Purpose


AsPyLib is a collection of tools written in Python for amateur astronomers, that allows FITS image processing and photometry of variable stars and asteroids.

In the long term, AsPyLib aims to become a library specialised in photometric reduction, that is able to cope with relatively high amounts of data, to make possible amateur surveys of variable stars. For this it has to perform many tasks such as automatic detection of stars, aperture photometry, astrometric reduction, matching with a star catalog (USNO-B1), etc, up to the calculation of some of the target's parameters (period, amplitude,etc) efficiently and reliably enough to allow automatisation.

February 2013
I am very busy with the Dauban survey, and the online version of AsPyLib has not been updated for about a year. At the moment AsPyLib contains most basic functionalities (see description below) but don't expect to set up a survey pipe-line from it with little work! I hope to get back to AsPyLib soon to share the improvements and lesson learned from the Dauban survey experience.



Available functionalities


supported operating systems

  • Windows (32bits, 64bits)
  • Linux (32bits, 64bits)

basic operations

  • image I/O, FITS header handling
  • statistics
  • co-addition (median / mean / sigma-clipping)
  • geometrical transforms (bilinear / Bspline interpolation)
  • star detection and fitting
  • shift detection
  • image calibration (hot pixels handling, saturated pixels flagging)

photometry

  • accurate aperture photometry (limited number of objects, moving or fixed)
  • automatic photometry of all detected fixed objects, with algorithm inspired from the Monitor project (see here)
  • search of variable stars
  • lightcurve processing (time corrections, fit with Fourier series)

astrometry

  • sending web queries (Vizier, SkyBoT)
  • automatic astrometry based on Kaiser method (to find approximate scaling, rotation, translation, exactly the same as the SCAMP software), followed by 3rd order distorsion fit


License


AsPyLib (versions 1.0.0 to 2.0.0)
Copyright (C) 2011-2013 Jerome Caron

This program is free software: you can redistribute it and/or modify
it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by
the Free Software Foundation, either version 3 of the License, or
(at your option) any later version.

This program is distributed in the hope that it will be useful,
but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of
MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. See the
GNU General Public License for more details.

You should have received a copy of the GNU General Public License
along with this program. If not, see http://www.gnu.org/licenses/.



The author and his motivations


The starting point of this project is my personal interest for photometry of "fast oscillating" targets such as asteroids, short period variable stars (eclipsing, cepheids,...). Lightcurves are obtained very easily by measuring the temporal variations of brightness of a sizeless source in the sky. The target is literally at unreachable distances, and the amount of information very small. But still the measured data contains the signature of many combined effects, with various complexity. On top of the usual periodicity, one can observe the slow change of an asteroid's lightcurve, the multiple periods of some cepheids, the effects of light time propagation, etc.
There are also a few mysteries, reminding the immensity of the universe... For instance:
Discovery of an usual optical transiant with the Hubble Space Telescope
The study of resonant variability observed in the massive LMC system BI 108

To make this library the work to be done is quite large, but the choice of Python is a decisive ingredient to make it feasible. Python simplicity allows fast programming and thanks to existing modules (Pyfits, Numpy, Scipy, Matlplotlib), a great part of the work is actually already done. Also I will not program any GUI or stand alone application (I leave this to whoever is interested) so the only remaining task is to focus on the data processing only, to write simple scripts and functions and to organise them rationally. I dare to think that this is doable by a single person, as long as I pick up some advice here and there and keep an eye on the literature to make sure I do not take a completely wrong direction. Finally, I hope that some picky users will eventually help by pointing out a few defficiencies, or maybe that there will be some contagion in my interest for Python programming...

I hope you will enjoy this library !

Contact
jerome_caron_astro 'at' ymail.com.