With snow falling in Norwich yesterday and our advent calendars out this morning, we’re feeling a little festive. So, although it might not be Christmas for another few weeks, we’d like to give you a little gift – we’ve made our Infinity software compatible with our full range of 4-Series cameras and it’s completely free to download as part of our core software.
We know, we know, about time, you’re probably thinking. When we made Infinity, it was with a seamless video astronomy experience in mind. The Atik Infinity camera has a specially designed circuit board that prioritises read speed at the sake of a little noise. What’s more, the 1.4MP images it produces are exceptionally well suited to a near-real time environment, while still filling a standard computer monitor. Its 11mm diagonal and 6.45 µm pixels also make it suitable for a huge range of setups, including longer focal lengths. This encapsulates the ethos of the Infinity – not just to bring the night sky to a screen in seconds, but to make an optimised video astronomy experience accessible to as many people as possible.
While on the surface it seems simple to open up the software and bring it to more people than ever, there have always been a number of performance considerations involved. The largest two are download speeds and processing times, but also issues such as cooling control, subframing and guiding control. You might already be aware of the Beta program we’ve been running to test 4-series compatibility with the software. As part of this, we’ve built in cooling control to Infinity, but subframing and guiding we’re still leaving to other software packages, like our Artemis Capture software. We’ve had such great feedback from our testers that we’re happy to be able to roll out the software to full release.
Some Technical Considerations
While we can do our best to speed things up in software, your 4-Series camera has a download time linked to the megapixel count of the sensor. It roughly follows that one megapixel will take around a second to download. If you’re using an Atik 414EX, images may take around 1/1.5 seconds to download, which although isn’t the 2fps of the Infinity, it still doesn’t feel like so long.
However, using an Atik 490EX, for example, will take around 9 seconds to download the image, the Atik 4120EX, about 12 seconds. What kind of experience this provides will depend on your personal preferences and what you’re looking to achieve. If you’re looking for a fast video astronomy experience without compromising on resolution, you might want to consider the Atik Horizon instead. That’s a 16MP camera, but we can take advantage of its CMOS sensor to have extremely fast readout speeds. However, if you’re looking for the high sensitivity and broad compatibility that comes with a larger pixel size, you might want to stick with the Atik Infinity camera after all.
Observe Now, Process Later
Infinity can also save each image as a FITS file that you can go on and process later on. So you might want to use Infinity not so much for near-live imaging, but more as imaging preview software. You can take long exposures to process later, but they’ll also be added to the stack as they complete, giving you an idea of what your final image might look like as you go along.
It’s also worth noting that larger image sizes and megapixel counts take a little longer to process on the fly. In the Advanced Settings menu you’ll find an option called Show Updating. By checking this, you can also see when the software is updating the image so you always know what’s going on.
We’d love to hear how you get on with the 4-Series in Infinity. Feel free to drop as an email, join the forum, or get in touch over social media to share your experience.