How to automate the preparation of Seestar images for HOYS upload

As a follow up to Mark Phillips’ Lightcurve of the Week 262, which focused on utilizing the ZWO Seestar scope for data capture, I have developed a small Python program to streamline the preparation of data obtained from the Seestar using Siril.

This program splits each image into Red (R), Green (G), and Blue (B) channels. It then updates the FITS header to comply with the requirements of the HOYS data server, renames the files, and places them into a designated directory ready for uploading.

For instance, where multiple targets are imaged in a single night, each image undergoes processing consecutively. This entire process is both simple and fast, taking less than a minute to prepare six files for upload.

For detailed instructions on setting up and installing this automation process, see below and also in the HOYS FAQs.

Instructions

One time set up Windows

  1. Install Siril
  2. Install python 3.9 from windows store
  3. Install astropy package that contains key functionality and common tools needed for performing astronomy – on your computer open a command window and type pip install astropy
    – You may need to run the command window as administrator. Instructions on how to do this can be found here.
  4. Create a folder for processing HOYS data, e.g. SeestarHOYS. (** it is important that path for this folder does not contain any spaces in the folder names**)
  5. Extract the 2 files in this zip file to the HOYS folder above (step 4).
  6. In the HOYS folder create a new folder called lights

Processing Seestar data

Copy data from the Seestar to your computer

In the directory you created above for the HOYS data, copy all the stacked Seestar files you want to process to the lights directory (delete any files from earlier processing).

How to access the Seestar stacked files:

  1. Connect your Seestar to your computer via the provided USB cable and power on
  2. Your Seestar should appear as a drive on your computer
  3. Open this drive and then open the MyWork folder
  4. For each target there should be 2 folders <target name> and <target name-sub>, eg M42 and M42-sub. The stacked file will be in the <target name> folder, eg M42
  5. Copy the stacked file with the fit file type ,eg Stacked_m42_10s_IRCUT……fit to the lights folder created above.
  6. You can repeat this process to move all your Seestar stacked files to your PC that are ready to be uploaded to the HOYS data server

Prepare the Seestar data for upload to the HOYS data server

  1. On your computer
  2. Open a command window navigate to the SeestarHOYS folder you created above
  3. type python seestarhoys.py
    1. This small python program will set your siril working directory to your SeestarHOYS directory
    2. Each file in the Lights folder will be processed in turn.
    3. Enter the HOYS target number when prompted. This is optional but makes it easier when uploading data to the Data Server.
    4. The FITS header will be updated to show the total exposure time for this stacked image (i.e. individual exposure time times the number of frames in the stack)
    5. Each R,G and B file will be renamed to the following format<HOYS target number>_<target name>_<Filter>_<total exposure time>_<date time>_<HH:MM:SS to ensure unique ID>
      E.g. 003_M_42_TR_670s_2024-01-18T20-57-02_175317
    6. Each R,G and B file will be moved to a folder called HOYS
    7. This process is repeated for each file in the Lights folder
  4. When complete, all of the individual R,G,B files will be in the HOYS directory and are ready to upload to the HOYS data server.

Pat Devine