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SkySafari 6 Pro How-To Issues And Recommendations For Planning Functions

I posted the following on Cloudy Nights to check if other users experience the same frustrations with planning and filtering as I do. Bill requested that I redirect my posted here. The original post has been modified herein.

1. It appears that the Planner is nothing more than a observation list generator, because in the end, you end up with a list. In theory, no issues there. However, once turned into a list, there is no way to know what filters were chosen, and you've screwed if want to change one teeny-weeny parameter - you have to start over from scratch!!!

 

2. If you have existing lists, you cannot use these for a nightly plan - w.t.f.!

 

3. List ordering direction is inflexible - you can only sort in ascending order, and you cannot sort on multiple fields.

 

4. It's not clear how you create additional observations for the same object. After you create an observation, you only get an option to edit the observation.

 

How I would like to see the planning/filtering logic work:

 

1. The planning function should use an existing list and apply filters to the list. This planning list(s) should be shown  in a separate "Planning Lists" window or similar. In the planning list window objects that rise after dawn, transit in the middle of the day, and set long before dusk do not need to be displayed. Such objects can never be seen (except during a total eclipse of the sun). In real time, the list should be updated to display objects meeting the filter criteria and updated to remove objects no longer meeting the filter criteria. From this list, the other functions found in observation lists window should be available. In essence, the planning window is a "projection" of the observing list window with specific planning lists that have applied filters. One should be able to review and modify the applied filters on a list as needed. I mentioned that in real time, the objects in the list should be updated. However, from a planning perspective, another view is required, which is a static list of all of the objects that will be viewed in the plan.

 

2. It should still be possible to generate a list based on criteria (except for date and time), that will appear in the observation  lists window. In fact, the generated list should be created in this window. However, it should be identified somehow as a list based on applied filters, which can be viewed and modified. 

 

3. It should be possible to order an observing list or planned list in any direction (ascending or descending), and any order (e.g. altitude first, then magnitude, etc.).

 

4. Extra - You can end up with many observing lists. I'm starting the AL Binocular Observing Program, and there are about 7 or 8 lists for that alone! So it would be great if lists can be grouped.

6 comments

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    Bill Tschumy

    Colin,

    Thanks for posting your thoughts.

    1. Yes, the planner is an observing list generator.  That is what many planners do.  You are asking it to do something it was not designed to do.

    2. "If you have existing lists, you cannot use these for a nightly plan - w.t.f.!"  I'm not sure what you mean by this.  It is a "plan" in the sense that it is a list of things you can observe that night.

    3. Are you talking about sorting of an observing list?  I believe the sorts are "stable".  This means if you first sort on altitude and then sort on object type, the objects of a particular type will still be sorted by altitude in that type group.  Our method of sorting is very common in other apps.

    4. You can always create an observation of an object from the Object Info by using the More button.  However, you can't attach it to an observing list if that object in the list already has an observation.  In other words you can only have one observation of an object in an observing list.  If you have multiple observations of an object, you can see them all using the More button in the Object Info (Show Observations).

    We are not planning on any big revamp of the Planning for now.  I will keep your comments in mind when we revisit it.

     

  • 0
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    Colin Banfield

    Hi Bill,

    Thank you kindly for your response. I'll try to clarify my comments below:

    Yes, the planner is an observing list generator.  That is what many planners do.  You are asking it to do something it was not designed to do

    All of the astronomy apps that I've used over the list 15 years (with the exception of Starry Night, which was never designed as a planning and observation application), allow you use to use an existing list as a starting point. On Windows, I use SkyTools and (and AstroPlanner at one time). I know that DeepSky Planner works the same way. On Android, DSO Planner and the lightweight Mobile Observatory apps work the same way (Mobile Observatory isn't a full fledged planning tool with telescope control and the like, but what it does, it does well. I use it because I find that some of its tools are better implemented than similar tools in Sky Safari).

    Anyway, the aforementioned apps allow you to apply filters to your chosen list, which can be modified at any time. My surprise is that Sky Safari works differently, and in a manner that doesn't work for me.

    As an example, I have created and downloaded a bunch of Binocular observing lists (based on the Astro League binocular observing programs). So I want to filter a binocular list to use on a particular night at my chosen location. First of all, in my filtered list, I don't want to see any objects that rise after dawn, transit during the day and sets in the afternoon - long before dusk. Furthermore, I want my list to show only objects that will meet my filter criteria. All other apps I've mentioned allow me to do this. In Sky Safari, you cannot filter a list in any way at all.

    Are you talking about sorting of an observing list?  I believe the sorts are "stable".  This means if you first sort on altitude and then sort on object type, the objects of a particular type will still be sorted by altitude in that type group.  Our method of sorting is very common in other apps.

    As an example, I may want to sort a list in descending order (which other apps can do). Also, I may want to sort by constellation, then by visual magnitude and then by altitude. However, this latter method of sorting makes better sense in a tabular list form, which all of the other apps mentioned support (although they don't all support multiple column sort).

    You can always create an observation of an object from the Object Info by using the More button.  However, you can't attach it to an observing list if that object in the list already has an observation.  In other words you can only have one observation of an object in an observing list.  If you have multiple observations of an object, you can see them all using the More button in the Object Info (Show Observations).

    I'm a bit confused. How do you get "multiple observations of an object", if "you can only have one observation of an object in an observing list"?

    What I'm looking for is the ability to select an object in a list, create an observation using a specific eyepiece, then change the eyepiece or add a Barlow, and take another observation...and so on.

  • 0
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    Bill Tschumy

    Colin,

    1. This may still not satisfy your needs, but are you aware that you can sort observing lists in a variety of ways.  You can sort by rise time, transit time, current altitude, etc.  This will allow you to do much of what you mentioned.

    Just because the feature doesn't meet your definition of a Planner doesn't mean it is not a "Planner" to someone else.

    3. You can currently add multiple observations to an object in a list by creating an observation and attaching it to an observing list in the Edit Observation panel.  You are correct that their was no good way to see all the observations of an object within a given list (although you can see all observations of an object). I have recently done some additional work on this and it will be released in a week or two.  Now when you tap Edit  observation for an object in a list, if there are multiple observations then it will show a list of them and you can chose which to edit or view.  However, I'm not sure you really want to make multiple observations of an object with different eyepieces on a given night.  You can do this but it makes more sense to me to have one observation and reference the different accessories used in the description of the observation.

     

    I appreciate you comments but we and not going to make a wholesale change in how the Planner and Observing lists work in SS6.  Maybe in SS7 we can resist some of this.

     

  • 0
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    Colin Banfield

    Hi Bill,

    I'm not sure why it's taken me so long to get back to you, but if we reset the entire discussion, I would be happy if it were possible to apply basic filters to a list. So for a specific list, tap on a "filter" button to display a filter dialog (probably under Actions & Settings"), and reduce the list to show only a list of objects based on what the user specifies as the filter criteria. The filter criteria I'm thinking of is based on observability. These consists of altitude (e.g. don't want to observe any object below 30deg.), and time range (e.g. only between dusk and dawn, on a specific day). That's it! In the observing list, there can be another radio button (All, Observed, Unobserved, and Filtered - not selectable if no filter has been applied).

    I do find it somewhat cumbersome to go back and forth between an object and the "Show Info" display. Would be useful to show some basic observing information along with the object in the observation list (in a tabular format), such as rise, transit and set times, current RA/DEC, current Alt/Az, and best observation time

  • 0
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    Bill Tschumy

    Thanks for your comments.  We do hope to beef up the filtering of observing lists in future release.

  • 0
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    Colin Banfield

    Hi Bill,

    That's great news!

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