Artemis Capture

Artemis Capture
Artemis Capture
User’s Manual
V. 2.1 – August 2014
1 Artemis Capture
Artemis Capture is a standalone program which allows you to control your Atik
camera, take images, preview them, and save them to standard FITS files.It
does not perform any image processing other than simple histogram
manipulation for mapping the 16-bit images to the display. The data saved in
the FITS file is exactly what is read from the camera (raw), so any adjustment is
purely for display purposes. Focus should be very easily achieved with focus
assist as described further.
1.1 Features
The capabilities of Artemis Capture include:
· Control over pixel binning.
· Selection of an image sub-frame for rapid focusing.
· Automatic capture of a series of images, saved with sequential file names.
· Adjustment of black and white levels, and log stretch for displaying images,
with histogram function.
· Focus Assist option using data gathered from star images
· Zoom feature.
· Display adjusted for aspect ratio for sensor whose pixels aren’t square.
· Night-vision mode.
· Cooler switching and temperature regulation.
· Motorized Filter Wheel control.
· Autoguider function with dithering.
· Image capture sequencer.
· Can open FITS files for inspection.
1.2 Using Artemis Capture
The main Screen
When you first start the program, you will be warned if your camera is not
connected or powered up. It is possible to run the program without the camera
by clicking on “ignore”, although most of the functions will be unavailable.
The main settings in Artemis Capture are controlled using two dialogs, the
‘display’ dialog and the ‘exposure’ dialog. Both of these are a modeless dialog,
which means that they can be left open while you run the program and capture
images, etc. However you should be aware that if one of these dialogs is
selected then certain keyboard shortcuts or mouse operations in the main
window may not behave as expected. If this happens, simply click on the main
window to select it.
1.3 Quick Start
The cooler is off by default on the cameras that support
regulation. You can turn it on using the cooler control
icon. When the cooler window appears, just press
"Cooler on".
Your camera includes an advanced cooling system which provides cooling
down to a specified delta below ambient temperature (model dependant). Also,
and because for some applications it’s more important to accurately control the
temperature of the sensor than it is to achieve the lowest possible temperature,
there is a regulation system, which ensures that the temperature is stable at all
times (on some models).
The cooler control window has a few options you should be familiar with.
As soon as the Artemis Capture software is opened,
the cooler control window is shown. Immediately, the
current CCD temperature will be displayed, as well as
the current cooler status. On unregulated cooling
models (e.g. 320E), the temperature will be displayed
as “unknown”. In this case the cooler can only be turned on or off, and it will
always cool to the maximum possible level.
Before activating the cooling system, you should select the desired
temperature. While doing this, you should take into account the maximum
cooling system capacity of the camera, so you should never go below this
threshold to ensure that the temperature is stable. You can use the current CCD
temperature as a starting point when selecting the temperature you wish.
There are two buttons available on the control window. The “Cooler on” button
initiates the cooler. After pressing this button, it will then change to “Warm up”.
When pressing the “warm up” button, the camera will initiate the power down
sequence, which will raise the temperature slowly. This procedure is necessary
to avoid thermal shocks on the CCD itself, and should always be executed
before turning power off.
After turning on cooling, it may take about 5 minutes for the temperature to
stabilize at the desired set point.
If you want to simply take a quick shot to verify that the program and camera
are working correctly, you can use the F1-F8 buttons to take a single test
image. F1-F4 take an exposure of 0.1, 1, 5 or 10 seconds respectively, and F5F8 use the same exposure times but binned at 2x2 for greater sensitivity. Here’s
a list of shortcuts:
F1: 0,1s
F2: 1s
F3: 5s
F4: 10s
F5: 0,1s (binned)
F6: 1s (binned)
F7: 5s (binned)
F8: 10s (binned)
The “Quick” menu
The last menu option, “Save”, allows the preset F-key options to be edited.
1.4 Main Screen
The main window in Artemis Capture is used for displaying the most recently
captured image. A green outline rectangle is displayed in the window, indicating
the full size of the CCD sensor. If a sub
frame, or Region Of Interest (ROI) is being
used for imaging then it is indicated by a
red outline rectangle within the green one.
You can scroll the display using the
scrollbars, or by dragging it with the left
mouse button. Dragging the right mouse
button within the CCD area allows you to
set the sub-frame interactively. If you have
a mouse with a wheel, you can use the
wheel to zoom in and out - the point
beneath the mouse pointer is the ‘focus’ of
the zoom, and remains in the same place
on the display.
Additionally, you can select a ROI area by
Sub-Frame selection
clicking the sub frame button and
selecting an area within the green outline.
1.5 Exposure Settings Dialog
This dialog is displayed by selecting the
‘View | Exposure Settings’ menu option, or
by clicking the toolbar button. Here you are
able to set the exposure time for the image,
the individual X and Y binning factors, and
you can numerically specify a sub-frame if
you wish.
The "Pre" check box activates the preview
mode, where the image download will be
about twice as fast. However, quality will
suffer. This mode is especially useful for
focusing the camera.
The “Dark” check box causes the shutter to
remain closed during exposures, allowing
dark frames to be taken (only on cameras
with mechanical shutters). Please note that
whilst the shutter can be relied upon to
keep light out of the camera during nighttime observing conditions, additional
measures must be taken to ensure that the
camera is light-tight when taking dark
frames during the day.
The exposure dialog box
Also, a delay between exposures setting is available, since it is desirable to
have the autoguider stabilize before starting the next exposure. This can be set
in the “Delay(s)” box, and it’s measured in seconds.If the Autosave box is
checked then every time an image is captured, it will automatically be saved as
a FITS file with a sequence number appended to its name, in the form you
select on the “Seq fmt” option. “Seq no.” allows you to select the next number
in the sequence.
Once you have selected the exposure settings, you can take a snapshot using
the Camera |Snapshot menu option, or by clicking the camera toolbar button.
The indicator at the bottom right of the window shows the current camera status
- exposure time remaining, download state, etc. Once the image is downloaded
it will be displayed on the main screen you can adjust the display using the
‘Display Options’ dialog.
1.6 Display Options Dialog
This dialog is displayed using the ‘View |Display
Options’ menu item, or by clicking the toolbar
button. It allows you to adjust the way in which the
16-bit image is mapped to the PC’s display. In
general, two values are chosen within the range of
16 bit numbers present in the image. Pixel values
equal to or less than the lower value are displayed
as black, and pixel values equal to or greater then
the higher value are displayed as white. Values in
between are displayed as shades of grey. The ‘Log’
value controls how the grey shades are distributed
– a value of zero produces a linear map, negative
values provide higher contrast at the higher end,
and positive values boost the contrast at the lower
The Display box
The ‘Auto stretch’ box allows the program to automatically adjust the black and
white levels each time an image is captured. The levels are chosen such that
only a few pixels fall outside the range. If the box is unchecked then you can
manually adjust the black and white levels using the sliders.
A histogram is displayed as well, to give an idea of what is the pixel intensity
distribution on the image. The little red and green indicators are where the black
and white points are set, respectively.
The ‘Reticle’ checkbox will add a reticule to the displayed image. It may be of
use for determining the center of the frame, so that you can align your goto
telescope, for example. The ‘Negative’ checkbox will display the image as a
negative, which can be useful when trying to spot faint objects on a dark
The ‘Correct aspect ratio’ box adjusts the displayed image according to the
physical dimensions of the pixels on the CCD sensor. If the box is checked then
the height of the displayed image is scaled so that a square area on the screen
corresponds with a square area in the sky.
‘Night Vision’ changes the Windows colors to shades of red, in order to help
preserve visual dark adaptation when using the program at night. When the
program shuts down, or the box is unchecked, the original colors are restored.
[Hint: You can save the night vision color scheme for use with other programs, if
you click the checkbox and then right-click the Windows desktop, select
‘Properties |Appearance’ and then ‘Save as’.
Give the scheme a name such as Night Vision and you can then return to it any
time you like using this dialog. You may also want to save your standard color
scheme, so that you can re-select it after using the Night Vision scheme.]
1.7 Focus Assist and Autoguider function
When taking an astronomical image it is critical that focusing is as accurate as
possible. To help achieve this, Artemis Capture provides the Focus Assist
When you have the camera roughly focused so that you can see stars in the
captured image, you can activate the focus assist dialog by double-clicking on a
star. For best results you need to choose one which is bright but not
overexposed, and which has a relatively clear area around it. The program will
select the brightest star in the vicinity of the selection, and draw a small box
around it. It will also pop up a dialog showing some information about the
Star’s image, in a large bold font so that you can read it when at the telescope
which may be some distance from the PC monitor.
The information provided is the star’s maximum brightness (the difference
between the brightest pixel and the background level), and the width of the star
image. This is calculated as the size of a square, centered on the star’s
centroid, containing half the total flux from the star. The objective is to adjust the
telescope’s focus until the
maximum and the width
reaches a minimum - this will
brightest star images.
Whilst focusing it is also a
good idea to select a sub
frame around the star in order
to reduce the image download
time, and use the zoom
feature so that the
Star is displayed highly
magnified so you can verify
that the image quality is
improving as you adjust the
Focus assist box
focus. Then use the camera
‘loop’ button to repeatedly
take images until you reach perfect focus as indicated visually and with the
Focus Assist dialog.
Artemis Capture tracks the star from one exposure to the next by searching for
the brightest pixel in the area around the star’s previous location. Depending on
the magnification and stability of the telescope, the star may drift by a number of
pixels from its previous location. Clicking the ‘Set’ button in the Focus Assist
dialog allows you to specify how many pixels the program will search around
the previous location when trying to locate the star. You can also specify the
radius that will be used to measure the star’s properties once it is located - this
should be a little larger than the radius of the star, but smaller than the distance
to the next star.
1.7.1 Autoguider function
The Autoguider function of Artemis Capture allows using a second camera to
guide on a reference star, so that much longer exposures can be obtained.
Tracking errors can then be compensated by monitoring the reference star
position from exposure to exposure of the guide camera.
To use this very useful feature,
you should do the following:
Setup your guide telescope or
off axis guider. Open Artemis
Capture (if you’re already using
Artemis Capture with your main
instance of Capture. The
software will then ask to which
camera you want to connect),
roughly focus the camera, and
then double click a star. Fine
focus using the procedure
described above.
As you have already noticed,
Autoguider setup
there is a check box on the
focus assist window, called “Setup Guiding. Click it, and the window will expand
to show all the controls available.
If you press the “Help” button, a new window with instructions on how to operate
all the Guider options will be shown.
The ASCOM chooser is used to select the mount where the guider commands
will be sent. You’ll need to setup your mount on ASCOM before using the
autoguide function.
1.8 Filter Wheel control and Image sequencer
Artemis Capture can Control the Atik USB Filter
Wheel automatically, so that it’s now possible to
take a sequence of images. To control the wheel
manually, press the filter wheel icon. A new
window will be shown, with a dropdown box,
where you can select which filter number you
wish to use. Changing this number will turn the
wheel to the selected position.
Filter wheel control
Additionally, there is a sequencing
function available, which allows
taking multiple images in the
desired sequence.
By selecting the sequencer button,
a new window will be shown. This
window has several lines, which
represent the sequences. On each
line you can select if it’s enabled or
disabled, the exposure length,
binning level, the filter position, file
suffix and system command (this
Below the sequence list, you have
additional options:
Sequencer window
o Sequence repeat mode: Selects how the sequence is treated –
1;2, 1;2 or 1;1, 2;2, etc.
o Repeat count: The number of times the sequence is repeated.
o Delay between exposures: Inserts a delay between exposures.
Useful for guider stabilization, if needed.
o Delay before start: Adds a delay before the sequence is started.
Also useful for initial guider stabilization.
o Load settings: Loads a previously saved sequence
o Save settings: Saves a sequence for later use
o Run: Runs the sequence
Please note that, to save the images that the sequence will generate, you need
to setup the file name and destination on the Exposure Settings dialog (see 9.5
above), and activate the “Autosave” option, otherwise none of the images will
be saved!
1.9 The Marker mode
The marker mode is very useful to help aligning your images from session to
session, especially if you need to setup and tear down every time.
It allows you to create
markers on reference stars,
which will then help you
realign your camera on the
next session. This helps
minimizing any rotation
issues, as well as keeping
the image as aligned to the
preventing the loss of image
area in post processing.
To activate this mode, just
press the ‘Marker mode’
button. Then simply double
click on the reference stars
Marker Mode
of your choice. A small
crosshair will be visible on
top of the star. It is recommended to use brighter stars for this, as it will be
easier to realign later on, as sorter exposures will be needed to record the stars.
When the markers are put in place (2 or 3 are
enough), you can right click anywhere on the
image and the menu on the left will be visible. It
will allow you to insert a new marker (same as
double clicking), delete a marker (if you right click
on top of an existing marker), delete all markers
and load or save the markers.
Once the markers are put in place, you’ll want to
save them for later use.
On your next session, just point the telescope to the target object, activate the
Marker mode by clicking the button, right click on the image and select ‘Open
markers’. After loading your previously saved markers, the crosshairs will be
visible on screen.
You can now adjust your camera rotation and use your mount controls to put
the reference stars exactly where they were on your previous session.
1.10 Colour cameras and the ArtemisRGB utility
Basically, the Colour version of any Atik camera is the same as the
monochrome counterpart, both in aspect and functionality. However, it features
a CCD which has colour filters built in, enabling the capture of colour images in
a single exposure.
Artemis/ATIK Capture handles these cameras just like the monochrome
versions, but features a menu dedicated to colour imaging.
The “Colour” menu has 3 options:
RAW - Displays the image as it comes from the camera
Colour - Displays a synthesized colour image from the RAW data
Luminance - Displays the Luminance channel of the image (grayscale)
Keep in mind that all these options only affect the way the image is displayed.
Images are always saved as RAW data. Since images are saved in RAW data,
there is a need to decode colour data for further processing. That’s where the
ArtemisRGB utility enters.
ArtemisRGB is a standalone application designed to work with FITS files
produced from Artemis cameras fitted with colour CCD sensors. The CCD
sensors in these cameras have a matrix of colour filters over the sensor
elements, so each pixel samples a certain colour of the image. The function of
ArtemisRGB is to take this raw image and convert it into a full-color image.
· Conversion of images from Primary (RGB) and Secondary (CYMG) mosaics
· Allowance for offsetting image on matrix
· Adjustable low-pass filtering of colour
· Adjustable high-pass filtering of luminance
· Adjustable image brightness
· Apply same conversion settings to a batch of images
· View raw image, colour version, or luminance (grayscale) only
· Output in various formats for post-processing, including FIT, TIF, BMP
When you start ArtemisRGB, you will see the main image preview area
occupying most of the window. On the left is a list which will contain the names
of all the images to be processed.
Above this are some controls for specifying how the processing is performed,
and at the bottom are buttons for dealing with files.
Artemis RGB screen
To import a file, click the ‘Import’ button and locate a FITs file produced by a
color camera. The name of the file will appear in the list box on the left, and the
image will appear in the preview window. It may not look quite right at this
stage! The ‘Delete’ button can be used to remove an image from the list - it
does not delete it from the hard disk. At the top left is a combo box where you
can select whether to view the raw, colour, or luminance image. The raw image
will show you the checkerboard matrix pattern, but for now we want to see the
color image. Below this combo box is another one in which you can select
whether the CCD uses a primary (RGB) or secondary (CYMG) matrix. The Atik
Series 3 Color uses an RGB matrix; If you saved the file from a recent version
of Artemis Capture, the colors should already be correct.
Otherwise you can try adjusting the X and Y offset values, which tell
ArtemisRGB where on the matrix the top left corner of the image lies. For a fullscreen image in the standard orientation these values ought to be 0, 0 - but if
the image has been rotated or flipped then the values will need adjusting. With
a bit of trial and error you should find values that give the correct colors.
Most deep sky targets are very faint, and because ArtemisRBG doesn’t have
any histogram stretching tools, a “Brightness” selection is available, which will
allow you to increase the image brightness. This will help to better see the
object in the image, but won’t change the image in any way, since it’s for display
purposes only.
Because some information is lost when the CCD samples the signal into
different colors, reconstructing the full color image can sometimes introduce
colors which weren’t present in the original scene. These are typically seen in
regions of high contrast. To help reduce these false color artifacts, you can run
a low-pass filter (blur) on the color channel. Then, to restore sharpness to the
image, you can run a high-pass filter (sharpen) on the luminance channel.
If you have multiple images loaded into ArtemisRGB, you can give each one its
own set of processing options if you need to. In particular if some images were
saved from a sub frame, then you may need to give them different X or Y
offsets. If you make a multiple selection in the image list, the controls at the top
of the program will indicate any values which are common to all selected
images. If values differ between images then they will be displayed as ‘---’ in the
controls. Changing any value will update that value in all selected images - this
can be a quick way to set the processing parameters for a batch of images.
Finally, when you have set all your images as you like them, you can use the
‘Save All’ button to convert all the images to a file format suitable for postprocessing. You can choose to save as separate Red, Green and Blue FITs
files, or a single 3-layer FITs file, or a 48-bit uncompressed TIFF file, or a 24-bit
BMP file. The last option will lose information, but is more compact and more
widely used than the other formats. When using the first option each image is
saved under its original filename, with _R, _G or _B appended to indicate the
color channel.
1.11 Other controls
There are a few other controls apart from the dialogs described above. The
most important are probably the ‘Camera |Snapshot’ and ‘Camera |Loop’ menu
options, also available as the two toolbar buttons (the ‘loop’ button is the one
with the red circular arrow on it). The Snapshot command takes a single image,
and the Loop command starts the program taking repeated images. You can
abort the current exposure by clicking the Snapshot button while the exposure
is in progress. If you want to terminate the exposure early but keep the result,
hold the shift key down while you click the Snapshot button. When looping, you
can stop the whole looping process by clicking the Loop button again. The
current exposure will be aborted. You can change exposure settings while
looping, but they will not be acted upon until the start of the next exposure.
‘Camera |Subframe’ or the red square toolbar button allows you to drag an
imaging sub-frame using the left mouse button, which is normally used to scroll
the display. You can always use the right mouse button to create a sub-frame.
The green square toolbar button, or the ‘Camera |Fullframe’ option, will revert to
using the full CCD area for imaging.
‘Camera |Rotate 180’ will rotate captured images 180 degrees. This also rotates
the saved image.
‘Camera |Info’ gives some details of the Atik camera.
‘Camera |Connect’ and ‘Camera |Disconnect’ will connect or disconnect the Atik
‘File |Image header’ allows you to specify the target object, telescope, and
observer name for recording in the header of saved FITs files.
‘File |Open image’ allows you to open a previously saved image in FITS format.
This can be useful to check if the previous image(s) in a sequence is of good
quality, for example. It also allows to create markers for alignment in future
sessions (see 1.9).
The ‘Quick’ menu options allow you to take an instant snapshot at a variety of
exposures and binning levels, with a single click or key press.
2 Maxim DL™ plug-in
Maxim DL is an astronomical program, from Diffraction Limited. It is able to
control most of the equipment used in astronomical imaging, as well as
processing the captured images. In order to allow Maxim DL to communicate
with a new piece of hardware, a driver is required to be installed in a location
known to Maxim DL.
The driver files for the Atik cameras is installed during the initial camera setup (if
you selected to install it). If you don’t have the plug in installed yet, just re-run
the setup application and select it when prompted. Be aware that you will need
to have Maxim DL installed first.
Using the Plug-in
Once the driver is installed, you can start up Maxim DL and open the CCD
Control Window - either by pressing Ctrl+W or by selecting menu option
View|CCD Control Window. There may be a short pause while Maxim DL build
up a list of available camera drivers, and then you will see the camera setup
In the box headed 'Main CCD Camera', click the 'Setup' button, and in the
dialog which appears scroll down the 'Camera Model' list until you find the
“ArtemisHSC” camera.
Once selected, press connect and you
should have a box similar to the one
on the right. Keep in mind that, as on
the Artemis Captures application, the
cooler is off by default. You need to
turn it on by pressing the “Cooler On”
button. To turn it off, press the “Cooler
Off” button.
Working with Color Cameras
Maxim DL has some useful tools for working
with Colour cameras. Under the menu
“Color”, select “Convert RGB”.
On this window, you will need to check X an
Y offsets, to match the Bayer patterns on the
sensors, as well as the High quality Debayer
You can also adjust colour scaling and
background levels, or you can leave those
parameters to be adjusted later.
3 AstroArt Plug-in
AstroArt is an astronomical program, from MSB. It is able to control most of the
equipment used in astronomical imaging, as well as processing the captured
images. In order to allow AstroArt to communicate with a new piece of
hardware, a driver is required to be installed in a location known to AstroArt.
The driver file for the Atik camera is installed during the initial camera setup (if
you selected to install it). If you don’t have the plug in installed yet, just re-run
the setup application and select it when prompted. Be aware that you will need
to have AstroArt installed first.
Using the Plugin
Once the driver and user interface files have been copied to the correct
directory, you can start up AstroArt and open the CCD Control panel by
selecting menu option
Tools|Plugin Commands|CCD Camera
All being well you will see the camera setup dialog, at the left of which is a dropdown list of supported camera types. Select "ArtemisHSC" in this box, and then
click "Check CCD" to connect to the camera.
If you need to find out more about how to use AstroArt for imaging there is
plenty of information, and some tutorials, available from the AstroArt 'Help'
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