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Telescope guide star selection tools.

Project description


Sindarin. noun. meaning Star of the Heavens


(Sindarin Elvish as created by J. R. R. Tolkien)

A framework for selecting stars in a target field that meet complex criteria defined by a telescope or instrument.

Given coordinates on-sky and a basic definition of a science instrument (basic instruments, along with some from the Southern African Large Telescope are included) stars can be selected for a specific purpose. The example is the output of the script when pointed at the Jewel Box and with the --png flag enabled.

Diagram of the Jewel Box


pip install gilmenel


For Ubuntu 18.04 and Python3:

# apt-get install python3-dev

$ sudo -H pip install -U pipenv

Libraries that might be required are:

# apt-get install default-libmysqlclient-dev
# apt-get install libssl-dev

Primary Python packages:

  • astropy
  • astroquery
  • sqlalchemy
  • matplotlib

Install DS9 for additional debugging:

# apt-get install saods9


$ make install

Place the config file 'docs/' into the main project directory. Edit the file as required.


$ make uninstall


To run unit tests, execute:

$ make check

To run unit tests on source code change, execute:

$ make watch-check

To run coverage test, execute:

$ make coverage


Minimal example:

from astropy import units as u
from astropy.coordinates import SkyCoord

from gilmenel import gilmenel
from gilmenel import salt


tarantula = SkyCoord(
    '05h 38m 38s', '−69:05.7', unit=(u.hourangle, u.deg)
)  # Tarantula Nebula

instr = salt.fif
instr.point_to(tarantula, pa=0 * u.deg)

stars = gilmenel.view_sky(instr)
guide_stars = gilmenel.find_best_stars(instr, stars)


A full usage example can be found in

Usage: field [OPTIONS] [jewel_box|near_jewel|somewhere|bootes_void|
sunflower|m83] PA [pfgs|fif]


$ ./ field jewel_box 0 pfgs


When using ds9 for debugging, there appears to be two different versions that interpret the command string differently.

ds9 -dsseso "00:42:44.404 +41:16:08.78"


ds9 -dsseso coord "00:42:44.404 +41:16:08.78"

The code might need to be changed to reflect the version locally installed.


Asteria is designed to be run for a local or remote catalogue.

To download the whole-sky catalogue for SALT, run the command below. Please note that this is not recommended as A LOT of data (we're talking gigabytes here) will be downloaded.

$ ./catalogue/
$ ./catalogue/
$ ./catalogue/
$ ./catalogue/

Should the catalogue download fail part-way through, inspect the files succeeded.tsv and failed.tsv for more details. Additional arguments can be passed to to begin in the correct place. Note that since data is downloaded and only committed to the database every 30 000 sources, a simple select query WHICH MUST INCLUDE THE LIMIT KEYWORD will show the last sources committed.

To view an image of the local catalogue, run:

$ ./catalogue/

To run the view command on remote machines without displays:

$ export MPLBACKEND="agg"

Database Operations

To see a summary of duplicates

select dup_count, count(dup_count) as row_count from (select count(source_id) as dup_count from Sources group by source) t group by dup_count order by dup_count;

To delete duplicate rows

delete from Sources where source_id not in (select min(source_id) from Sources group by source);


As of v0.4.0, this project will use the git commit message format outlined below:

[optional breaking ]<type>[ optional (<scope>)]: <description>

[optional body]

<type> is recommended to be one of:


<scope> is recommended to be a module, file, or folder name as appropiate.

This is a simpler version of


This project uses Semantic Versioning, for more details see

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