Watched source folders, and more

It’s a tiny version number bump, but we’ve included some incredible enhancements to the just released Observatory 1.4.2 on the Mac App Store.

If you drop a folder from Finder onto the Observatory application icon, its images will now not only be imported automatically, but the source folder will also be watched by Observatory. It will detect new images added to it later, and automatically import them. These new images appear in Inbox.

Watch Source Folder

This new feature is great for inspecting images during an imaging session, where the image acquisition software saves newly captured images in a folder. It can be turned on for any source folder in your libraries.

In this release we’ve also added full support for camera gain, pedestal and ISO speed settings. This information is extracted from the images upon importing, and taken into account when calibrating and auto-stacking them. These fields are available in the version inspector and list browser, and can also be used for sorting images. We’ve even added Spotlight support for them.

For convenience, there’s a new “Align & Stack” command in the Stack menu, saving you a step for this common task. You’ll notice that the Align and Chromatic Align adjustments got a lot faster in this release, because of enhancements to the star detector. We’ve also added a “Division” correction type to the Flatten Background adjustment.

The Console window got a lot more useful as it now reports details about the tasks Observatory is executing and how much time these take, which may help you optimize your workflow. The Console window’s position and size are now also remembered between Observatory launches.

Locating a missing Source Folder is now recursive, so you don’t need to locate each and every one of them when you move all your images to another location. We also resolved an issue that caused the Align adjustment to seemingly not work correctly sometimes when stacking or unstacking images.

Many more smaller issues were fixed as well. You can read all about it in the release notes.

Observatory 1.4.1

We’ve just released Observatory 1.4.1 on the Mac App Store, a minor update focused on bug fixes.

Changes in the Spitzer Heritage Archive and 2MASS image service caused SHA searches and 2MASS previews to fail in Virtual Observatory. These issues have been fixed.

This release also resolves the top crashing bug in Observatory, which could be triggered by closing a library window.

Check out the release notes for the complete list of fixes.

Observatory 1.4 with Dark Mode is out

I flipped some switches today and Observatory 1.4 was released to the universe. You might remember that last month macOS was updated, which includes a neat new feature known as Dark Mode.

Dark Mode is now fully supported by Observatory on macOS 10.14 Mojave. It even works on macOS 10.11–10.13, but there it only affects the appearance of the Library window. In the new Appearance preference pick System to follow the system setting, or choose either Dark or Light to override it.

I think Observatory looks pretty good in Dark Mode.

We’ve also packed a bunch of little changes and bug fixes in there. See the release notes for the complete list.


TMO Background Mode Interview

the Mac Observer

The Mac Observer Background Mode podcast just aired an interview with me. John and I talk about my early fascination with astronomy, programming, and of course about Observatory.

TMO Background Mode Interview with macOS Software Developer Sander Berents

Background Mode is published every Monday afternoon at The Mac Observer. Please subscribe to the podcast, or visit the site for its archive of fascinating interviews with Apple developers, tech industry executives, scientists, researchers, artists, authors and journalists.

“Plate Solving in Observatory is AWESOME! And so simple!”

Mike Weasner of Cassiopeia Observatory just published a great review of Observatory. He’s using it now for his Extragalactic Supernova Project, to align and “blink” images, and for his Cassiopeia Observatory reports. Go visit his website to read the full review (part 1, part 2) and to read the many other reviews, reports and history of Cassiopeia Observatory.

A few extra notes:

  1. Observatory uses the standard state restoration mechanism of macOS. In your System Preferences there’s an option “Close windows when quitting an app”. Uncheck it, and Observatory will automatically reopen the last libraries upon launch. If you have “Ask to keep changes when closing documents” unchecked, it will even reopen libraries you didn’t save yet.

  2. Not being able to apply adjustments to stacks is indeed a current limitation in Observatory and something we want to change in a future update. However, you don’t need to export/import a stack image for adding adjustments. Just take a snapshot of the stack by choosing Image ▸ New ▸ Master. That will create an exact copy of the stack’s current state, and you can apply adjustments to it.

  3. SkySafari typically launches with your current time, and if the object you are viewing in Observatory is not currently visible, selecting Image ▸ Show Sky Chart will display an area in the blue sky or below the horizon. In SkySafari’s Horizon panel, disable “Show Daylight” and set “Show Horizon & Sky as Transparent With Line”. That will solve this issue.

Thank you Mike for the review!