Sunday, August 24, 2014

Mosstack 0.5 - Mikko's Open Source Stacker for astronomical images

Finally a new version and a new unimaginative name.

What's new?

  • Name! PyAstroStack was only a temporary name I came up with when I created a directory for the source code. The py prefix and camel case started to annoy me so I wanted to change it now.
  • Multithreading in Gui. Most operations can run in parallel utilizing more than one core from CPU
  • Settings in Gui. Command line is not required anymore, but I'm not going to drop it.
  • Icon and shortcut in your desktop environments menu
  • Packages for Debian Jessie and Sid
  • Lot of changes under the hood making mosstack a lot stable than the older versions.
You can get the program from On Ubuntu I suggest using the ppa archive:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:mikko-laine/pyastrostack

The repository is still under the old name. After this update sources and install package mosstack.

Next I'll start working on some kind of a manual. If you're familiar with the stacking process (know lights, darks, flats and biases) the program should be quite straightforward to use.

Friday, August 22, 2014

AstroStack: Closing on 0.5 release and roadmap to future releases

No, there's no new name. I didn't come up with anything. The name is now AstroStack and executable is astrostack with no CamelCase. I'll also change distribution package names and Gentoo and Ubuntu releases to lowercase.

Since there's a graphical user interface now I thought it would be nice to have an icon as well. I'm not sure if my graphic skills even match my coding skills, but here it is:
I'm also including a .desktop file so AstroStack will be found in the menu of desktop environments that support these files. My understanding is that they all should.

A release candidate (RC3) is already uploaded in BitBucket and Launchpad. The program itself is working fine on RC3 (at least it seems so...), but lacks documentation, .desktop file has some problems and the icons are in wrong format. I hope I have enough time to finalize this on the weekend. Now that I go to work again after one year of child care leave, my time on this project is more limited.

Roadmap to future releases:

Some planned features:


  • A manual
  • Frame information table on Gui. There's already a place holder for it but no functionality. Click a frame from the list and this should show all the extracted info.
  • Have command line interface use the same methods on class Frame the Gui uses
  • Setting for choosing memory limits for stacking. I have no idea how to limit by megabytes, but I can choose how many pieces the stack is split into. This could somehow depend on the setting.

0.7 or later

  • Show frame when clicked. Maybe as a pop up window.
  • Choose the reference frame which the rest are aligned to.
  • Choose cropping from the reference frame. This will save a lot of time and memory during the stacking process.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Problem of giving a name for software

PyAstroStack was supposed to be a temporary name I gave to the directory holding the code. I planned to change that before uploading anything to a public repository. Then after 0.1 I decided 0.2 is going to have a proper name, but no...

Now I'm planning the same for 0.5. I'm also planning on moving the public repo from BitBucket to Github so the name should be decided before that. I'm just out of ideas.

What do I want from the name?

The most important thing is simplicity of writing it. Even with Bash's autocomplete with tab, difficult commands are a pain to type. The current name is quite good from this point of view but I have to drop the capitals from command names. What was I thinking when I named the executable "AstroStack"?

Secondly I'd like the name to be relevant in some way. The program stacks astronomical images, yes, current name seems to work here as well. I've been thinking names of star constellations, nebulae, galaxies and so on, but haven't found anything sufficient. Different versions are currently being named after constellations. 0.2 was Andromeda, 0.4 was Orion and 0.5 is Cassiopeia. This name is only visible at the git branch at the moment, but maybe I'll put it in a more visible place in the future.

Third thing is, I don't want the name to be boring like pyAstroStack. I've been thinking an acronym, like so many other open source software have, but I lack the imagination for this. Also the acronym should form some relevant word.

Maybe I'm too stuck with the word stacker. All my ideas seem to include that. I should try something completely different. Or maybe I'll stick with this after all. In that case I'll drop the py prefix.

Any ideas?