Initializing axes with world coordinates#

Basic initialization#

To make a plot using WCSAxes, we first read in the data using and parse the WCS information. In this example, we will use an example FITS file from the server (the get_pkg_data_filename() function downloads the file and returns a filename):

from astropy.wcs import WCS
from import fits
from import get_pkg_data_filename

filename = get_pkg_data_filename('galactic_center/gc_msx_e.fits')

hdu =[0]
wcs = WCS(hdu.header)

We then create a figure using Matplotlib and create the axes using the WCS object created above. The following example shows how to do this with the Matplotlib ‘pyplot’ interface, keeping a reference to the axes object:

import matplotlib.pyplot as plt
ax = plt.subplot(projection=wcs)

(png, svg, pdf)


The ax object created is an instance of the WCSAxes class. Note that if no WCS transformation is specified, the transformation will default to identity, meaning that the world coordinates will match the pixel coordinates.

The field of view shown is, as for standard matplotlib axes, 0 to 1 in both directions, in pixel coordinates. As soon as you show an image (see Plotting images and contours), the limits will be adjusted, but if you want you can also adjust the limits manually. Adjusting the limits is done using the same functions/methods as for a normal Matplotlib plot:

ax.set_xlim(-0.5,[1] - 0.5)
ax.set_ylim(-0.5,[0] - 0.5)

(png, svg, pdf)



If you use the pyplot interface, you can also replace ax.set_xlim and ax.set_ylim by plt.xlim and plt.ylim.

Alternative methods#

As in Matplotlib, there are in fact several ways you can initialize the WCSAxes.

As shown above, the simplest way is to make use of the WCS class and pass this to plt.subplot. If you normally use the (partially) object-oriented interface of Matplotlib, you can also do:

fig = plt.figure()
ax = fig.add_subplot(1, 1, 1, projection=wcs)

Note that this also works with add_axes() and axes(), e.g.:

ax = fig.add_axes([0.1, 0.1, 0.8, 0.8], projection=wcs)


plt.axes([0.1, 0.1, 0.8, 0.8], projection=wcs)

Any additional arguments passed to add_subplot(), add_axes(), subplot(), or axes(), such as slices or frame_class, will be passed on to the WCSAxes class.

Directly initializing WCSAxes#

As an alternative to the above methods of initializing WCSAxes, you can also instantiate WCSAxes directly and add it to the figure:

from astropy.wcs import WCS
from astropy.visualization.wcsaxes import WCSAxes
import matplotlib.pyplot as plt

wcs = WCS(...)

fig = plt.figure()
ax = WCSAxes(fig, [0.1, 0.1, 0.8, 0.8], wcs=wcs)
fig.add_axes(ax)  # note that the axes have to be explicitly added to the figure