GDL setup with Astronomy library (open-source IDL replacement)

sudo apt-get install gnudatalanguage

edit your .bashrc, adding the line:
export GDL_STARTUP=~/.gdl/

Now to say setup the Astronomy Library for GDL, download it from

and extract to say

finally let’s edit the
nano ~/.gdl/
and paste in:


which keeps the current paths and adds all the Astronomy library subdirectories.

to check yourself, close your Terminal and reopen Terminal and type gdl

then type
and you should see your IDLtoolbox directories listed.

Google Earth 7.1 in Ubuntu 13.10

In short: If you want Google Earth on Ubuntu 13.10 64-bit, you should actually (at present) download the 32-bit version! (tested with Google Earth version

ia32-libs is no longer available for Ubuntu 13.10 (which is what Google Earth 64-bit wants). As an aside, you can install individual 32-bit packages, typically by appending :i386 to the package name.

But in this case, it appears that just downloading 32-bit Google Earth doesn’t require ia32-libs, and it “worked for me”.

Coincidentally, there was another issue on Ubuntu 13.04 with Google Earth 64-bit that also was solved by installing 32-bit Google Earth.

Setting up GCX (Linux astrometry program)

The first step is sudo apt-get install gcx

you will need the GSC ACT catalog, downloaded using wget. There are a lot of directories with lots of ~50KB files, so it will take a while even with a very fast internet connection. Maybe there is a better way to use wget to download a huge amount of small files

mkdir ~/gsc-act && cd ~/gsc-act
wget -r -nH --cut-dirs=5

set File>File and Device Options/GSC to /home/username/gsc-act
where username is your linux login
You will need the Tycho2 star catalog, downloaded using wget.

mkdir ~/tycho2 && cd ~/tycho2
wget -r -nH --cut-dirs=5

Once you see that they’ve downloaded correctly, do:

zcat tyc2.dat.??.gz >tycho2.dat

set File>File and Device Options/Tycho2 to /home/username/tycho2
where username is your linux login

Setting up program

Note: if you have Ubuntu 14.04, you can simply type: sudo apt-get install
Otherwise, or if you want the latest version, follow the steps below.

If you want a nice wrapper program I wrote that plots right ascension / declination and azimuth /elevation for your image, check out: the is what you want.

setup the prereqs:
sudo apt-get install libcairo2-dev libnetpbm10-dev netpbm \
libpng12-dev libjpeg-dev python-numpy \
python-pyfits python-dev zlib1g-dev \
swig cfitsio-dev

then download newest .bz2 file from:
extract it to your ~ directory, then go in and type in Terminal
make py
make extra
sudo make install

edit your .bashrc file, adding the line
export PATH="$PATH:/usr/local/astrometry/bin"

to increase performance, edit
sudo nano /usr/local/astrometry/etc/astrometry.cfg
(sometimes it’s in /etc/astrometry.cfg)
and uncomment the
and modify
add_path /opt/astrometry/data
note: TILDE won’t work! actually use /home/username
where username is your Linux login.

sudo mkdir -p /opt/astrometry/data
for i in {08..19}; do
wget -nc -nd -P /opt/astrometry/data"$i".fits

MATLAB GFORTRAN_1.4 not found on Ubuntu 13.10

if you’re getting error messages like:

/usr/local/MATLAB/R2013a/sys/os/glnxa64/ version `GFORTRAN_1.4' not found (required by /usr/lib/
/usr/local/MATLAB/R2013a/sys/os/glnxa64/ version `GFORTRAN_1.4' not found (required by /usr/lib/

try doing in Terminal (note, this is for Matlab R2013a, your Matlab directory may be slightly different)

cd /usr/local/MATLAB/R2013a/sys/os/glnxa64
sudo mv
sudo ln -s /usr/lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/