Open Source Astronomy Software You Can Contribute To

Winter Hexagon open source software
Winter Hexagon. Courtesy of User Elop using Stellarium - Own work, based on a Screenshots with Stellarium

Although there is a ton of astronomy software available on the market to use, there are some great open source software that is free to use and develop. This freedom to use and contribute to helps grow the developers skills and improve the software. Here are some well known open source software that you can use and contribute to the development of to help make better software. We will include where to find each software, the benefits, and more.


Probably one of the most popular tools for all amateur astronomy, Stellarium is an open source tool that can be used on web, mobile, and hardware platforms. It is available, easy to use, and works on most systems. The source code is available at with the code being written in a combination of C, C++, C#, Python, and HTML. Being open source makes Stellarium easy for developers to tweak the code as needed.

APOD api

People love looking at beautiful photos of space and space objects. The NASA APOD, Astronomy Photograph Of the Day, is extremely popular and the API is now available! Available on Github, the API is mainly Python and HTML. It is extremely reliable and is a great way to integrate the NASA APOD into your work!


In the world of technology, machine learning and artificial intelligence are buzz words. As a result of these technologies growing rapidly in their use and applications, it makes sense that there are astronomical opportunities to use and apply them. AstroML is described as “Machine learning, statistics, and data mining for astronomy and astrophysics.” Written in Python and initially released in 2012, the project “contains a growing library of statistical and machine learning routines for analyzing astronomical data in python, loaders for several open astronomical datasets, and a large suite of examples of analyzing and visualizing astronomical datasets.” This is really helpful for astronomers and those doing work on large datasets. It uses a BSD license which says that copies are allowed as long as the requirement that the source code retains the copyright notices and conditions are met.

Coding languages like astropy to help create projects

In addition to the tools above, there are open source tools to help astronomers write projects in their chosen coding environment. For example, for those astronomers who write in Python, there are tools such as AstroPy that can be used to “foster interoperability between Python astronomy packages.” For those who want a reference for other astronomy resources, check out awesome-astronomy.

What are your favorite open source astronomy programs? Let us know! Make sure to follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and make sure to check out other Top 5 articles like this.

1 Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. A New Light Pollution AI - CosmosPNW

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.