APT - Astro Photography Tool v4.42

v4.42 is released on 2024/02/03
[next version in March]

APT stands for "AstroPhotography Tool" and it is like Swiss army knife for your astro imaging sessions. No matter what cameras and other devices you have, APT has the right tool to be in help, from your first imaging attempts up-to gathering scientific data. It is defining standards for an imaging and data acquisition software since year 2009 using the real-life experience of many astro photographers from all over the world and one of the APT authors. It works on MS Windows Vista, 7, 8, 8.1, 10 and 11.

Time unlimited "demo" version of this astrophotography software is available in the Downloads page.

How and Why to support APT you can find at - Having alternatives drives the progress!

Here is a list of the main areas APT covers.

Supported devices:

  • Eight generations of Canon EOS Models. Check the EOS models matrix page for details.
  • Most of the Nikon DSLRs. Check the Nikon models matrix page for details.
  • ASCOM / INDIGO / INDI compatible CCD and CMOS cameras - QHYCCD, ZWO, Starlight Xpress, Atik, QSI, Orion, Moravian, Celestron...
  • Native support for SBIG cameras and filter wheels.
  • Native support for ZWO cameras.
  • Native support for QHY cameras and filter wheels.
  • Native support for ToupTek, Altair Astro, RisingCam, OGMA, Lacerta, MallinCam, Omegon Pro, Orion StarShoot G, Explore Scientific cameras.
  • TEMPer(Gold) and TEMPerHUM sensors (produced before mid 2020!).
  • USB_Dewpoint sensor.
  • Any serial control cable for Canon/Nikon. See a list of serial cable vendors.
  • KMtronic based shutter cable for Canon/Nikon. Easy to make yourself without soldering!
  • Shoestring Astronomy DSUSB/DSUSB2 and Biula Audio Trigger.
  • ASCOM / INDIGO / INDI compatible filter wheels.
  • Manual filter wheels / filter drawers.
  • ASCOM / INDIGO / INDI compatible focusers.
  • ASCOM / INDIGO / INDI filter wheel to focuser connection to apply filter focus offsets.
  • ASCOM / INDIGO / INDI filter wheel to to second focuser connection to apply filter focus offsets for motorized Off-Axis-Guider.
  • ASCOM compatible rotators.
  • ASCOM / INDIGO / INDI telescopes control.
  • Extended support for AstroHub and SirJolo Arduino based focusers.
  • Direct dithering (APT Dithering), when there is no guiding program.
  • Direct pulse dithering (APT Pulse Dithering) for self-guided solutions.
  • Unihedron, compatible with Sky Quality Meter devices and the PrimaLuceLab EAGLE EYE.
  • GPS receivers/dongles, smartphones and PrimaLuceLab EAGLE.
  • Lacerta MGen3 auto guider.
  • Lacerta MGen2 auto guider.
  • Lacerta FBC Flat Box Controller.
  • Pegasus Astro - FlatMaster.
  • ArteSky - Flat Box USB.
  • GeOptik Flat Field Generator.
  • Alnitak and clones Flat Fielding Devices.
  • USB and IP Web Cameras for monitoring the setup behavior.

Features short list:

  • SessionCraft to control the sequencing, scheduling, meridian flip, refocusing.
  • PointCraft for images plate solving.
  • GoTo confirmed with plate solving ("GoTo++" mode in PointCraft). Never implemented in astro program before!
  • Ability to frame object with simple click in a solved image ("Aim" mode in PointCraft).
  • Automated Meridian Flip.

  • FWHM (Full Width Half Maximum) focusing method.
  • HFD (Half Flux Diameter) focusing method.
  • InvPower (Fourier transformation) focusing method.
  • Bahtinov Aid - powered by the Bahtinov Grabber technology to provide focusing with sub-pixel precision with a mask!

  • Automated focusing with ASCOM focusers using HFD/FWHM/InvPower via Hyperbola Fit
    (better than V-Curve).
  • Automated refocusing by temperature, image count, time, filter change and etc.
  • Temperature compensation of the focus position.

  • DataCraft for automated images remote transfer/backup and database image indexing/browsing.
  • USB Monitor - Keeps track on the connected devices and shows history on the devices plugging/un-plugging. Never implemented in astro program before!

  • PAPS - Polar Align via Plate Solving - 3-points polar alignment.
  • DARV - Drift Alignment by Robert Vice method. Never implemented in astro program before!
  • Drift/Goto Alignment aid - Rotatable/Movable cross.

  • Darkness clock and Deep Sky Darkness (DSD) calculator.
  • Air Mass tracking and storing.
  • Meridian Flip clock.

  • Objects Browser with 545 or 21,253 deep sky objects (in short or extended list) , 78 or 337 alignment stars, 2 start maps to use for size, coordinates selection and GoTo alignment. Available are audio extensions as additional download packages!
  • Possibility to enter/import/export data for custom objects in the Object Browser.
  • Field Of View calculator tuned for you camera and telescope.
  • Sky Quality NELM (V) to/from MPSAS (B) convertor.
  • Check lists editor/browser for easier setup, packing, imaging.

  • Collimation aid.
  • Pixel Aid with various image statistics - Median, Std Dev and etc.
  • CCD/CMOS Flats Aid to determine the right flats exposures and to create imaging plan.
  • CCD/CMOS cooling and warming aids.

  • Multi-camera operation.
  • Multi-camera synchronization and dithering.
  • Multiple color skins - Orange, Red, Grey, Light Grey, Green, Blue, White (click on the colors to see screenshots).
  • Multiple setup settings profiles.
  • Flexible naming and grouping of the stored images - combination of 21 naming options (including EXIF temperature) and 11 grouping options.

  • Internal commands API for advanced session automation.
  • Possibility to call external scripts and programs.
  • EOS camera shutter counter displaying on camera connection (Digic III and latter).
  • EOS Lens control (Digic III and latter).
  • EOS Lens aperture control during plan execution.
  • Planetary panel to record DSLR Live View stream in sequence of JPGs, with automation features.

Integration

  • Plate solving with Astrometric STAcking Program (ASTAP) made by Han Kleijn.
  • Plate solving with PlateSolve3 (PS3) made by PlaneWave Instruments.
  • Plate solving with PlateSolve2 (PS2) made by PlaneWave Instruments.
  • Blind plate solving with All Sky Plate Solver (ASPS) made by Giovanni Benintende.
  • Plate solving with AstroTortilla.

  • PHD2/PHD Dithering, guiding control, exposure Auto-Canceling and real-time monitoring of the distance to the guide star.
  • Lacerta MGen3/MGen2 Dithering, , guiding control, exposure Auto-Canceling and real-time monitoring of the distance to the guide star.
  • Lin_guider Dithering, guiding control, exposure Auto-Canceling and real-time monitoring of the distance to the guide star.
  • MetaGuide Auto-Dithering.
  • AstroArt Auto-Dithering.

  • Possibility to interact with Cartes du Ciel (CdC). Import mosaics, observing and frames lists in the Object Browser.
  • Possibility to interact with Computer Aided Astronomy (C2A). Import .COS and .C2A lists in the Object Browser.
  • Possibility to interact with SkytechX.
  • Possibility to interact with Hallo Northern SKY (HNSKY) Import mosaics in the Object Browser.
  • Possibility to interact with Stellarium and act like ASCOM bridge/proxy.
  • Import from www.telescopius.com / www.dso-browser.com lists and mosaics as Custom/ToDo objects in the Object Browser.
  • Import from AstroPlanner lists as Custom/ToDo objects in the Object Browser.
  • Import from Deep-Sky Planner lists as Custom/ToDo objects in the Object Browser.

Additional features included in the FULL version :

  • Our thankfulness for Your appreciation about the work and the support that we are constantly putting into APT!

  • No red message in the Image Preview area :)

  • Automatic EOS Lens focusing (using FWHM or HFD) - built into the Lens Panel. Never implemented in astro program before!
  • Framing Masks - a multi session aid to help orienting the camera by same angle and position during multiple nights or after meridian flip. Never implemented in astro program before!
  • Notifications for refocusing when the temperature changes or closing dew point to avoid un-needed heating (requires TEMPer(Gold) or TEMPerHUM or focuser with temperature sensor).
  • HD Video recording for Digic IV cameras from the Planetary panel. Requires lens or T-ring with focus confirmation.
  • Support for Lunatico GNS - Good Night System to get alarm for problem with the imaging session on your smartphone.

The full list of features and detailed information about them can be found in the User's guide page.