5 Free Linux Astronomical Data Analysis Tools
Astronomy is a branch of science that deals with the study of
celestial objects (including stars, planets, moons, comets, asteroids,
meteor showers, nebulae, star clusters, galaxies) and other
phenomena such as gamma ray bursts and supernovae.
Astronomy is particularly well suited to the layperson. It is
a wonderful hobby which has almost no age limits, it is open to
individuals of all financial means, and there is always the potential
for an amateur to discover something that has eluded professional
astronomers, or to help monitor stars and track asteroids. Professional
astronomers are in a very fortunate profession. They have the
opportunity to continue their love of astronomy, travel the world, make
significant discoveries, and get paid at the same time.
Professional astronomers spend far more of their time
analysing data and writing articles than actually observing celestial
objects. Amateur astronomers are also keen to analyse the data they
collated. Software that can process and analyse images is therefore
essential to astronomers. Fortunately, high performance scientific
software has always been a strong area for Linux.
Flexible Image Transport System (FITS) is a digital file
format used to store, transmit, and manipulate scientific and other
images. FITS is the most commonly used digital file format in
To provide an insight into the quality of software that is
available, we have compiled a list of 5 high quality open source tools
to analyse astronomical data. Hopefully, there will be something of
interest here for both professional and amateur astronomers.
We give our highest recommendation to IRAF. This is a huge and
exceptionally capable astronomical analysis system with an excellent
programming environment with a complete compiled language, and has been
in development for decades. It has received many authoritative
contributions from professional astronomers in different fields of
astronomical data analysis.
In development terms, MYRaf is right at the other end of the
spectrum, with an initial release of code only made available this
week. Whilst we normally only select mature software for inclusion in
our Group Test articles, MYRaf shows promise and is worth investigating.
Now, let's explore the 5 astronomical data analysis software
at hand. For each title we have compiled its own portal page, a full
description with an in-depth analysis of its features, a screenshot of
the software in action, together with links to relevant resources and
|Astronomical Data Analysis
||Image Reduction and Analysis Facility
for celestial mechanics investigations
||Astronomical imaging and data visualization application
and analyze astronomical data; layered on top of IRAF
||Qt4 graphical interface for IRAF
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Last Updated Thursday, October 25 2012 @ 03:38 PM EDT