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This page lists free software used by amateur astronomers around the world to control their hardware.

Telescope or astronomy devices control

There are nearly as many different astronomical set-ups as astronomers. Lots of devices are required in a set-up, and many of each type exist. Many are not supported by free software. A hardware compatibility list is being done here.

Acquisition software generally have to handle high-end cameras, DLSR and focusers. Autoguiding software generally have to handle low-end cameras and telescope motorisations, possibly focusers too. They make very different tasks and address a large range of devices.

Multiple functionality software

See Ekos, GoQat and Audela.

Telescope control: Autoguiding

See OpenPHD Guiding, GoQat, Ekos for KStars which is using lin_guider's code. Qastrocam-g2 also has a guiding capability. What else?

Telescope control: GoTo

GoTo functionality is generally managed by cartography software.

Image acquisition

The others has a list of software supporting each camera. Examples are GoQat for QSI cameras and Gphoto2 for DSLR.

INDI-compatible cameras can be used with Ekos and CCDciel.

cccd is a simple astronomical CCD controller. It supports TSNK-lab ICX285AL cameras, QHY5, QHY6, QHY9, QHY8L, DSI2PRO, DSLR. Last version released in June 2017.

Qastrocam-g2: capture and simple guiding software for astronomy, using V4L2 acquisition. It also supports QHY5 and QHY6 cameras in release 4.9. Not maintained since 2013.

XmCCD is a camera capturing tool for Apogee Alta and SBIG cameras, supporting their filter wheel, compatible with INDI. It displays captured images in DS9.

oaCapture is a recently created free software that features V4L2 capturing in a Qt application. It provides many image capture controls, can demosaic images and save them in SER files. Support for other cameras than V4L2 has been introduced (ZWO ASI, QHY5, QHY6, SX Lodestar, Atik ATK-16 and The Imaging Source), as well as filter wheels on Linux (Xagyl and Starlight Xpress) and it also works on Mac OS X.

Planetary Imager is a software for planetary imaging. Its goal is to be able to get a simple, fast imaging software on Linux platforms, where there are really few reliable applications. Currently supports V4L2, ZWO and QHY devices.

Another emerging acquisition software is CCDciel, by Patrick Chevalley, the author of Cartes du ciel or SkyChart. It is multi-platform and INDI or Ascom capable. It can control the CCD/CMOS camera, focuser, filter wheel, rotator and telescope mount and uses image resolving software such astrometry.net for accurate positioning.

Other devices

Filter wheels, focusers, domes and so on. The Hardware compatibility list lists the software supporting each devices. Multiple functionality software could handle them too.

Standardization initiatives and remote telescopes systems

Some projects do not focus only on one particular device or even type of device, and provide abstraction layers or even try to standardize the way astronomical programs communicate with each other and with devices. An example of such an abstraction layer would be the Ascom Initiative on Windows platforms.

INDI is such a project for all kinds of devices. It is getting very popular and many devices already have INDI support. Before developing INDI, the author, Elwood C. Downey of ClearSky Institute, developed Talon, a free software for automated observatories. It seems that the project is quite dead since there is no web page about it except the old sourceforge link.

Another software for autonomous observatories, the Remote Telescope System (RTS2, now on github), also developed an abstract device layer, enabling control of all possible combinations of mounts, CCDs, photometers, roof and cupola controllers. It is also used in several observatories around the planet.

Unicap is a way to access imagery devices, it doesn't seem to be used by many or actively developed anymore.


File format is also an important concern. Having a way to store a sequence of images in one file is very handy, in particular for planetary streams that have thousands of pictures. The SER file format aims to give a simple and strong base for uncompressed capture and processing systems for astronomy.