Working in Observatory

Although you can create a single library for all your images by just dragging the folder on top of the Observatory application icon, which allows you to view their metadata, organize them in albums without the fear of modifying the original data, and focus on them by object category, there’s much more you can do with Observatory.

Here are some ideas to get started.

Quickly organize your images with the Finder

Sometimes you forget to organize the images you acquire in subfolders. Because macOS doesn’t know what a FITS, XISF or SBIG file is, the next day you are staring at a folder with numerous generic icons, but hopefully useful file names.

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could at least see a thumbnail, maybe even a full preview or image metadata in the Finder?

With Observatory you can do all that, because it includes Quick Look and Spotlight plugins for FITS, XISF and SBIG files. In the Finder, but also in Open/Save Dialogs of any application, they are now displayed as thumbnails. You can take a closer look by pressing spacebar, view select metadata in the Finder with Get Info (⌘I), and you can even use Spotlight to find images.

Check the images of last night’s imaging session

When you wake up the next morning, or come back from work the next day, drag the folder containing the images of last night’s imaging session and drop it onto the Observatory application icon.

After a few seconds, you will be presented with a window containing all the images and see their metadata. Here you can quickly visually inspect them, determine FWHMs and reject those you dislike by choosing Stack ▸ Reject (⌃⌘0).

When you’re done, select the rejected ones and choose Image ▸ Show Master in Finder. A Finder window opens with the rejected images selected. There you can opt to drop them in a separate folder (New Folder with Selection), or move them to the trash all together.

Afterwards, you can just close the Observatory window, without even saving the newly created library.

Organize your images with the Finder even more

Quick Look and Spotlight are great, but you are still manually grouping the images with the Finder, based on their timestamp, type or target. Observatory can help you to make that easier too, and it doesn’t care if you forgot to update your settings during acquisition and all your files are named 00000127.DARK.FITS, 00000128.DARK.FITS, ….

Drag the folder with the images and drop it onto the Observatory application icon. Select them all in the Observatory browser, and choose Image ▸ Move to New Album. While they are still all selected, choose Stack ▸ Auto-Stack.

Now your images are grouped by their timestamp, type, filter name, CCD temperature, etc. They didn’t get organized like this in the Finder though. To do that, select one stack, click Stack ▸ Unstack (⌃⌘U), and choose Image ▸ Show Master in Finder. In the Finder window that opens, choose New Folder with Selection. Repeat this for each stack.

Afterwards, you can just close the Observatory window, without saving.

Create a library for prospective targets

While preparing an imaging session for a list of targets, why not create a library, and use Virtual Observatory to download each target’s images from the DSS, SDSS, PTF or other archives? It may lead you to other interesting objects nearby.

Did anything change?

There’s a goldmine of raw image data available through Virtual Observatory. Align and blink some with your image. If your image is plate solved, it only takes one keystroke to take you there (⌃⇧⌘F).

Convert images

If you have an old folder full of SBIG images, you can easily convert them all to the FITS format.

Drag the folder with the images and drop it onto the Observatory application icon. Select them all in the Observatory browser and choose File ▸ Export ▸ Master Image…. Select the destination folder and click the Export button to start the export.

Observatory’s export capabilities actually go well beyond this. You can export to many more image formats, resize images during exporting, use file naming templates and more.