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Developer(s)The Astropy Collaboration
Stable release
5.3.3[1] Edit this on Wikidata / 7 September 2023; 13 days ago (7 September 2023)
Written inPython, C
Operating systemCross-platform
TypeTechnical computing
LicenseBSD-new license

Astropy is a collection of software packages written in the Python programming language and designed for use in astronomy.[2] The software is a single, free, core package for astronomical utilities due to the increasingly widespread usage of Python by astronomers, and to foster interoperability between various extant Python astronomy packages.[3] Astropy is included in several large Python distributions; it is part of package managers for Linux and macOS,[4][5][6] the Anaconda Python Distribution, Enthought Canopy and Ureka.[7]


Around the turn of the millennium the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) started development of Python-based utilities to extend or substitute existing astronomical data analysis tools on a modern, object-oriented platform. Among the first projects were a replacement of the command language for the Image Reduction and Analysis Facility (IRAF) with a Python frontend,[8] and the PyFITS interface to the Flexible Image Transport System.[9] Since the existing Numeric module for handling vectors and arrays in Python turned out to be inadequate for large astronomical datasets, a new library better tuned for large array sizes was subsequently developed at STScI. Both libraries were merged into a new array package by Travis Oliphant in 2005–2006, creating NumPy, now the de facto standard for numerical data handling in Python.[10] In the following years the existing software packages maintained by STScI as part of their stsci_python suite were ported to NumPy as well. This, together with the more extensive SciPy computing environment, provided a platform to develop customized scripts and applications for a variety of astronomical tasks.

By 2011, the use of Python in astronomy had reached significant levels. At the 2012 Astronomy meeting, 42% of attendees preferred Python according to an informal survey.[3] Many astronomy-related Python packages have been developed over the years, albeit without cooperation or coordination, which led to duplication and difficult interoperability between packages. There was also no easy way to install all the required packages needed in an astronomer’s toolkit. A number of smaller packages are sometimes no longer maintained or unavailable. The Astropy project started in 2011, motivated by these difficulties, and a desire to unite developers in astronomy to coordinate the development of a unified set of Python modules for astronomers, and reduce the confusion of available packages.[2]

The Space Telescope Science Institute, operators of the Hubble Space Telescope, are merging the work on Astropy into stsci_python releases. PyFITS and PyWCS will be maintained solely within Astropy, with separate releases of these packages stopping, after the next release. PyFITS has been included as part of the Astropy project, and as a result, the next release of STScI_Python will depend on Astropy for the PyFITS library instead of using this standalone release.[11]


Video sources[edit]

There are several videos recorded in seminars and conferences. These are intended to help beginners learn how Astropy works. The .Astronomy 4 meeting (9–11 July 2012) held a session on Astropy.[18]

Core functionality[edit]

Core data structures and operations

  • Generalized container classes for representing gridded and tabular data as multidimensional arrays or tables[19]
  • Unit and physical quantity conversions
  • Physical constants specific to astronomy
  • Celestial coordinate and time transformations
  • World coordinate system (WCS) support, implementing PyWCS, the Python wrapper to WCSLIB. WCSLIB is a C library which implements the WCS standard in the Flexible Image Transport System (FITS) standard.[20][21]

File I/O

Computational utilities

Affiliated packages[edit]

A major part of the Astropy project is the concept of "affiliated packages”. An affiliated package is an astronomy-related Python package that is not part of the astropy core but has been suggested for inclusion as part of the project’s community. Such packages are intended to improve reuse, interoperability, and interface standards for Python astronomy and astrophysics packages. Current affiliated packages include:[23]

  • montage-wrapper
  • ginga
  • APLpy
  • astroML: tools for machine learning and data mining in astronomy
  • Astropysics: library of IDL astronomy routines converted to Python.
  • astroplan: observation planning for astronomers

A few additional affiliated packages are currently in development, including:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Release 5.3.3". 7 September 2023. Retrieved 18 September 2023.
  2. ^ a b Astropy Collaboration (2013). "Astropy: A community Python package for astronomy". Astronomy & Astrophysics. 558: A33. arXiv:1307.6212. Bibcode:2013A&A...558A..33A. doi:10.1051/0004-6361/201322068. S2CID 26378335.
  3. ^ a b Simpson, Robert A.; et al. (2013). "Unproceedings of the Fourth .Astronomy Conference, Heidelberg, Germany, July 9–11 2012". arXiv:1301.5193 [astro-ph.IM].
  4. ^ "Package: python-astropy (0.2.4-3)". Debian.
  5. ^ "py-astropy 0.2.5". MacPorts.
  6. ^ "astropy-py33". Fink.
  7. ^ "Ureka Sources". Gemini Observatory/Space Telescope Science Institute.
  8. ^ Greenfield, P.; White, R. L. (2000). "A New CL for IRAF Based On Python". ASP Conference Series. 216: 59. Bibcode:2000ASPC..216...59G. ISBN 1-58381-047-1.
  9. ^ Barrett, P. E.; Bridgman, W. T. (2000). "PyFITS, a Python FITS Module". ASP Conference Series. 216: 67. Bibcode:2000ASPC..216...67B. ISBN 1-58381-047-1.
  10. ^ "History of SciPy". Archived from the original on 2013-11-12.
  11. ^ "STScI_Python 2.14 Release Notes". Space Telescope Science Institute.
  12. ^ Tody, D.; Fitzpatrick, M. J.; Graham, M.; Young, W. (2013). "Scripting the Virtual Observatory in Python" (PDF). American Astronomical Society Meeting Abstracts. 221: #240.34. Bibcode:2013AAS...22124034T.
  13. ^ "Subaru Telescope HSC Wide Field Corrector completed".
  14. ^ "AStute".
  15. ^ Roehlly, Y.; Burgarella, D.; Buat, V.; Boquien, M.; Ciesla, L.; Heinis, S. (2013). "pcigale: porting Code Investigating Galaxy Emission to Python". Astronomical Data Analysis Software and Systems Xxiii. 485: 347. arXiv:1309.6366. Bibcode:2014ASPC..485..347R.
  16. ^ Singer, L. P.; et al. (2013). "Discovery and redshift of an optical afterglow in 71 square degrees: iPTF13bxl and GRB 130702A". The Astrophysical Journal Letters. 776 (2): L34. arXiv:1307.5851. Bibcode:2013ApJ...776L..34S. doi:10.1088/2041-8205/776/2/L34. S2CID 16420599.
  17. ^ Allen, A.; et al. (2013). "Using the Astrophysics Source Code Library". American Astronomical Society Meeting Abstracts. 221: #240.01. Bibcode:2013AAS...22124001A.
  18. ^ ".Astronomy 4". Archived from the original on 2012-12-09. Retrieved 2012-07-11.
  19. ^ "ATPy". Retrieved 2013-11-05.
  20. ^ Greisen, E. W.; Calabretta, M. R. (2002). "Representations of world coordinates in FITS". Astronomy and Astrophysics. 395 (3): 1061–1076. arXiv:astro-ph/0207407. Bibcode:2002A&A...395.1061G. doi:10.1051/0004-6361:20021326. S2CID 3248582.
  21. ^ Mark Calabretta. "WCSLIB". CSIRO Australia Telescope National Facility. Retrieved 15 November 2013.
  22. ^ "PyFITS". Space Telescope Science Institute. Archived from the original on 2015-07-26.
  23. ^ The Astropy collaboration (2012). "About affiliated packages". astropy. Retrieved 6 November 2013.

External links[edit]


Books and scientific publications citing Astropy