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Using Sky Safari Pro under dark skies - Pretty good! With some improvements.

For a few nights this past new moon I tried to use Sky Safari Pro (SSP) as my single night's source of atlas and telescope controller. I've tried before.

My location 10 miles west of Lake San Antonio CA. Telescope UC-22 with Argo and ServoCat Gen 3 with 7.x firmware. WiFi module: Orion StarSeek. Connection: StarSeek to ServoCat via USB to USB. Skies were about Bortle 2/3. Very steady. But with some haze (water vapor?)

FULL STOP: I may not know SSP well enough. If so... then I apologize in advance. These are simply MY observations over the past 5 nights.

First and foremost. WHO thought it was a great idea to make the keyboard gray? Its UNUSABLE when my 4th gen iPad is properly filtered with Rubylith unless I turn up the brightness on the entire iPad. That is a no no. Sorry if I am a 'serious' observer and am bitching. There is NO 'red' mode or 'night' mode on the iPad that is better for preserving dark adaptation than: "dim the iPad as far down as possible, put a layer of Rubylith on it, and change to a monochrome chart." Leave the keyboard as is the default on IOS  OR give me a choice. (3 other people could NOT find a setting to change the keyboard if it is there, and agreed it was unreadable if the iPad's brightness was minimal and filtered.) Maybe SSP is more for 'lets look at bright stuff' people than "let us chase down a Shakhbazian Compact Group", but damn the KB is unusable when the rest of the UI is properly dimmed and filtered under mag 6.5 skies.

Using the program to control the UC22 I found the display is very jumpy. Manual controls easily overshoot even when slewing at a slow speed. But that could be me or settings. And the combo of ServoCat and SSP gets easily confused about "Where we are". I am not sure why. HOWEVER when it works it is VERY cool, and VERY VERY productive!!! 

Overall I keep trying to use an iPad and SSP to be my nights 'only way around the sky'. But wind up looking at my net printouts, charts,  and using the Argo/ServoCAT. Which is a pain since most of what I like to observe winds up as Scratch objects. (Yes I create user catalogs as well!)

If I had found a way to fix the KB color I think I'd have tried harder. I wish the authors were with me so we could have just talked!!! :) As a software developer for the last 35 years, yep, started in 1982, I know the best way to develop what they want is to sit and go over it face to face! 

Anyway SSP is still THE app for the iPad. Buy it!


Clear skies




  • 0
    Bill Tschumy


    I'm a bit mystified by your comment about the gray keyboard being unreadable.  I always use Rubylith or some other read film and never have had a problem.  It is the case that if you use a rd film, you really want to turn OFF the "Redden Keyboard in Night Vision" setting in the Appearance & Behavior settings.  When this is on I put a red overlay over the keyboard and this will make it muddy if you have a red film there.

    You also say the "combo of ServoCat and SSP gets easily confused about "Where we are"".  Can you explain that a bit?  This should never happen if you have set things up correctly.



  • 0
    Jeff Gortatowsky

    I am always hesitant to speak up. Let just say I did not have redden KB set. I still would prefer the option of the normal KB even if wanting things dim, this might seem counterintuitive. I darken the iPad using 'General Settings' WAY down. Then a layer of Rubylith. And Monochrome charts. I could not read the keycaps. Maybe I am just getting old! :)

    I can not tell you why but within a few slews, the servocat and SSP connected via SkyFi (Orion StarSeek actually), would be off.

    However only did few slews as typing in what I wanted to Goto (UGCs/PGCs) was truly hard with the KB. My days under really dark skies (6.5+) are so limited I'd rather used the time to observe, not play with electronics.  So I turned it off, and used the Argo and, if need be, scratch objects menus (a PITA - I have ordered a Nexus).

    Clear skies


    PS: Is 

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