GNU Astronomy Utilities

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WCSLIB is written and maintained by one of the authors of the World Coordinate System (WCS) definition in the FITS standard24, Mark Calabretta. It might be already built and ready in your distribution’s package management system. However, here the installation from source is explained, for the advantages of installation from source please see Mandatory dependencies. To install WCSLIB you will need to have CFITSIO already installed, see CFITSIO.

WCSLIB also has plotting capabilities which use PGPLOT (a plotting library for C). If you wan to use those capabilities in WCSLIB, PGPLOT provides the PGPLOT installation instructions. However PGPLOT is old25, so its installation is not easy, there are also many great modern WCS plotting tools (mostly in written in Python). Hence, if you will not be using those plotting functions in WCSLIB, you can configure it with the --without-pgplot option as shown below. Let’s assume you have downloaded wcslib.tar.bz2 and are in the same directory:

$ tar xf wcslib.tar.bz2
$ cd wcslib-X.X                    # Replace X.X with version number
$ ./configure --without-pgplot LIBS="-pthread -lm" --disable-fortran
$ make
$ make check
$ sudo make install



Greisen E.W., Calabretta M.R. (2002) Representation of world coordinates in FITS. Astronomy and Astrophysics, 395, 1061-1075.


As of early June 2016, its most recent version was uploaded in February 2001.