Astronomical Coordinate Systems (
coordinates package provides classes for representing a
variety of celestial/spatial coordinates, as well as tools for
converting between common coordinate systems in a uniform way.
The simplest way to use
coordinates is to use the
SkyCoord objects are instantiated with a flexible and natural
approach that supports inputs provided in a number of convenient
formats. The following ways of initializing a coordinate are all
>>> from astropy import units as u >>> from astropy.coordinates import SkyCoord >>> c = SkyCoord(ra=10.625*u.degree, dec=41.2*u.degree, frame='icrs') >>> c = SkyCoord(10.625, 41.2, frame='icrs', unit='deg') >>> c = SkyCoord('00h42m30s', '+41d12m00s', frame='icrs') >>> c = SkyCoord('00h42.5m', '+41d12m') >>> c = SkyCoord('00 42 30 +41 12 00', unit=(u.hourangle, u.deg)) >>> c = SkyCoord('00:42.5 +41:12', unit=(u.hourangle, u.deg)) >>> c <SkyCoord (ICRS): (ra, dec) in deg (10.625, 41.2)>
The examples above illustrate a few simple rules to follow when creating a coordinate object:
- Coordinate values can be provided either as unnamed positional arguments or
via keyword arguments like
b(depending on the frame).
framekeyword is optional and defaults to ICRS.
- Angle units must be specified, either in the values themselves
'+41d12m00s') or via the
SkyCoord and all other
coordinates objects also support
array coordinates. These work the same as single-value coordinates, but
they store multiple coordinates in a single object. When you’re going
to apply the same operation to many different coordinates (say, from a
catalog), this is a better choice than a list of
because it will be much faster than applying the operation to each
SkyCoord in a for loop.
>>> c = SkyCoord(ra=[10, 11]*u.degree, dec=[41, -5]*u.degree) >>> c <SkyCoord (ICRS): (ra, dec) in deg [(10.0, 41.0), (11.0, -5.0)]> >>> c <SkyCoord (ICRS): (ra, dec) in deg (11.0, -5.0)>
Once you have a coordinate object you can now access the components of that coordinate (e.g. RA, Dec) and get a specific string representation of the full coordinate.
The component values are accessed using aptly named attributes:
>>> c = SkyCoord(ra=10.68458*u.degree, dec=41.26917*u.degree) >>> c.ra <Longitude 10.68458 deg> >>> c.ra.hour 0.7123053333333335 >>> c.ra.hms hms_tuple(h=0.0, m=42.0, s=44.299200000000525) >>> c.dec <Latitude 41.26917 deg> >>> c.dec.degree 41.26917 >>> c.dec.radian 0.7202828960652683
Coordinates can easily be converted to strings using the
>>> c = SkyCoord(ra=10.68458*u.degree, dec=41.26917*u.degree) >>> c.to_string('decimal') '10.6846 41.2692' >>> c.to_string('dms') '10d41m04.488s 41d16m09.012s' >>> c.to_string('hmsdms') '00h42m44.2992s +41d16m09.012s'
For additional information see the section on Working with Angles.
The simplest way to transform to a new coordinate frame is by accessing the appropriately-named attribute. For instance to get the coordinate in the Galactic frame use:
>>> c_icrs = SkyCoord(ra=10.68458*u.degree, dec=41.26917*u.degree, frame='icrs') >>> c_icrs.galactic <SkyCoord (Galactic): (l, b) in deg (121.174241811, -21.5728855724)>
For more control, you can use the
method, which accepts a frame name, frame class, or frame instance:
>>> c_fk5 = c_icrs.transform_to('fk5') # c_icrs.fk5 does the same thing >>> c_fk5 <SkyCoord (FK5: equinox=J2000.000): (ra, dec) in deg (10.6845915393, 41.2691714591)> >>> from astropy.coordinates import FK5 >>> c_fk5.transform_to(FK5(equinox='J1975')) # precess to a different equinox <SkyCoord (FK5: equinox=J1975.000): (ra, dec) in deg (10.3420913461, 41.1323211229)>
This form of
transform_to also makes it
straightforward to convert from celestial coordinates to
AltAz coordinates, allowing the use of
as a tool for planning observations. For a more complete example of
this, see Example: Observation Planning.
So far we have been using a spherical coordinate representation in the all the
examples, and this is the default for the built-in frames. Frequently it is
convenient to initialize or work with a coordinate using a different
representation such as cartesian or cylindrical. This can be done by setting
representation for either
SkyCoord objects or low-level frame
>>> c = SkyCoord(x=1, y=2, z=3, unit='kpc', representation='cartesian') >>> c <SkyCoord (ICRS): (x, y, z) in kpc (1.0, 2.0, 3.0)> >>> c.x, c.y, c.z (<Quantity 1.0 kpc>, <Quantity 2.0 kpc>, <Quantity 3.0 kpc>) >>> c.representation = 'cylindrical' >>> c <SkyCoord (ICRS): (rho, phi, z) in (kpc, deg, kpc) (2.2360679775, 63.4349488229, 3.0)>
For all the details see Representations.
Distance from the origin (which is system-dependent, but often the Earth
center) can also be assigned to a
SkyCoord. With two angles and a
distance, a unique point in 3D space is available, which also allows
conversion to the Cartesian representation of this location:
>>> from astropy.coordinates import Distance >>> c = SkyCoord(ra=10.68458*u.degree, dec=41.26917*u.degree, distance=770*u.kpc) >>> c.cartesian.x <Quantity 568.7128654235232 kpc> >>> c.cartesian.y <Quantity 107.3008974042025 kpc> >>> c.cartesian.z <Quantity 507.88994291875713 kpc>
With distances assigned,
SkyCoord convenience methods are more powerful, as
they can make use of the 3D information. For example:
>>> c1 = SkyCoord(ra=10*u.degree, dec=9*u.degree, distance=10*u.pc, frame='icrs') >>> c2 = SkyCoord(ra=11*u.degree, dec=10*u.degree, distance=11.5*u.pc, frame='icrs') >>> c1.separation_3d(c2) <Distance 1.5228602415117989 pc>
>>> c1 = SkyCoord(ra=10*u.degree, dec=9*u.degree, frame='icrs') >>> c2 = SkyCoord(ra=11*u.degree, dec=10*u.degree, frame='fk5') >>> c1.separation(c2) # Differing frames handled correctly <Angle 1.4045335865905868 deg>
astropy.coordinates subpackage also provides a quick way to get
coordinates for named objects assuming you have an active internet
from_name method of
uses Sesame to retrieve coordinates
for a particular named object:
>>> SkyCoord.from_name("M42") <SkyCoord (ICRS): (ra, dec) in deg (83.82208, -5.39111)>
>>> from astropy.coordinates import EarthLocation >>> EarthLocation.of_site('Apache Point Observatory') <EarthLocation (-1463969.3018517173, -5166673.342234327, 3434985.7120456537) m>
To see the list of site names available, use
of_site are for convenience, and hence
are by design rather simple. If you need precise coordinates for an object
you should find the appropriate reference and input the coordinates
manually, or use more specialized functionality like that in the
astroplan affiliated packages.
Also note that these two methods retrieve data from the internet to determine the celestial or Earth coordinates. The online data may be updated, so if you need to guarantee that your scripts are reproducible in the long term, see the Usage tips/suggestions for methods that access remote resources section.
coordinates package from v0.4 onward builds from
previous versions of the package, and more detailed information and
justification of the design is available in APE (Astropy Proposal for Enhancement) 5.
Here we provide an overview of the package and associated framework.
This background information is not necessary for simply using
coordinates, particularly if you use the
level class, but it is helpful for more advanced usage, particularly
creating your own frame, transformations, or representations. Another
useful piece of background information are some
Important Definitions as they are used in
coordinates is built on a three-tiered system of objects:
representations, frames, and a high-level class. Representations
classes are a particular way of storing a three-dimensional data point
(or points), such as Cartesian coordinates or spherical polar
coordinates. Frames are particular reference frames like FK5 or ICRS,
which may store their data in different representations, but have well-
defined transformations between each other. These transformations are
all stored in the
astropy.coordinates.frame_transform_graph, and new
transformations can be created by users. Finally, the high-level class
SkyCoord) uses the frame classes, but provides a more accessible
interface to these objects as well as various convenience methods and
more string-parsing capabilities.
Separating these concepts makes it easier to extend the functionality of
coordinates. It allows representations, frames, and
transformations to be defined or extended separately, while still
preserving the high-level capabilities and simplicity of the
More detailed information on using the package is provided on separate pages, listed below.
- Working with Angles
- Using the SkyCoord High-level Class
- Transforming Between Systems
- Example: Observation Planning
- Formatting Coordinate Strings
- Separations, Catalog Matching, and Related Functionality
- Using and Designing Coordinate Representations
- Using and Designing Coordinate Frames
- Example: Defining A Coordinate Frame for the Sgr Dwarf
- Description of Galactocentric coordinates transformation
- Usage tips/suggestions for methods that access remote resources
- Important Definitions
In addition, another resource for the capabilities of this package is the
astropy.coordinates.tests.test_api_ape5 testing file. It showcases most of
the major capabilities of the package, and hence is a useful supplement to
this document. You can see it by either looking at it directly if you
downloaded a copy of the astropy source code, or typing the following in an
In : from astropy.coordinates.tests import test_api_ape5 In : test_api_ape5??
Some references particularly useful in understanding subtleties of the coordinate systems implemented here include:
- USNO Circular 179
A useful guide to the IAU 2000/2003 work surrounding ICRS/IERS/CIRS and related problems in precision coordinate system work.
- Standards Of Fundamental Astronomy
The definitive implementation of IAU-defined algorithms. The “SOFA Tools for Earth Attitude” document is particularly valuable for understanding the latest IAU standards in detail.
- IERS Conventions (2010)
An exhaustive reference covering the ITRS, the IAU2000 celestial coordinates framework, and other related details of modern coordinate conventions.
- Meeus, J. “Astronomical Algorithms”
A valuable text describing details of a wide range of coordinate-related problems and concepts.
This subpackage contains classes and functions for celestial coordinates of astronomical objects. It also contains a framework for conversions between coordinate systems.
The diagram below shows all of the coordinate systems built into the
coordinates package, their aliases (useful for converting
other coordinates to them using attribute-style access) and the
pre-defined transformations between them. The user is free to
override any of these transformations by defining new transformations
between these systems, but the pre-defined transformations should be
sufficient for typical usage.
The graph also indicates the priority for each transformation as a number next to the arrow. These priorities are used to decide the preferred order when two transformation paths have the same number of steps. These priorities are defined such that the path with a smaller total priority is favored.
The ecliptic coordinate systems (added in Astropy v1.1) have not been extensively tested for accuracy or consistency with other implementations of ecliptic coordinates. We welcome contributions to add such testing, but in the meantime, users who depend on consistency with other implementations may wish to check test inputs against good datasets before using Astropy’s ecliptic coordinates.
||Converts 3D rectangular cartesian coordinates to spherical polar coordinates.|
||Combine multiple coordinate objects into a single
||Determines the constellation(s) a given coordinate object contains.|
||Retrieve an ICRS object by using an online name resolving service to retrieve coordinates for the specified name.|
||Determines the location of the sun at a given time (or times, if the input is an array
||Finds the nearest 3-dimensional matches of a coordinate or coordinates in a set of catalog coordinates.|
||Finds the nearest on-sky matches of a coordinate or coordinates in a set of catalog coordinates.|
||Searches for pairs of points that are at least as close as a specified distance in 3D space.|
||Searches for pairs of points that have an angular separation at least as close as a specified angle.|
||Converts spherical polar coordinates to rectangular cartesian coordinates.|
||A coordinate or frame in the Altitude-Azimuth system (Horizontal coordinates).|
||One or more angular value(s) with units equivalent to radians or degrees.|
||Barycentric ecliptic coordinates.|
||The base class for coordinate frames.|
||Base Representation object, for representing a point in a 3D coordinate system.|
||Raised when an angle is outside of its user-specified bounds.|
||A coordinate or frame in the Celestial Intermediate Reference System (CIRS).|
||Representation of points in 3D cartesian coordinates.|
||A transformation constructed by combining together a series of single-step transformations.|
||Raised if a coordinate system cannot be converted to another|
||An object that transforms a coordinate from one system to another.|
||Representation of points in 3D cylindrical coordinates.|
||A one-dimensional distance.|
||A coordinate transformation specified as a function that yields a 3 x 3 cartesian transformation matrix.|
||Location on the Earth.|
||A frame attribute that can act as a
||A coordinate or frame in the FK4 system.|
||A coordinate or frame in the FK4 system, but with the E-terms of aberration removed.|
||A coordinate or frame in the FK5 system.|
||A non-mutable data descriptor to hold a frame attribute.|
||A coordinate transformation defined by a function that accepts a coordinate object and returns the transformed coordinate object.|
||A coordinate or frame in the Geocentric Celestial Reference System (GCRS).|
||A coordinate or frame in the Galactocentric system.|
||A frame object that can’t store data but can hold any arbitrary frame attributes.|
||Geocentric ecliptic coordinates.|
||Heliocentric ecliptic coordinates.|
||A coordinate or frame in the ICRS system.|
||A coordinate or frame in the International Terrestrial Reference System (ITRS).|
||Raised when an hour value is not in the range [0,24).|
||Raised when an hour value is 24.|
||Raised when an minute value is not in the range [0,60].|
||Raised when a minute value is 60.|
||Raised when an second value (time) is not in the range [0,60].|
||Raised when a second value is 60.|
||Latitude-like angle(s) which must be in the range -90 to +90 deg.|
||Longitude-like angle(s) which are wrapped within a contiguous 360 degree range.|
||Representation of points in 3D spherical coordinates (using the physics convention of using
||A coordinate frame defined in a similar manner as GCRS, but precessed to a requested (mean) equinox.|
||A frame attribute that is a quantity with specified units and shape (optionally).|
||Raised when some part of an angle is out of its valid range.|
||High-level object providing a flexible interface for celestial coordinate representation, manipulation, and transformation between systems.|
||Representation of points in 3D spherical coordinates.|
||A coordinate transformation defined as a 3 x 3 cartesian transformation matrix.|
||Supergalactic Coordinates (see Lahav et al.|
||Frame attribute descriptor for quantities that are Time objects.|
||A graph representing the paths between coordinate frames.|
||Representation of points on a unit sphere.|
Class Inheritance Diagram¶