Why IRAF/Scisoft?

I’ve been using Image Reduction and Analysis Facility (IRAF) since 2004 on various UNIX computers for processing astronomical data images, but had never installed it on my Macintosh. Fortunately, Kim McLeod pointed me to the wonderful folks at Scisoft, who have made a comprehensive package for installing IRAF on the Macintosh. After being frustrated with directions that told me to create new accounts, change permissions, and all but compile things from scratch, Scisoft is easy to install, and most importantly, it works.

Scisoft installs a host of packages such as MIDAS, PyRAF, Python and various other Python extensions.

Download and Install

There’s been recent discussion on AstroBetter on how to install Scisoft/IRAF on OS X.  I’ll defer to the experts on this.

Tweaks and Tricks

  • I recommend putting a line in your .tcshrc or .cshrc file like this:
    alias iraf 'cd; ds9 &; cl'
    This will cd to your home directory where your file lives, start ds9, then start the IRAF cl.
  • IRAF does not play well with bash in my experience.  Stick with tcsh while running IRAF. Please, please correct me if I’m wrong.
  • IRAF not displaying your entire image? Put the following in your file:
    set stdimage = imt2048
  • Want to add a field to your FITS header?:
    hedit image.fits $FIELD_VALUE add+

Notes (very old)

  • As of August 1, 2008, the Scisoft installer seems to have trouble with putting SAO ds9 in the correct location. There’s a fix involving realiasing some paths and sending carrier pigeons to the CFA, but absolutely no voodoo and certainly no goat sacrificing. Go here and scroll about halfway down the page to where it says “DS9”.
  • Scisoft no longer installs IRAF in a top-level directory! UNIX installation purists rejoice!

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