What’s New in Astropy 3.2?


Astropy 3.2 is a major release that adds significant new functionality since the 3.1.x series of releases.

In particular, this release includes:

In addition to these major changes, Astropy v3.2 includes a large number of smaller improvements and bug fixes, which are described in the Full Changelog. By the numbers:

  • 551 issues have been closed since v3.1

  • 256 pull requests have been merged since v3.1

  • 67 distinct people have contributed to this release, 24 of which are first time contributors to Astropy

New Sub-package for Time Series

Astropy 3.2 includes a new experimental sub-package: Time series (astropy.timeseries). Currently this sub-package provides classes to represent sampled and binned time series as well as some basic analysis tasks.

The following example shows a simple example of reading in a Kepler light curve, finding the period of the transits, and folding the light curve.

import numpy as np
import matplotlib.pyplot as plt
from astropy.timeseries import TimeSeries
from astropy.utils.data import get_pkg_data_filename
from astropy import units as u

filename = get_pkg_data_filename('timeseries/kplr010666592-2009131110544_slc.fits')
ts = TimeSeries.read(filename, format='kepler.fits')


# Show the original light curve
plt.subplot(1, 2, 1)
plt.plot(ts.time.mjd, ts['sap_flux'], 'k.', markersize=1)
plt.xlabel('Barycentric Modified Julian Date')
plt.ylabel('SAP Flux (e-/s)')

# Find the transit period and fold the light curve
from astropy.timeseries import BoxLeastSquares
periodogram = BoxLeastSquares.from_timeseries(ts, 'sap_flux')
results = periodogram.autopower(0.2 * u.day)
best = np.argmax(results.power)
ts_folded = ts.fold(period=results.period[best],

# Show the folded light curve
plt.subplot(1, 2, 2)
plt.plot(ts_folded.time.jd, ts_folded['sap_flux'], 'k.', markersize=1)
plt.xlabel('Time relative to epoch (days)')

(png, svg, pdf)


This sub-package should be considered experimental and subject to API changes in the future if user feedback calls for it.

Note that the LombScargle and BoxLeastSquares periodogram classes have now moved from the astropy.stats to the astropy.timeseries module. These classes have been improved and can now take absolute times as an alternative to relative times.

Finally, the LombScargle class now includes a model_parameters() method to make it easier to compute the best-fit parameters for a given frequency, as well as design_matrix() and offset() to inspect the model further.

New SI/CODATA 2018 Constants

The new redefinition of the SI system and its base units came into force on 2019-05-20. Accompanying that redefinition was a new set of physical constants (CODATA2018). Astropy v3.2 contains these new CODATA2018 phsical constants, which contain in particular quite different uncertainties due to the redefinition. E.g.,:

>>> from astropy import constants
>>> from astropy.constants import codata2018
>>> constants.m_e
<<class 'astropy.constants.codata2014.CODATA2014'> name='Electron mass' value=9.10938356e-31 uncertainty=1.1e-38 unit='kg' reference='CODATA 2014'>
>>> constants.m_e.uncertainty, codata2018.m_e.uncertainty
(1.1e-38, 2.8e-40)
>>> constants.mu0.uncertainty, codata2018.mu0.uncertainty
(0.0, 1.9e-16)

While CODATA2018 will not be the default in astropy v3.2, a future version will transition to the new values (with units similarly matched where relevant).

For more background on the values and measurements of these constants see the CODATA web site, or see the wikipedia article on the new SI system for a more accessible description of the revised system.

Additions and changes to Ecliptic Transformations

The Ecliptic frames and associated transformations in astropy.coordinates have been updated to correctly reflect the “True” and “Mean” terminology. In this release there are now *MeanEcliptic frames now which include precession but not nutation, and *TrueEcliptic frames which also include nutation. Additionally, new frames (HeliocentricEclipticIAU76 and CustomBarycentricEcliptic) have been added with specific conventions used in particular fields. For more details on the motivation behind these changes, see PR #8394 and the associated discussion.

As an example, this shows the evolution of the ecliptic origin for the true and mean barycentric ecliptic frames over the course of a year:

import numpy as np
import matplotlib.pyplot as plt
from astropy.visualization import quantity_support

from astropy import units as u
from astropy.time import Time
from astropy.coordinates import BarycentricMeanEcliptic, BarycentricTrueEcliptic, ICRS

t = Time('J2018') + np.linspace(-1, 0, 1000)*u.year

bme_origin = BarycentricMeanEcliptic([0]*len(t)*u.deg, [0]*len(t)*u.deg, equinox=t)
bte_origin = BarycentricTrueEcliptic([0]*len(t)*u.deg, [0]*len(t)*u.deg, equinox=t)

im = bme_origin.transform_to(ICRS())
it = bte_origin.transform_to(ICRS())

plt.plot(t.jyear, im.ra.wrap_at(180*u.deg), label='BarycentricMeanEcliptic')
plt.plot(t.jyear, it.ra.wrap_at(180*u.deg), label='BarycentricTrueEcliptic')

plt.xlabel('Julian year')
plt.ylabel('ICRS R.A. of ecliptic origin [{}]'.format(im.ra.unit))

(png, svg, pdf)


Note that this change may break some usage of the previous *TrueEcliptic frames, as in the last few versions these had a behavior more akin to “mean” ecliptic frames. In many cases it will be sufficient to simply replace this usage with the appropriate *MeanEcliptic frames.

Default time scale for “J2000”-style strings changed to TT

In past versions of astropy, times specified as “equinox-style strings” - e.g., Time('J2000') - defaulted to the UTC scale. This includes default equinoxes for FK4/FK5 coordinates. To be more consistent with commonly-accepted usage of terms like “J2000”, this strings now default to the TT time scale. This difference is on the order of 60 seconds, which for e.g. equinox precession is typically an extremely small differences (picoarcseconds). However, if the previous behavior is needed, the easiest work-around is to change any use of e.g., 'J2000' to Time('J2000', scale='utc').

Table performance improvements and change in meta handling

A number of changes were made to the Table implementation to improve performance:

  • Table row access speed is improved by a factor of 2 to 3.

  • Table slicing speed is improved by a factor of 2.

  • Getting the table length is now faster by a factor of 3 to 10.

  • Writing a table with masked columns to ECSV is now faster (depending on how many masked columns there are).

  • Manipulating tables and columns that have substantial meta-data stored in the meta attributes (e.g. some FITS tables) is now faster. This was done by removing unnecessary deep copies of the meta-data and in some cases converting to a shallow copy. See the change log for #8404 for details about the related API changes in table initialization and slicing.

Table I/O integration of pandas I/O functions for ASCII tables

Astropy Table now supports the ability to read or write tables using some of the I/O methods available within pandas. This interface provides convenient wrappers for the pandas read/write functions for the following formats: CSV, JSON, HTML, and fixed width. For very large tables these may provide better performance than the built-in astropy table ASCII read and write functions. For details see Pandas.

Support for ASDF readers/writers for Table class

If the asdf package is installed, Table can be read from and written to ASDF files, using e.g.:

from astropy.table import Table
tab = Table.read('data.asdf')



Improved help on Table read() and write() methods

Starting from astropy version 3.2 is now possible to get detailed help for read and write which is specific to a particular data format. This includes information about the format and method keywords that apply only for that format. The following examples illustrate the new syntax for getting help:

>>> Table.read.help('ascii.latex')
>>> Table.read.help('ascii')
>>> Table.read.help('fits')
>>> Table.write.help('hdf5')
>>> Table.write.help('csv')
>>> Table.read.help()  # Generic read help

Deprecated/Renamed/Removed functionality

The bundled version of the six package in the astropy.extern.six sub-package is now deprecated. You should instead make use of the six package directly.

Composition of model classes (as opposed to instances) is now deprecated and will be removed in the v4.0 release.

The LombScargle and BoxLeastSquares periodogram classes have now moved from the astropy.stats to the astropy.timeseries module.

The previously deprecated astropy.tests.pytest_plugins module has been removed. The variables PYTEST_HEADER_MODULES and TESTED_VERSIONS should instead be imported from astropy.tests.plugins.display, and the function enable_deprecations_as_exceptions should be imported from astropy.tests.helper.

Full change log

To see a detailed list of all changes in version v3.2, including changes in API, please see the Full Changelog.

Contributors to the v3.2 release

  • Adam Ginsburg

  • Adrian Price-Whelan

  • Alex Conley

  • Alex Drlica-Wagner *

  • Antony Lee

  • Benjamin Alan Weaver

  • Benjamin Roulston *

  • Benjamin Winkel *

  • Brigitta Sipocz

  • Bruno Oliveira

  • Christoph Deil

  • Clément Robert *

  • Dan Foreman-Mackey

  • Dan Taranu *

  • Daniel D’Avella

  • David Shupe

  • David Stansby

  • Devin Crichton

  • Erik M. Bray

  • Erik Tollerud

  • Francesco Montanari *

  • Frédéric Chapoton *

  • Hans Moritz Günther

  • Himanshu Pathak *

  • Jake VanderPlas

  • James Davies

  • James Noss

  • Jane Rigby *

  • Jani Šumak

  • Javier Pascual Granado *

  • John Parejko

  • Johnny Greco

  • Joseph Schlitz

  • Juan Luis Cano Rodríguez

  • Kris Stern *

  • Larry Bradley

  • Lauren Glattly *

  • Leo Singer

  • Lisa Martin *

  • Marten van Kerkwijk

  • Matteo Bachetti

  • Matthew Craig

  • Michael Seifert

  • Nabil Freij *

  • Nadia Dencheva

  • Nicholas Saunders *

  • Noah Zuckman *

  • Ole Streicher

  • Perry Greenfield

  • Pey Lian Lim

  • Rohit Kapoor *

  • Samuel Brice *

  • Simon Conseil

  • Steve Crawford

  • Stuart Mumford

  • Sudheesh Singanamalla

    1. Carl Beery *

  • Thomas Robitaille

  • Tim Jenness

  • Tim Plummer *

  • Tito Dal Canton *

  • Tom Aldcroft

  • Vishnunarayan K I

  • Yannick Copin

  • Yash Kumar *

  • disha *

  • shilpi_jc *

Where a * indicates their first contribution to Astropy.