Astrophysics: Software Updates

Please note: This Page is an experiment which covers only Astrophysics software for MacOS X, and which at the time of writing is maintained manually. If you spot any errors, omissions or broken links, please contact IT Support at the usual e-mail address, or use the Comments link at the foot of this page.


  • IMPOTANT NOTICE: macOS 10.14 ("Mojave") has been released.

    • We will be rolling it out, and making upgrades to it available, once it's been fully tested with our setup. Please be patient.

    • macOS 10.11 ("El Capitan") will no longer receive security updates. Please upgrade any existing 10.11 installations to 10.12 ("Sierra") as a matter of urgency.

  • Version 2018A of the Starlink software collection is now available from the Astrophysics category of Self-Service. This will download the precompiled macOS version of the software from Hawaii, and install it under /Local; then say "Activate starlink" at a fresh shell prompt in the usual way. As usual, the rather large ORAC-DR dataset is packaged separately (if you don't know what that is, you won't need it).


  • Version 3.0.1 of FITS Liberator is now available from the Astrophysics category of Self-Service: this installs as /Applications/FITS . This version of the installation process now copies two necessary libraries into ~/lib/ under the installer's home directory, as macOS's improved security measures no longer permit them to be installed into /usr/lib .


  • Version 2017.3.3 of the Community edition of PyCharm is now available from the Astrophysics category of Self-Service: this installs as /Applications/PyCharm The new version updates includes various feature enhancements and bug fixes.

    Please note: There may be problems with importing one's settings from a previous version of PyCharm. Please contact us at the usual e-mail address for a workaround --- they're not missing, merely mislaid. Until this has been sorted out, the previous version will continue to be available via Self-Service.


  • A freestanding copy of fv v5.4 (a FITSfile viewer and editor from the HEASoft suite) has now been made available in the Astrophysics category of Self-Service. It will install as /Applications/, and uses X11/XQuartz (which may take a time to start up if you haven't already launched it) for display. By default it uses POW (apparently an internal FITSfile viewer) for display; use of DS9 is advertised, but doesn't yet work with our freestanding 64-bit DS9.

    Help is hereby requested for persuading its file selector to start up in a directory of one's choice, not at the root directory of one's system. In the meantime, remember to say pwd at the shell prompt to help guide it.


  • CASA version 4.7.2 has been made available for El Capitan and Sierra systems: amongst other things, it is believed to contains the correction for the leap second at the end of 2016. It can be installed from the Astrophysics section of Self-Service, and will appear as /Applications/ ; let us know if there's problems with it, please.

    The optional companion package CASA 4.7.2 Symbolic Links makes programs such as casapy available at the shell prompt, but is not necessary if you always launch CASA from the GUI.


  • Starlink 2016A has been made available: amongst other things, it contains the correction for the leap second at the end of 2016. It will be automatically installed into Sierra (10.12) systems. (For El Capitan systems (10.11) and older, it can be installed from the Astrophysics section of Self-Service.) Activate it in the usual manner.

(We apologise for the interruption to this service.)


  • An experimental version of gedit is available from the Utilities section of Self-Service. This will place in the Applications folder: double-click on same, or say

    open -a gedit

    at the command line. If this proves sufficiently popular and sufficiently stable, a more conventional command-line invocation will be made available.

  • An experimental build of the program splot (a "multi-purpose program for the display and manipulation of QSO and galaxy spectra") is now available from the Astrophysics section of Self-Service: this puts the splot executable in /Local/bin, which should be on your $PATH. Please note that this has been linked against an unpatched version of the PGPLOT library, in the interests of getting this code out there and in use the sooner, so some functionality will be missing.


  • A MacOS X client for X2GO, a remote-desktop facility for talking to certain Linux servers, is now available from the Applications section of Self-Service.

This installs in the /Applications folder.


After installation, say (at the command prompt):

Activate astromatic

.... after which the software in the suite will be available at your shell prompt. For more information, please see our page on the topic.


  • JSkyCalc (the Java implementation of SkyCalc) is now available from the Astrophysics category of Self-Service.

After installation, say (at the command prompt) either:


.... or:

Activate skycalc
java JSkyCalc


  • XQuartz 2.7.7 is now available from the front page of Self-Service. If your instance of X11/XQuartz tries to update itself, stop it doing so, then quit all X11 programs, and use the Self-Service entry instead.


  • An initial distribution version of Starlink 2014A.
  • An experimental version of Specview, version 2.17.6, plus Java and Flash browser-plugin support.
  • A static version of Ureka, version 1.4.1. Please contact IT Support for more information, and for help with building updatable instances (it's not quite trivial).

These are all now available for installation from the Astrophysics category of Self-Service. Please note that this category is getting crowded: be prepared to scroll back up the page to bring the Install dialogue box back into view.


  • PyCharm, v3.4.1, Community Edition: Now available for installation from the Development category of Self-Service.


  • IDL 8.3 is now available for installation from the Astrophysics category of Self-Service. This incorporates a number of bug fixes, including the avalanche of warning messages about Time Machine when used from the command line.


  • IRAF, and PyRAF: A freestanding 64-bit build of IRAF v2.16.1 is available from the Astrophysics category of Self-Service. This lifts certain size-related limits which some users of SciSoft's IRAF (and PyRAF) have been experiencing. Please see the PyRAF page for more information.

  • The Python AstroPack: This has been extended to include (amongst other goodies) AstroPy, CosmoloPy, IDLsave, and pip.

  • Python-mylib: To simplify the process of building up $PYTHONPATH, saying:

    Activate python-mylib

    .... now puts your personal site-packages directory at the head of it. Please see Python and SciSoft under MacOS X 10.6 or later for more information.

  • Central MacPorts: An enhanced and vastly extended build of MacPorts is available to intrepid testers on request. In the long term, we plan to use this to replace much or all of the Python software in SciSoft; in particular, the Python AstroPack may no longer be necessary. Please contact IT Support for availability.


  • A new set of drivers is available for the Sharp printers in the Denys Wilkinson Building. If the DWBSharpL7 queue in particular is displaying an error icon in Preferences>Print&Fax or the print dialogue, please update driver and queue information using the appropriate version of "DWB Printers" from Self-Service, either from the Printers category or from Self-Service's front page.


  • We are in the process of updating the Centrally-distributed MacPorts build and distribution mechanisms, and will be taking the opportunity to rationalise and expand its installed software set. Please stand by for further announcements.

  • The Miriad suite of data-reduction tools is now available as a freestanding suite from the Astrophysics category in Self-Service; the Activation is still required, and is unchanged. Doing this will permit us to add the ever-popular PGPLOT library to our Centrally-distributed MacPorts build (the standard PGPLOT conflicts with the mutated version of the same library which is embedded in Miriad).

    Feedback from intrepid beta testers, both bug reports and "it works for me", is hereby humbly requested. For more information, please see:

    Astrophysics: Minor tools (Miriad)




First entry. For information older than this, please contact IT Support.

  • Scisoft v2012.11.1: a series of minor updates, including at least one bugfix to the IRAF start-up sequence. Available from Self-Service. For more information, please see:

    SciSoft OS X News
    our local SciSoft page

  • Starlink hikialania (2013-April-12): Available from Self-Service. Can be installed alongside kapuahi (2012-September-18). For more information, please see:

    Starlink hikialania release notes
    our local Starlink page

  • NAG: two main suites are available from Self-Service, plus a test-and-demo set:

    NAG Libraries for Intel and Gnu compilers (ifort and gcc)
    NAG's Fortran compiler (nagfor), plus the matching NAG library
    NAG test-and-demo suite

    For more information, please see:

    the NAG section in Astrophysics: Libraries

  • Applications Setup: "Activate installed foo" (for all values of foo) tests whether a package can be Activated, without affecting your current shell. In addition, for certain packages (including SciSoft and Starlink), you'll be told which versions, if any, are installed. For more information, please see:

    Applications Setup

Categories: Astro software | Astrophysics