The Starlink Project was a long running UK Project supporting astronomical data processing. It was shut down in 2005 but the software continued to be developed at the Joint Astronomy Centre until March 2015, and is now maintained by the East Asian Observatory. The code is open source.

Starlink News was last updated 2023-12-20.

Getting the Software

The Joint Astronomy Centre and East Asian Observatory have made a number of releases. The most recent is 2023A which can be downloaded from here where installation instructions are also provided.

Please note that there was a leap second at the end of December 2016; data taken since then will be gridded wrongly by all releases prior to 2016A. Please use 2023A (or 2021A, 2018A, 2016A, or a development rsync version) to reduce JCMT data taken from this point onwards.

For a cutting edge version, you can sometimes rsync from the East Asian Observatory's build.

Citing the software

If you have used Starlink software in your research, please cite the software in your papers.

For the Starlink software package please use:

Most recent reference:

All of the individual packages are on the Astronomy Source Code Library, which have entries in ADS and can be cited in major astronomy journals. If a package has no other reference, please cite the ASCL entry. The following packages have a preferred reference you should use instead or as well as the ASCL entry (links are to the ADS record for the reference):

In addition, all Starlink SUNs also have bibliographic records on ADS.

Getting Support

The original Starlink web site has been mothballed but additional support can be found:

There is also information on the Starlink wikipedia entry.

Support Pages for Starlink Applications and Libraries

Some Starlink applications and libraries have associated support pages:

Developing and Building the software

The source code is freely available. Development and build questions can be asked on the Starlink development mailing list

The source code is directly available from a Git source code repository. Download the source code:

 % git clone

You can download Git from its home page. A Git primer is available along with the Starlink Git development policies. The bulk of the collection is distributed under the GNU Public Licence, and the remainder under the old Starlink Licence.

The README file in the top level of the source code contains instructions for building. Please also see Building Starlink on macOS for some macOS tips (including a build script and list of dependencies).

Refer to the code in individual packages for more information.

We are trying to write new code in C rather than Fortran since this gives us much more flexibility in terms of threading and compilers. If you are a Fortran programmer familiar with Starlink programming some useful hints are available.

Primarily for local consumption, we also have a list of steps to take when making a release.

EAO and its plans for Starlink in the future (2018-07)

East Asian Observatory does not anticipate moving away from NDF and Starlink for its data format and astronomy software. We have therefore been working to ensure Starlink will still be fit-for-purpose over the next years as we upgrade the instrumentation at the JCMT. The current work has focused on:

allows the larger array sizes necessary with large-format heterodyne instruments.

remove single-thread bottlenecks and allow for long-term maintainability. ARY has been finished in the 2018A release, and NDF is currently being converted.

We would also like to acknowledge the continuing help and support provided by the wider Starlink developer and user communities, and reiterate our continued support of Starlink as an open source project.

We recognize that currently the most popular scripting language among our users is Python, and we are continuing to look at the best ways to allow easy use of NDF and Starlink from Python, and improving interoperability with the wider astronomical python community. Currently, there are existing HDS and NDF python interfaces, the PyAst package, and the starlink-pywrapper package to enable easy calling of Starlink routines from Python.


If you are interested in the history of Starlink there is a lot of documentation available.

Starlink: WelcomePage (last edited 2024-07-01 21:37:49 by GrahamBell)