: Space Images for Mac Desktops   Top

From: Ed Stewart <> Date: Nov 2002

After posting the Google images search link a few days ago, <>, I decided to use some of the images to create some images sized and formatted to be used by the Mac Appearance control panel (OS9.2 or earlier) as the desktop image. Also created instructions on how to set this up so that the images are randomly selected at boot-up, and how to create images in the right format for this purpose (rather easy with Photoshop or similar).

The images are compressed in a folder on my AstroDesigns website, go to:
   <> then select "Space Image Mosaic URL"

If there is sufficient interest, I'll make another larger set of images.

I would be glad to do the same for PC users if someone would contact me privately at the address below with instructions.


Subject: USB/Serial Adapter for Macs

From: Benjamin Stanley <> Date: Mar 2002

>Can anyone please recommend a USB to Serial Adapter to connect my Mac
>Powerbook to my telescope? (for use with Virtual PC).

I've been getting on well with the Keyspan adapter and Starry Night Pro. I intend to post more details at <> when I get round to it! (not as of Dec. 13, 2003)

For cables, contact Charles Turner, who makes and sells high quality cables. The URL is:
    <> Note: should open a new browser window over this one.


Subject: FITS Photoshop Plugin URL   Top

From: Bill Arnett <> Date: Nov., 2002

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: AstroPlanner 1.0 Software Released (Mac & PC)  Top

From: Paul Rodman <> Date: June 2002

AstroPlanner V1.0 has now been released. Basically it's an observation planning and logging application for the Macintosh (both Classic and OS X) and Windows.

It also controls LX200 scopes (among others) and includes the BestPair alignment star technology.

The basic version is free (although registration is required). The shareware version will include extra catalogues, tech support, etc., but is the same application.

Subject: AstroPlanner 1.2.2 Released (March 2003)

Just a heads up. AstroPlanner 1.2.2 is now available. In particular it (hopefully) resolves a number of issues with telescope control, esp. with LX200GPS and SS2K telescope controllers, so if you're using an earlier version you might want to download the update. <>


Subject: "Image Stacker" --Mac Image Stacking Software  Top

Here's a link to: "Keith's Image Stacker" via his Software & Techniques page:
   <> or <>

Updated to v4.2 April 2004:
Product Description:
Keith's Image Stacker is an image processing program that is oriented primarily toward astrophotography. What Keith's Image Stacker provides, more than anything else, is a workspace in which to align many similar images (say from a quicktime movie of the moon, a planet, or a series of long exposures of a deep-sky object, taken through a telescope with a webcam) and then to produce a stack of the images, which consists of a single image that comprises the average of the individually stacked images. Stacking images is a well-established method for increasing the signal-to-noise ratio in a series of similar images. True "information" will shine through the stack, while random noise will drop out.

What's new in this version:

* deBayering
* improved frame sorting and selection
* improved centroid alignment
* new cross-correlation alignment
* Fourier transform editor
* RGB channel separation

Product Requirements:

* Mac OS 8.1--9.2.2 with CarbonLib; OS X 10.0 or higher


Subject: "AstroImager" --Mac Video Capture Software Top

Here's a link to: "Keith's AstroImager" via his Software & Techniques page:
   <> or <>

Updated to v3.1 April 2004:
Product Description:
Keith's AstroImager is a typical video/image capture program which can be used with webcams or other Quicktime video input devices such as video digitizers. However, this program offers a number of utilities that are of specific aid to an astrophotographer, such as a focus aid and a collimation/alignment aid, plus the hope for long exposure control and LX200 control in future versions.

What's new in this version:

* Histograms
* Channel separation
* Target overlay for collimation, drift alignnment, or guiding
* deBayering
* Focus aid tool
* Realtime

Product Requirements:
Mac OS 9 -- OS X


Subject: LX200 Alignment Stars W/StarryNight Software Top

From: Bill Arnett <>

Frank Lochner wrote:
>I downloaded a DOS program written by J.W.Burrows in
>1995 showing the Meade alignment stars...

Use Starry Night for this. Just get Starry Night free demo available at:

and the little database of LX200 alignment stars I made for it at:

Then you'll probably want to buy the commercial version from:
      <> or <>


Starry Night from Sienna Software is an excellent planetarium program. The company, Casady & Greene, Inc. (Conflict Catcher, etc.) as provided a Mac 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.

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.


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