DSO Planner Overview

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DSO Planner is the astronomy observations' planning tool with excellent star charting capabilities. It is made by experienced amateur astronomers with a passion for visual observations. It has huge deep sky objects databases and provides an opportunity to create any number of user own object databases. DSO Planner boasts the largest star catalog among all Android astronomy applications (USNO UCAC4, 113 millions of stars in the DSO Planner Pro edition), making the identification of your eyepiece view a struggle of the past. It excels at creating observation plans on the fly, has powerful note taking capabilities, powerful objects databases features, allows observing information sharing, works with settings circles' PushTo and computerized GoTo telescopes, and provides the best night (red) mode user interface for Android devices.

The application has several editions: Pro, Plus, Basic and Free. Plus Edition has reduced size UCAC4 catalog (15.4 mn stars compared to 113 mn stars in Pro Edition) and PGC catalog size (153 000 galaxies compared to 1 600 000 galaxies in Pro Edition), otherwise it has all of the functionality of Pro Edition. Basic Edition has even more reduced databases of stars and objects and some limitations in functionality (you cannot create your own databases or objects). Free edition has only the brightest stars and objects and functionality close to that of Basic Edition.

Before installation please make sure that you have at least 2 GB for Pro Edition, 540 MB for Plus Edition and 100 MB for Basic Edition of free space on your internal SD card to download application databases! (Note: due to Google Play rules this data cannot be moved to your external SD card - you must have all this space on your internal SD card!).

Select features

(of the Pro edition, see above charts for other editions limitations)

  • Cross-match names database — Search objects by less common names.
  • Unique visibility tool — Only objects that are visible with selected equipment in the current sky conditions could be shown on the Star Chart (for objects from NGC/IC, SAC, PGC catalogs).
  • Comet support — Orbital elements of around 700 observable comets could be automatically updated via internet.
  • Custom catalogs — Unlimited capability to create fully searchable own catalogs.
  • Steve Gottlieb Notes — Famous notes attached to NGC/IC objects.
  • DSS imagery support — Download DSS images of any sky portion into offline cache and overlay it on the star chart.
  • Offline images — Integrated set of images of most NGC/IC objects (7 840 items), opportunity to add own images when creating custom catalogs.
  • Nebula contours — Contours of famous nebulae.
  • Object contours — Ellipse in real dimension and orientation.
  • Night mode — Fully red screen with red keyboard, menus, floating Android navigation buttons.
  • PushTo for dobsonian mounts with setting circles — Level your dobsonian mount and perform one star alignment. The program will automatically recalculate az/alt numbers to hunt objects easily.
  • GoTo — for Meade and Celestron controllers with bluetooth dongle.
  • Planning tool — Filter any objects database by observer location, sky condition, astronomical equipment, time range of observation and object features (type, dimension, magnitude, minimal altitude, visibility and other fields of own custom catalogs). Remove duplicate objects when searching in intersecting databases. Create up to 4 observation lists. Easily track observed and remaining to be observed objects with note taking tool.
  • Import tool — Import observation lists in Sky Safari and Sky Tools format. Use pre-compiled Night Sky Observer Guide observation lists.
  • Note taking — Take text and/or audio notes.
  • Observing places — GPS, manual coordinates, custom lists. Database with 24 000 cities worldwide.
  • Equipment — Keep track of all your telescopes and eyepieces. Use them for object visibility calculation and star charting. Use 500 popular eyepieces database.
  • Twilight calculator — Sun and Moon rise/transit/set time; Moon phase; civil, nautical and astronomical twilight on any date. Calculation of the full darkness for a current night and for a month ahead.
  • 2 visual themes — bright (black on white) and dark (white on black), plus - the night mode (dark red on black).
  • Powerful share/export/import capabilities — common tool for databases, observation lists, and notes.

Internal databases

Database Free Basic Plus Pro
Star Chart Layers
USNO UCAC4 (star) 15.4M to 14m 113M to 16m
Tycho-2 (star) 0.6M to 10.7m 2.5M to 12m 2.5M to 12m
Yale bright star catalog (star) 9 000 9 000 9 000 9 000
Yale bright star catalog (double star) 50 500 3 100 3 100
NGCIC/SAC (object) 230 3 100 14 400 14 400
PGC (Principal Galaxies Catalog) 153 000 1 600 000
Object databases
Messier 110 110 110 110
Caldwell 109 109 109 109
Herschel 400 219 400 400 400
NGCIC 230 3 100 12 000 12 000
SAC (Saguaro Astronomy Club database) 10 000 10 000
UGC (Uppsala General Catalogue of Galaxies) 13 000 13 000
PGC (not including NGCIC and UGC galaxies) 45 000 to 16M
Lynds dark nebula (Lynds' Catalogue of Dark Nebulae) 1 800 1 800
Lynds bright nebula (Lynds' Catalogue of Bright Nebulae) 1 100 1 100
Barnard (Barnard's Catalogue of Dark Objects) 350 350
SH2 (Catalogue of HII regions) 300 300
PK (Catalogue of Galactic Planetary Nebulae) 1 500 1 500
Abell (Catalogue of Abell Clusters of Galaxies) 2 700 2 700
Hickson Compact Group (Hickson Compact Group, cluster of galaxies) 100 100
Comets ~700 ~700 ~700
Minor Planets 500 10 000 10 000
WDS (The Washington Visual Double Star Catalog) 120 000 120 000
Brightest Double Stars 2 300 2 300

There are actually two types of star/object databases - usual object database optimized for efficient access and searching, and star chart layer database optimized for drawing Star Chart. Usual database could be used in Object Selection and Global Search, whereas star chart layers could be used in global search but not in Object Selection. Still there are enough tools to use the latter efficiently: you could limit the stars and objects displayed on the Star Chart by magnitude, object types and visibility in selected equipment.

Other databases Free Basic Plus Pro
Preinstalled NGCIC images 210 3 100 7 840 7 840
Database of cross-match names (other star / object designations) 1 700 72 000 233 000 233 000
Database of SAO star cross-match names No 254 000 254 000 254 000
Steve Gottlieb notes attached to NGCIC objects 230 3 100 7 900 7 900
Night Sky Observer Guide pre-compiled observation list (object) 3 900 3 900
24 000 cities worldwide Yes Yes Yes Yes
500 popular eyepieces database Yes Yes Yes

Other differences of editions

Feature Free Basic Plus Pro
Creation of custom (user) database Yes Yes
Adding a temporary user object to the observation list for a quick look up Yes Yes
DSS download in Star Chart limited Yes Yes Yes
Batch DSS download in Observation List Yes Yes Yes
Bluetooth GoTo Yes Yes Yes
Full darkness calculation Yes Yes Yes

Android Permissions explained

DSO Planner requires the following set of Android operating system facilities access permissions for its work:

  • Record Audio and Microphone - to enable Notes Taking module adding voice notes to your observations records.
  • Approximate location (network-based) and precise location (GPS and Network based) - for the Geographic Location module to gather your location coordinates automatically from the phone, as that's required for celestial bodies' ephemerides calculations.
  • Modify or delete the contents of your SD card and read the contents of your SD card - to save and load application's files, such as DSS images, comet databases, as well as to import/export user data in/out the app.
  • Full network access - to download comets updates and exchange in-app data over the network (Internet).
  • Google Play license check - obvious.
  • View network connections - to determine if establishing a network connection is at all possible for the pending data exchange (e.g. to serve the DSS image downloading request from the user). A reminder will be shown if the operation is impossible to complete due to the lack of connectivity. It could be resumed automatically if the connection is re-established with this permission granted.
  • Access Bluetooth settings and pair with Bluetooth devices - are required for the app being able to work with telescope GoTo mounts over the Bluetooth wireless communication channel, and to configure it for serial communications.
  • Control vibration - used as the force feedback for onscreen operations, like reporting that "the object was selected" on user tap. That's especially useful in the night mode, where visual feedback may be inefficient or better be avoided to preserve the dark adaptation.
  • Disable your screen lock, modify system settings, and prevent phone from sleeping - are required by the special feature of the Star Chart, which prevents the phone from turning off the screen (and engaging the lock screen mode if it is ON) after the system's defined timeout, overriding it temporarily only for the Star Chart's screen, so you can work with the Chart hands free as long as needed. The feature can be turned off in the Chart's settings. The original system settings for that timeout will be restored after exiting the app.