(c) Skyhound

SkyTools 3 Professional Edition

The Professional Edition is for the astronomical imager, experienced visual observers who observe from a dark site or any serious observer who wants the very best in observing software. 

The Pro Edition includes all of the features of the Standard Edition plus a much deeper database, support for astro-imaging, and enhancements to many of the standard features. The Real Time telescope control tool is included. 

Pass your cursor over the screen capture on the left of NGC 7142 to see the the dramatic difference of the Pro Edition star database.

Exclusive Professional Edition Features

Imaging Session Planner  

The Imaging Planner supports deep sky, planetary, and lunar and solar imaging for astronomical CCDs, digital cameras, and video/web cams. Know with certainty when each object is best imaged.  

SkyTools planning is about helping you make the best imaging choices. Optimum sub-exposure times are suggested for image stacking and the final signal-to-noise ratio is estimated. The optimum period to image each object during the night is computed and displayed graphically:

Exposure Calculator / Imaging Laboratory 

The Exposure Calculator is a sort of experimental laboratory that you can use to get the most out of your images without having to use your telescope time to do the testing.

When planning an imaging session many questions crop up:

  • How far into twilight should I expose?  Which filter is least affected by twilight?

  • What will be the difference in my final image if I stack 5-minute sub-exposures rather than 30-minute subs?

  • Should I continue to observe after the moon rises?  If so, which filter is least affected by moonlight?

  • What order should I use for my filters?

  • How much would I gain by moving to a dark site?

  • What effect will poor seeing have on my final image?

  • How long can I image Jupiter tonight before the final stacked image will appear smeared from rotation?

  • What is the penalty, if any, for imaging Jupiter in daylight?

These questions are often answered approximately using "rules of thumb" handed down by experienced observers, either in person or via guide books. But there are many variables; what works best for one imaging setup under one set of observing conditions is often not best for another. The Exposure Calculator allows you to explore these "what if..." type questions for your setup and your conditions.  

Direct answers take the guess work out of imaging.

Imaging Context Viewer

This is a popup window for the Atlas that displays a simulated image taken with your camera and telescope. 

The camera FOV of the telescope is drawn on the atlas. The atlas provides the context of what you are looking at, while the viewer shows you what you can expect to record. 

Drag the viewer around on the atlas to preview various objects, or if connected to a telescope, the viewer will mark the position of the camera FOV . 

This tool is perfect for locating the correct field; readily compare a short exposure to the simulated image.  Drag the imaging FOV anywhere on the chart to test placement, and if a telescope is connected the telescope will follow!

Deepest Stellar Database 522 million stars  

Our unique database has stars down to 20th magnitude over the entire sky.  The highest quality data available is used, including UCAC and selected stars from USNO-B1.0 catalog. Unlike other software, double and variable star data is fully integrated.  Learn more

Real Time Telescope Control Included

This tool is like the Imaging Planner only for use at the telescope; targets are recommended in real time. Control a GOTO telescope or target objects for your DSC equipped mount.  Learn more

GPS Location Tool

Input your observing location directly from any GPS receiver with a standard NMEA interface.

Additional Image Download Selections

SDSS, IR, H-alpha, and 2MASS images are available for download for display in the chart backgrounds in addition to the standard DSS downloads. 

Minor Planets and Comets database search

Filter by minor planet type; find scattered disk or NEO objects that are observable.  Discover what comet that was that Grandma saw in 1928.

More Powerful Database Search

Search the SkyTools databases with even more powerful search parameters.

Imaging Session Planner


Exposure Calculator


Context Viewer


Database Power Search

Standard Features

Nightly Planner

There is no question that SkyTools is the premiere software for planning observations. It is clear from the start the the Nightly Planner was created by an avid astronomer who actively uses it himself. 

Choose one of over a hundred observing lists or create your own with the Nightly Observing List Generator, Database Power Search,  Designation Search, or import tool. 

Objects are rated by Visual Difficulty based on a complex model of the sky and your instrument.

True optimum viewing times are computed based on a complex model that considers object type, brightness, altitude, and the darkness of the sky.

Double-star pair splittablity ratings are computed based on a sophisticated model of your telescope, eye, and sky conditions.

Trim the list to only those objects appropriate for your conditions, your telescope, your expectations, and your selected night. 

Nightly Observing List Generator

Create observing lists customized for your conditions, telescope, and experience. 

Sky Events Planner

Calculate upcoming eclipses, conjunctions, transits, occultations, meteor showers, oppositions, greatest elongations, Jupiter satellite events, planetary satellite elongations, and more.   Learn more

Display upcoming events on a monthly sky event calendar or nightly events planner tool.

Observing Logbook

A major application in itself, the SkyTools logbook uses context and customizable presets to fill in as many fields as possible before you start writing. Browse logs by night, observer, location, telescope, etc. Search for log entries via multiple search criteria. Print or copy to the clipboard logs to satisfy the requirements for various observing awards.  Learn more

Interactive Atlas

SkyTools is often called a planner, but in fact it contains a fully functional charting app. The Interactive Atlas is like a fine atlas for your computer except you have complete control over how it looks and what is displayed.  Learn more

Custom Finder Charts for Binoculars and Telescopes

Three-view "star hopping" charts customized for your instrument will guide you to even the most difficult objects--no more hand-placing FOV circles! These charts use highly accurate simulations of the visibility of objects in the sky to make finding objects quick and easy. Learn more

Naked Eye and Overhead Sky Charts

Whether displayed on the screen or printed out, these charts simulate the naked-eye sky using an accurate scientific model that includes your local light pollution.

Visual Context Viewer

This is an utterly unique tool that places a simulated view of your telescope in a popup window on top of the Interactive Atlas. The FOV of the telescope is drawn on the atlas. The atlas provides the context of what you are looking at, while the viewer shows you what you can expect to see. 

Drag the view around on the atlas to preview various objects, or if connected to a telescope, the viewer will mark the position of the telescope with an FOV circle that is computed for the selected eyepiece.

If connected to a GOTO telescope you can move the telescope by dragging the FOV circle around on the atlas. 

Add Notes, Images, and Web Links to Objects

Assign content to any object. Type notes or paste them in. Create links to web sites or images on your hard drive. Share your content with other SkyTools users.  Learn more

Database Power Search

This is a very powerful tool for searching the extensive SkyTools databases.  Learn more

  • Find the most distant quasar visible in your telescope

  • Make an observing list of  edge-on galaxies

  • Find very red stars

  • List every dark nebula in a given constellation

  • And on and on...

Ephemeris Generator

  • Calculate the position of an object at regular intervals

  • List the optimum time to observe an object nightly

  • Calculate the position angle and separation for a long-period binary star

  • Plot any of these on a chart with a click of the mouse!

Download and Display DSS Images on Charts

Sometimes a picture can help you prepare to observe an object or confirm that you truly saw it. Right-click on a chart to download a Digital Sky Survey image for display in the chart background or automatically download images for all the objects in your observing list.

Current Data for Comets, Novae, and Supernovae 

Skyhound maintains observing lists with currently visible comets, novae, supernovae, and asteroids that make close approaches to the earth. These lists are easily downloaded from within SkyTools so you will always have current information.

The comet information in SkyTools is second to none. Other software or online sources can plot the position of a comet. But the magnitude and size data is often incorrect or misleading. Only SkyTools can give you accurate magnitudes and coma diameters because the author, who maintains the Comet Chasing web site, pulls together recent observations. Not only that, but he also developed a method to accurately predict the visibility of a comet in the eyepiece which is used by SkyTools (the magnitude alone is almost meaningless for comets). 

Double-Star Observing

Double star catalogs are notoriously error prone, but SkyTools includes the most complete and highly corrected double star database available. 

SkyTools supports double star observing with a variety of specialized tools.

  • When you zoom-in on a chart multiple stars split into component stars, including long-period binaries, plotted at the correct relative positions for the date.

  • Plan for double star observing using splittability predictions for your telescope, conditions, and night.

  • Search for double stars to view based on splittability or fixed separation and magnitude limits.

Thumbnail Viewer

Use this tool to visualize the objects in your observing list so they can be readily compared. Plot an array of thumbnail images of each object, either as they appear on an idealized atlas, or as simulations in your telescope.

SkyTools 3 Secrets: Ten Useful Things Other Software Can't Do

Nightly Planner


Nightly Observing List Generator


Nightly Events Planner


Naked Eye View / Chart


Three-View Finder Chart


Dark Nebula in Interactive Atlas


Comet at best time nightly in Binocular Chart


Mars in 2003


Printed Comet Chart (pdf)


Thumbnail Viewer