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Topic review

Expand view Topic review: HNS_FV -> ASTAP


by han.k » 22 Nov 2018, 10:33

Hello Ruedi,

Yes this feature is still available. However HNS_FV has been renamed to ASTAP and it no longer calls PlateSolve2 for the solving. The solving is now done by internal ASTAP solver (or local

To make it working you should:

1) Install ASTAP and the G17 star database.
2) Copy or rename astap.exe to PlateSolve2.exe
3) Link APT to this surrogate PlateSolve2.exe file.

This is described at:

Probably it is good to test the solver first by executing astap.exe or the surrogate PlateSolve2.exe file.

In the following menu (right side, astrometric options) you can set to create a FITS file if the program is called as PlateSolve2 surrogate. This file can be read by HNSKY and placed in the map.

Ivo the programmer of APT will likely create an dedicated ASTAP menu option soon to simplify the access to ASTAP.

If this doesn't work for you, please reply again.

RuediB wrote:
23 Feb 2018, 08:02
Hi Hank,
does this special funktion still work with ASTAP, you show in your Video at 2:34? If yes, how do i have to set it up? If no, where can i download HNS_FV?




by RuediB » 16 Nov 2018, 11:48

Hello Han,

Sorry about the late reply.
I've just been looking for updates at the start of the season and I've noticed that things have changed a lot.
As you know, I photograph with an EOS 600d.
Here are my observations:

- The ASTAP internal solver often has big problems with my data. Probably because of the long exposure time and not always perfectly round stars. Since I often use PlateSolve for the first alignment of the telescope and I often did not focus properly at that point, PlateSolve2 works much better for me. Because it is more robust and has no problem even with non-perfect data.

- If ASTAP has found a solution, the JPG is transformed to FITS but the FITS header is not updated. Of course, if I load the file into HNSKY, it can not be displayed because HNSKY does not know the position.

- When I press the Show button in APT / PointCraft HNSKY shows the frame in the correct position but the alignment is wrong, error about 90 °. (See the screenshot)
Apt_hnsky.JPG (209.69 KiB) Viewed 7483 times

I find the function 'Annotations' great. <thumb up>

Greetings and CS


by han.k » 23 Apr 2018, 13:55

Hello Ruedi,

In the latest version PlateSolve2 is replaced by the internal ASTAP solver. It should works the same. So ASTAP can mimic PlateSolve2. :)

platesolve2_options.png (38.58 KiB) Viewed 9036 times


by RuediB » 18 Mar 2018, 11:19

Hello Han,
Now it works perfectly and it only takes a few seconds. Many Thanks
Clear Skies, Ruedi


by han.k » 17 Mar 2018, 14:03

Yes many thing where already available like streching.

Note. APT uses the same file name. If you rename the FITS file you can display several images on the HNSKY map. HNSKY will display all FITS images found in the selected folder.

Clear skies, Han


by RuediB » 17 Mar 2018, 13:50

Wow! Your weeks are extremely short :lol:
Sounds very good, i’ll test it tomorrow.
Thanks and CS


by han.k » 17 Mar 2018, 13:39

Done in version 0.9.10. It takes now only seconds. Here a very brief manual

It is possible to rename the ASTAP.EXE program as Platesolve2.exe and call it instead of PlateSolve2. The solution will then automatically be written to the FITS file. The plate solution is read from the APM file produced by PlateSolve2. To speed up displaying the FITS image in e.g. HNSKY, the FITS images are stretched to ASTAP window size. Smaller window, smaller FITS files. ASTAP settings are saved when you leave the program and also the window size.

Example for APT:
Rename or copy astap.exe to platesolve2.exe. Then select in APT, pointcraft, settings the directory where this surrogate platesolve2.exe (=astap.exe) is located.

Note that APT saves the pointcraft image to solve to: .... TemporaryStorage\ImageToSolve.jpg

Set in HNSKY the FITS path to .... TemporaryStorage\ImageToSolve.jpg (This is the location where APT saves the pointcraft image to solve to)
After solving, either refresh HNSKY with space bar or move to map to the object or open the FITS file in the file menu.

1) ASTAP load the image from the command line. (from APT)
2) ASTAP executes PlateSolve2 with the command.
3) While solving is running, it streches the image to window size.
4) If the solution is generated by PlateSolve2, the APM file is read and the window is saved to a FITS file (same name but ending with .fit) with the solution keywords adapted to the new window size.


by han.k » 16 Mar 2018, 21:37

Hello Ruedi,

Okay, I will look into this and if If I can speed it up by doing so. How many pixels do your images have? It would be much better if I reduce the size for displaying in HNSKY to something like 500x300 pixels. That will also speedup the process and keep HNSKY responsive and fast.

Give me a few weeks.



by RuediB » 16 Mar 2018, 16:41

Hi Han,

Here is Ivo's Answer. I think it would go faster if ASTAP calls Platesolve2 with the .jpg and create the .fit while Platesolve2 is working, as you mentioned before.


by han.k » 08 Mar 2018, 10:00

Place a feature request for the FITS format and use of the FITS header keywords on the ideas box.

JPEG is not ideal. Lossless formats like PNG or TIFF would preserve the image better. To allow APT to write FITS files will probably will take some programming on pixel level. You can't use standard compiler libraries as for JPEG or PNG.

The ASTAP program reads the jpeg file and convert it to a FITS file, calls PlateSolve2 with the new FITS file and updates the FITS header. I think I could gain some speed by first calling PlateSolve2 with jpeg file and then create a FITS files from the jpeg and add the solution to the header. In any case APT could do it more efficient.