Astronomical Observing From the Red Zone

AstroToaster Help

The AstroToaster is an application for performing Near Real Time observing using a DSLR or CCD camera.

It stacks images as they are taken, presents them in a simple effective viewer.

The stacking is performed using the DeepSkyStacker software

Stacking Engine.

Deeepskystacker is a freeware program by Luc Coiffier, and can be downloaded from ""

The help and user instructions that come with it are very well written and useful.

There is a yahoo group for it, and you can find knowledgeable users on many online forums.

I have done my testing and development on DSS version 3.3.2, and 3.3.4 under windows xp, service pack 3.

I have tested it briefly on windows Vista and windows 7

My hardware is an HP laptop with 2 CPU's 1.6ghz and 3gig of ram.

The Operation and work flow are similar to DeepSkyStackerLive.

The camera drops files into a 'Monitoring' folder, they are automatically processed and continuously stacked and updated into a viewer window.

- You can use darks/flats, etc.

- Color adjustments for levels, curves, are re-applied

automatically to the refreshed image in the viewer.

- Performs a continuous complete align and restack of the

data as it is acquired, instead of just a running average.

- The user has control over the images being stacked,

- You can view and tweek images taken earlier in the session

while acquiring new images.


AstroToaster Controls


Monitor - Automatically Monitors the 'Monitoring' folder,

registers and calibrates images

( when Monitoring is turned on the Stack, Single, and

Refresh controls will run in automatic mode )

Stack - Aligns and Stacks the current image group as new

images are acquired.

Single - fully processes the last Single image ( this is

instead of stacking )

Refresh – Automatically Refreshes the Viewer, as a new

stacked or Single image is created

Stop - Turns off all Automatic processing


Refresh - Manually Causes Refresh of Picture,


Viewer - Image viewer on/off

Full - Full screen image viewer on/off

ColorAdj - Color adjustments dropdown menu on/off

(only while in the Viewer )

NewStack - Starts a New Stack

FileList – organize and quick view the Images being stacked

Camera – ASCOM Camera Control and Capture

RSync – Remote Folder Synchronization

Help - Help/UserGuide/Faq/About

Quit - Exit from the application


Processing statusBar the colored progress bar

on top the right hand side.

Blue/Green – normal

Yellow – slow

Red – even slower

Brown – not enough stars detected

The TitleBar of the Main window and Viewer also has

additional processing information, including

image size and star count

( see notes in USER GUIDE about performance,

image size and star counts )


Drop Down Menus



PictureFiles - Manually select picture files

CalibrationFiles - Manually select calibration files

( darks, flats, offsets )

Picture Scale - 1.0 is the default, (no resize is done),

.75x Scales the image by 75%

.75T Trims the image by 75%

Select Best “Percent” - Select the acceptable image

quality percentile to stack .

Stacking Limit –Limits stacking to the ‘last’ x frames

ex. if ‘5`was chosen it will stack the last 5

frames taken.

None’ is the default, it will stack all frames

in the current group

Star Detection Threshold - Select Star Detection

Threshold, for Registering Stars used for alignment

during stacking.

Select ‘Auto’ to have the program automatically

select the optimal Star Threshold

( see DSS User Guide Star Threshold for documentation

Dark Frame Factor - If using Dark calibration files,

adjusts the power of the dark frame subtraction.

( see DSS Dark Multiplication Factor )

HotPix Detect - Detects and removes Hot Pixels

Use lower values if possible, since higher values will

create artifacts, and use more system resources

StackingMode – Select the Stacking Mode, Default,

KappaSigAvg, RunningAVg, MultiSpectrum, Comet.

Hide Viewer Boarder – Hides the windows boarder on the

viewer window.

Image Message Text – Text to display under image

Image Text checkbox – Displays text and status under image

Image Text Font – Font of image text

ReCalibrateStack - Initiates complete reprocessing of all

the ‘checked’ images for the Current stack

ReCalibrate Darks - Initiates reprocessing of all darks into

MasterDarks (all ‘checked’ darks )

(Will also process all Offsets, Flats, DarkFlats into

Masters )

ReStack – Re-Stacks all ‘checked’ images for the current


UnCheckAll – UnChecks all image files in the list

Settings – Opens the settings screen for application options

and settings.

HideStacks, UnHide - Hide/UnHide (and unchecks) all the

stacks in the Filelist


Files List Items context menu

( select an item or items and right click to access menu)

Click - on file to display in viewer

File type – change to Dark, Flat, Light, RefLight, Offset

Check, Uncheck - toggle check box

Hide, UnHide Stack - Hide/UnHide (and unchecks)the

highlighted stack in the Filelist

ExpViewer – view file with extended viewer modes

DisplayLabel – additional text to display on an item

OpenWith – open highlighted item with the selected program

or image editor (requires windows Vista or greater)

Copy – copy file to clipboard

Remove – Removes file from list (does not harm the file )

Delete – Permanently Deletes file from list and file system


Color Adjustments

Red Green Blue sliders for basic color adjustments

Black - Adjusts the lower Black level

White - Adjusts the upper White level

Contrast - Adjusts contrast

Brightness - Adjusts overall brightness

Colorfulness - adjusts the color Saturation

Tint - Adjusts the overall tint

Sharpen - Adjusts the Sharpens of the image

(Note: Only for Windows Vista, win7,8,10)


Expand - Expands the luminance of dim objects

and nebulosity and in the image

LensGrad - basic lens gradient correction

SkyGrad - basic sky gradient correction

SGAngle - sky gradient angle

ColorProfile – WB+ ( extra White Balance ) rgbSHO/SHO

(Hubble Profile), rgbHOO/HOO ( Ha-OIII Profile).

Apply - Applies adjustments chosen for Expand and

Gradients, ColorProfile to the image.

AutoExp – Automatically calculates Expand and viewing adjustments


Negative - invert the colors and intensity

Logarithmic - mild luminance expand

ColorChannel – display individual Color channels

Red, Green, Blue as Greyscale

Rot – Rotate the Image

Flip - Flip the Image

Zoom - +/- change image size

( Mouse wheel will also zoom )

Crop - Viewer Crops and zooms to the selected

Rectangle, ( Click ‘Crop’ control again

To reset the picture size )

Reset - Resets all viewer settings

Open - open an image

Save - Save the current image

Hint: To adjust images of faint objects, first use the

Expand tool to give the image a fairly bright washed

out look, then use Brightness, Contrast and Black to

trim it back into more pleasing view.

Hint: For fine adjustments of colorAdj sliders, you can use either the keyboard arrow keys, or the Mouse Wheel



Picture type/extension - select picture type that the

camera places in the monitor folder

Monitor Folder - indicate folder to monitor for new

camera images

Output Folder - folder to place stacked output images

DeepSky program Folder - folder where the DeepSky

program resides

Fits SuperPixels – Use SuperPixels for translation of

Fits Bayer raw files. Generates smaller image

files with better color properties.

Fits File Bayer – Use Fits settings from image file

header to override DSS settings for Bayer raw

translation.(if imagefile has this information)

Grey Screen Theme – use grey Screen Colors them,

If unchecked uses default windows Colors

Set CPU Priority – Sets CPU priority for AstroToaster

processing tasks. (default is 1 = belowNormal)

Refresh Settings From DSS – Refresh Processing

Settings from DSS.

Apply Changes – Apply changes made to settings

Cancel Changes – Cancel changes made to settings

Session Delete Temp Files – remove temporary files used

by the Application and DSS processing.

Session ReStackAll - Reprocesses all the image Stacks

for all the files (will AutoDetect the stacks)

Session Delete All Files – remove ALL files from the

Monitor folder, include source image files


Viewer Window

Pan – Mouse Left Click and hold on image, to pan the view

in the display in viewer

Zoom – You can use the Mouse Wheel to zoom on the image

ReSize window – Mouse Left Click and hold on viewer window

boarder to resize the viewer

HideToolBars - In Viewer, Mouse Double Left Click to Hide

the toolbars. Double click again to make them reappear


Stacking Mode Window (new, version 3.0)

Default – use stacking mode selected in DSS

(DSS Settings->StackingSettings->StackingParam->Light)

KappaSigAvg – DSS Kappa-Sigma clipping + optimizations

RunningAverage – DSS Average stacking + optimizations,

is faster and uses less cpu and disk resources

MultiSpec – for use with Mono Cameras, allows for processing

and combining of multiple filtered color channels

ComentOnly – uses DSS Comet Only stacking to display the

Comet with star trails

Comet_Stars – uses DSS Comet with Stars Stacking to

dispaly the Comet with stars in background

OK – saves stacking mode and exits the window

For processing to take effect you may need to apply

the ‘NewStack’ or ‘ReStack’ buttons

Cancel – Cancel stacking mode changes.

Multispec Options

Channels – filter Red, Green, Blue, LUM, HA, OIII, SII, NII

Check the filter channels you will be using

Select color you want the channel displayed as

from the dropdown,

Red, Green, Blue channel maps to single color

Blue+Green, Red+Blue, Green+Red maps to both Colors

LUM replaces the image’s Luminance with the Channel

LUM+ will add the Channel to the image’s luminance

Red+Lum, Blue+Lum, Green+Lum maps to color and lum+

Your Image’s file name must include channel name,

using the ‘_’ as a delimiter, examples…., maps to RED channel

Eagle_oiii_nebula.cr2 maps to OIII channel

ReApply Colors – applies any channel config changes to the

current data and image.

ReOrg FileList – Re-organize order in the Filelist so that

files in the same channel are grouped together.


Remote Folder Synchronize (new, version 3.0)

Browse - enter path of your Remote synchronization

folder to monitor. It can be a local folder,

network drive, or a Share path to a folder

another computer.

Include Remote Subfolders – synchronize remote subfolders

as well the main folder.

New files Only – synchronize new files only

Start Sync – Start remote folder synchronization

Stop Sync – Stop remote folder synchronization


Camera Control (new, version 3.0)

(The Camera Control feature is new, and is experimental, so may not work for your given camera.)

Camera – select your Ascom Camera.

Connect – connect to the selected Ascom Camera

Setup – modify and save changes to the camera configuration

Camera Name – displays the name of the selected camera

File name – enter a descriptive filename for your images

Monitor Folder – displays the current AstroToaster Monitor

folder name.

Seconds – Enter or select image exposure

duration in seconds

Repeat – Enter or select number of repeats of the


Delay – Enter or select number of seconds to delay

between exposures.

Start – Start Exposure sequence

Stop - Stop Exposure sequence, wait for current image

to complete.

Stop Now – Stop Exposure sequence Immediately don’t wait

for current image to complete.

New Stack – Start a new stack of images in AstroToaster

Live View – images will be viewed immediately in

Astrotoaster, images will not be stacked or saved.

Stacking – images will be saved and viewed in AstroToater

AstroToaster, with option to be stacked.

Darks – images will be saved and processed as Dark Frames

Flats – images will be saved and processed as Flat Frames

Ascom Camera settings and status

Display and enter camera settings where access

is allowed by the Ascom Interface

If not available or not working correctly here

try using the camera Ascom Setup to adjust the

the camera settings.

Gain – displays or sets the gain of the camera.

Bin – displays or sets the camera binning.

CoolerOn – turn cooling on/off, if the camera has cooling,

Cooling Rate – Degrees Centigrade per Minute to cool or

warm up the camera. Only needed if your camera

manufacturer indicates this in its user manual.

A value of ‘none’ turns off this option, and the

camera cooldown will be controlled by the camera’s


Target Temp – display or sets the cameras target cooling

temperature for the sensor( degrees Centigrade )

Cooler Power – displays the current camera cooler power

level (as a percent of the maximum power).

CCD Temp – displays the current sensor temperature

( degrees Centigrade )