Durham Astronomical Society

Useful software links

There are quite a few astronomical packages on the market. We have put together a few of the most useful free software packages available.

Star Chart


Stellarium (BSDLinuxWindowsmacOS)

Stellarium is a free open source planetarium for your computer. It shows a realistic sky in 3D, just like you would see with the naked eye, binoculars or a telescope.

It is being used in planetarium projectors. Just set your coordinates and go.

Also Stellarium Mobile Sky Map is available to purchase on Google Play.

It is a fully-featured planetarium for your phone. It shows a realistic and accurate night sky map, just as you would see with the naked eye, binoculars or a telescope.

The sensor control will also enable you to identify a star in just a few seconds, just by pointing the phone at the sky!

Star Chart


Cartes du Ciel

(Linux, Windows, Mac OS X)

This program enables you to draw sky charts, making use of the data in many catalogs of stars and nebulae. In addition the position of planets, asteroids and comets are shown.
The purpose of this program is to prepare different sky maps for a particular observation. A large number of parameters help you to choose specifically or automatically which catalogs to use, the colour and the dimension of stars and nebulae, the representation of planets, the display of labels and coordinate grids, the superposition of pictures, the condition of visibility and more. All these features make this celestial atlas more complete than a conventional planetarium.

Star chart and Space Simulator



(Linux, Windows, Mac OS X)

Celestia is a 3D astronomy program created by Chris Laurel. The program is based on the Hipparcos Catalogue and allows users to virtually travel through an extensive universe, modeled after reality, at any speed, in any direction, and at any time in history.


Useful software links

Lunar Observing


Virtual Moon Atlas




(Windows 2000/XP/Vista/Seven/Windows 10 PC/Windows Mobile/Linux)

Software for Moon observation and survey. Let you visualize the real Moon aspect at every time. Also help to study any lunar formations using feature database and pictures library.

Star Chart


C2A (Computer Aided Astronomy)




(MS Windows)

C2A is a Planetarium software that allows you to build detailed views of stellar fields. It is only available for the Microsoft Windows Operating System (all versions). An important objective of this software is to take into account the main catalogues available to professional and amateur astronomers in order to prepare observations on small fields as well as astrometry and photometry works. C2A is also an easy to use general purpose Planetarium software with many functions.

Star Chart


Aladin Sky Atlas




Java based runs in (Windows, Mac, Linux, etc)

Aladin is an interactive sky atlas allowing the user to visualize digitized astronomical images or full surveys, superimpose entries from astronomical catalogues or databases, and interactively access related data and information from the Simbad database, the VizieR service and other archives for all known astronomical objects in the field.

Aladin Desktop provides direct data access to most of the astronomical servers over the world (CDSNEDESOCADCMASTHEASARCNRAOROEIMCCE, etc), and obviously, local user data.


Also Aladin lite which is a lightweight version of the Aladin tool, running in the browser and geared towards simple visualization of a sky region.

Star Charts and More







KStars Lite


KStars is free, open source, cross-platform Astronomy Software. It provides an accurate graphical simulation of the night sky, from any location on Earth, at any date and time. The display includes up to 100 million stars, 13,000 deep-sky objects,all 8 planets, the Sun and Moon, and thousands of comets, asteroids, supernovae, and satellites. For students and teachers, it supports adjustable simulation speeds in order to view phenomena that happen over long timescales, the KStars Astrocalculator to predict conjunctions, and many common astronomical calculations.
For the amateur astronomer, it provides an observation planner, a sky calendar tool, and an FOV editor to calculate field of view of equipment and display them. Find out interesting objects in the "What's up Tonight" tool, plot altitude vs. time graphs for any object, print high-quality sky charts, and gain access to lots of information and resources to help you explore the universe! Included with KStars is Ekos astrophotography suite, a complete astrophotography solution that can control all INDI devices including numerous telescopes, CCDs, DSLRs, focusers, filters, and a lot more. Ekos supports highly accurate tracking using online and offline astrometry solver, autofocus and autoguiding capabilities, and capture of single or multiple images using the powerful built in sequence manager.


Useful software links


Useful software links

Astro Imaging



(MS Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8, 8.1 and 10)

APT stands for "Astro Photography Tool" and it is like Swiss army knife for your astro imaging sessions. No matter what are imaging with - Canon EOS, Nikon, CCD or CMOS astro camera, APT has the right tool for planning, collimating, aligning, focusing, framing, controlling/tethering, imaging, synchronizing, scheduling, analyzing and monitoring. All its features are packed in an easy and comfortable to use interface with design that had no alternative back in 2009 when it was released. Since then APT is constantly being improved and refined by the real experience of many astro photographers from all over the world including one of the APT authors.

The demo can be down loaded free to try with no time limit. The full version can be purchased for about 18.70 Euro. With a yearly fee of 6 Euro if you wish to keep up to date with the latest updates.

Image Manipulation Software

Deep Sky Stacker.jpg


(Windows XP SP2, Windows 2000, Windows 2003 Server, Windows Vista, Windows 7, 8, 8.1 and 10)

DeepSkyStacker is a freeware for astrophotographers that simplifies all the pre-processing steps of deep sky pictures.

- Registering -

- Stacking -

- Simple post-stacking processes to quickly view the final result -

- Saving the resulting image to a TIFF or FITS file (16 or 32 bit) -

After a shooting night you give all your pictures (light frames, darks frames, offset/bias frames, flat frames) to DeepSkyStacker and you go to bed. The next morning (or is it afternoon?) you can see the result and start post-processing.

Planetary Imaging PreProcessor


Introducing PIPP - Planetary Imaging PreProcessor




(MS Windows, Linux and macOS)

PIPP is a Windows application designed for pre-processing planetary images before stacking them with image stacking software such as Registax.  PIPP's main purpose is to crop each image frame and select only the best quality frames to reduce the memory and processing requirements of the stacking software.  For example, this would allow the best 1500 frames from a 7200 frame AVI (2 minute AVI at 60 fps) to be cropped ready for stacking by Registax.  On my PC, Registax does not handle AVI files with that many frames but can easily handle 1500 pre-processed bitmap files so this is very useful.

PIPP was originally written to speed up the my own processing of the multitude large AVI files that that each planetary imaging session seems to generate.  Now that PIPP has reached the point where it does actually speed up my processing workflow I decided to make it available to others to see if they find it useful and maybe give a little back to the astronomy community.

Image Capture Suite


Sequence Generator Pro v3.0




(Windows  7, 8, 8.1 and 10)

About Sequence Generator Pro

Sequence Generator was conceived under dark skies in 2010. While we know that engineers, in the absence of any real tasking, will normally be dangerous (at best), we actually used this time as the genesis of something we consider to be quite useful. Originally designed to act as a front end to the Nebulosity imaging suite, Sequence Generator started showing its potential immediately. Suddenly we were able to produce and execute fairly complex sequences without having to reset or perform manual actions for something as minor as a filter change. The best part was that we didn't need to spend a fortune to get access to this level of functionality. Over the next two years Sequence Generator, due do a variety of restrictions we faced when using third party imaging interfaces, created its own native interface. The "Pro" version of Sequence Generator morphed into a highly configurable, best in class, image capture suite.

The the full program can be down loaded free to try with a time limit of 45 days. The full version can be purchased for about $99 USD. 

Image Manipulation software
(Planetary Luna and Solar)


Registax 6

(Windows and Linux)

Registax 6 is image processing software for amateur astrophotographers released as freeware, designed to run under Windows but which also runs on Linux, under wine.  Its purpose is to produce enhanced images of astronomic observations through combining and aligning consecutive photographs (an image"stack") of the same scene, that were taken over a short period of time. The stack of images can be in the form of individual consecutive shots or from frames of a video trained on the scene. The process relies on the subject (e.g. a planet) being unchanged between photographs, so that any differences can be assumed to be random noise or atmospheric interference.


Image Manipulation software
(Planetary Luna and Solar)



(MS Windows)

AutoStakkert!  is all about alignment and stacking sequences of image, to minimise the influence of atmospheric distortions (seeing). To create high quality images of the Planets, the Sun, and the Moon, showing features that in a single shot image would be smudged out by seeing.


Useful software links

Planetary Capture Software






(Linux, Windows, Mac OS X)

FireCapture is the most popular capture software and it supports a number of different cameras. Over the years it has grown into a multifaceted tool for planetary image acquisition. Automating every thing from focusing, filter changing and tracking of objects.

Image Manipulation Software






(Windows 32-bit and 64-bit, Intel MacOSX 64-bit, Intel Linux 32-bit and 64-bit, and ARM Android 32-bit devices)

StarTools is a image post-processing application built from the ground up exclusively for modern hardware and modern astrophotographers.
By tracking signal and noise evolution during processing, it lets you effortlessly accomplish hitherto "impossible" feats like deconvolution of a heavily processed image, or autonomous denoising without local supports or masks.
Having per-pixel knowledge of signal and noise levels at all times, StarTools effortlessly produces results that have a high fidelity, while making it far easier to use than traditional astrophotography software.
StarTools puts the onus on the software to understand the user's intentions, rather than putting the onus on the user to understand the software. This belief has seen StarTools become the tool of choice for a many thousands of enthusiasts, schools and institutions.

You can evaluate the trial version for as long as you like before buying. It is fully functional, apart from being unable to save your work.

A StarTools license is currently priced at 65 AUD (approximately 50 USD, 45 EUR, or 40 GBP).

Telescope Guiding Software






(Windows, Mac OS X)

PHD2 is telescope guiding software that simplifies the process of tracking a guide star, letting you concentrate on other aspects of deep-sky imaging or spectroscopy.



  • Easy-to-use, “push here dummy” guiding for beginners

  • Sophisticated guiding and analysis tools for experienced users

  • Extensive support for commonly-used equipment

  • Easy upgrade/co-installation with PHD1, including many new features

  • Available for Windows, Mac, and Linux

  • Extensive online help and responsive product support

Telescope Guiding Software







AstroTortilla is a package of common astrophotography tools intended to automate basic tasks such as polar alignment and goto correction.

Features include

  • Integrates existing solutions without reinventing the wheel

  • Automated plate-solved GoTo correction

  • Fully automatic blind GoTo calibration

  • Fast, quantitative polar alignment by plate-solving

  • Automatic slew to an existing astrophotgraphy location

  • Automated drift alignment shot

Useful software links

Deep Sky Image Stacking Software



Sequator is a free software which can track stars on multiple images, align stars and stack them.


If you don't have an equatorial mount, by stacking non-blur star images in short-time exposures, the result will be almost similar to long-exposure on an equatorial mount. However, Sequator can control the exposure properly by auto-brightness or HDR-mode output, in 16-bit TIFF for further post processing. Additionally average random noises, rather than over-exposed on a physical equatorial mount.

  • Easy; user friendly

  • Fast

  • Automatic determination for best parameters

  • Capable under heavy light pollution

  • Powerful correction for wide-angle & complex distortions

  • Intelligent sky mask

  • Foreground detection & stacking

  • Star light enhancement function

  • Light pollution reduction function

  • Support star trails mode

  • Batch processing for time-lapse

  • Support RAW & 16-bit TIFF

Planetary Mapping and Image Processing Software



(Windows, (2000 / XP / Vista / 7 / 8 / 10, x86 processor 32 / 64 bit)

Linux with WineHQ (x86 processor 32 / 64 bit))

WinJUPOS is the result of long-time work of amateur astronomers to support observation and analysis of phenomena on planets of our solar system. The core of the software is a database of positions of objects in the atmosphere, or on the surface, of the planets and the Sun. 

What can you do with JUPOS ?

It helps the observer in the preparation of an observation. For that purpose, you can use the modules Ephemerides and Planning of observations. 

The visual observer of Jupiter and Saturn can record his Central Meridian transits of an objects with the module Recording of Central Meridian transit timings in the database. 

Observations made with the help of digital images (CCD images or digitalized photos) require a more complex processing. 

Deep Sky Image Stacking  and Processing Software

Astro Pixel Processor By Aries Productions

(Runs on: Linux (RPM & DEB), Windows & MacOS 64bits Operating Systems)

One of the main goals in the development of APP, is to make a complete Deep Sky Image Processing application that maintains ease of use while automatically using the most advanced algorithms to provide excellent results without the need to tweak dozens of parameters.  APP will give very good results with default parameters on a wide range of datasets.

You can try with a free 30 days trial

A full licence is £143 and is a one off covering all updates.

Deep Sky Image Stacking  and Processing Software


(Runs on: AppImage Linux, 64-bit Windows & MacOS 64bits Operating Systems)

Siril is an astronomical image processing tool.

Which is specially tailored for noise reduction and improving the signal/noise ratio of an image from multiple captures.

Siril can automatically or manually align, stack and enhance pictures from various file formats, even image sequence files (films and SER files).


Remove unwanted signal and pattern from RAW images is the main goal of the first step of preprocessing. Siril can of course deal with BIASES/DARKS/FLATS master files.


Improve signal to noise ratio by combining many registered individual images. Outliers rejection will reduce noise even more.


The stacked image can be improved before publication by calibrating the colours, applying deconvolution, stretching histogram and more.


Because images can contain valuable scientific data, Siril provides tools to analyze star brightness variation. A powerful astrometry interaction will quickly give you information about objects in the image.