Astro Helper Screen Shots

You will spend most of your time on the main screen. You will find the other screens are just a mouse click away. Once you set up your viewing locations you can operate the program with just a mouse. This is a design plan so you can work with gloves on your hands.

Starting in the upper left, you will find the controls for your location. You can choose a location, edit the location, or create a new location. When any of these actions are taken the program will recalculate what is visible and the location of the selected objects.

Moving to the left you will find the main object selection tool. You simply need to use the pull down list and click on the desired object. The object will then be placed on the list in the middle of the screen.

Immediately above the object selection tool you will find the limiting magnitude tool. With this tool you can instruct the program to only show objects that are brighter than the value indicated. You can change this value by clicking on the scroll arrows or simply typing a new value. If you want to see all objects no matter the magnitude, simply click the "View All" button. There are some objects that do not have assigned magnitudes, selecting this option is the only way to select them.

Next to the "View All" button is the "In View Only" button. This is selected when the program starts. When selected only objects above the horizon will appear in the object selection list. If you want to select objects that are below the horizon, simply press this button.

In the upper left corner are the time selection tools. When the program starts up it is running in "real time" mode. That means the locations are based on the computers clock. If you want to see what will be where at another time, simple click "Now" (this will deactivate "real-time" mode), type in the time in the field above, and click "Set". To return to "real-time" mode, click "Now".

Moving down the left side you can turn on and off selected object catalogs. When the program starts the Messier object catalog is selected. You can turn on additional catalogs by simply clicking their button. Currently the "Planets" button is not implemented.

Near the bottom of the screen on the left, you will find a "Guide Stars" button. This will display the brightest starts that are up, nut not so high that they would not be helpful in aligning the scope. These are to help you calibrate the telescope's azimuth .

Finally there is a "Print Over Time" button. Click it if you want to generate a printout of objects' locations over a period of time.

There are 3 other screens that you will encounter. They are:

  • Introduction and information page.
  • Location Editor
  • Print Object Over Time

  • Introduction and information page:

  •     This screen just gives you information about the program. It gives credit where credit is due and provides a very quick operational overview. As this program is currently in a Beta release there is also a blurb about the special situation with Beta software.

  • Location Editor:

  •     Everyone has to observe from somewhere. The location you choose will determine many things including where the stars and DSOs appear in the sky. This screen will allow you to describe your favorite viewing locations. One feature that is unique to this program is the ability to inform the program of the obstructions on the horizon in 8 primary compass directions. This will allow the program to more accurately determine if an object is truly visible. Due to the feature you may have several viewing locations with the same Latitude and Longitude. You may find your driveway has a very different horizon than your deck.

  • Print Objects Over Time:

  •     If you don't have a laptop to take out with you, or you simply don't want to go through the trouble, you can plan your session at the computer and print the location of each target over a period of time. You can then take the printout with you when you go out under the stars. You can also use this to determine when during the year the best time to view something by setting the increment to the number of minutes in 2 weeks (20160) and setting the range over an entire year.