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PyEphem provides scientific-grade astronomical computations for the Python programming language. Given a date and location on the Earth’s surface, it can compute the positions of the Sun and Moon, of the planets and their moons, and of any asteroids, comets, or earth satellites whose orbital elements the user can provide. Additional functions are provided to compute the angular separation between two objects in the sky, to determine the constellation in which an object lies, and to find the times at which an object rises, transits, and sets on a particular day.
The numerical routines that lie behind PyEphem are those from the XEphem astronomy application (ascl:1112.013), whose author, Elwood Downey, generously gave permission for us to use them as the basis for PyEphem.
Skyfield computes positions for the stars, planets, and satellites in orbit around the Earth. Its results should agree with the positions generated by the United States Naval Observatory and their Astronomical Almanac to within 0.0005 arcseconds (which equals half a “mas” or milliarcsecond). It computes geocentric coordinates or topocentric coordinates specific to your location on the Earth’s surface. Skyfield accepts AstroPy (ascl:1304.002) time objects as input and can return results in native AstroPy units but is not dependend on AstroPy nor its compiled libraries.
JPLephem loads and uses standard Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) ephemerides for predicting the position and velocity of a planet or other Solar System body. It is one of the foundations of the Skyfield (ascl:1907.024) astronomy library for Python, and can also be used as a standalone package to generate raw vectors.
The “sgp4” module is a Python wrapper around the C++ version of the standard SGP4 algorithm for propagating Earth satellite positions from the element sets published by organizations like SpaceTrak and Celestrak. The code is the most recent version, including all of the corrections and bug fixes described in the paper _Revisiting Spacetrack Report #3_ (AIAA 2006-6753) by Vallado, Crawford, Hujsak, and Kelso. The test suite verifies that the Python wrapper returns exactly the coordinates specified in the C++ test cases.