Installation instructions


Running the BEAST requires:

  • Python >= 3.7

  • Astropy >= 1.3

In turn, Astropy depends on other packages for optional features. From these you will need:

  • hdf5 to read/write Table objects from/to HDF5 files.

You will also need:

  • PyTables to manage large amounts of data.

One easy way to obtain the above is through the AstroConda Python stack:

  • First install Miniconda which contains the conda package manager. Once Miniconda is installed, you can use the conda command to install any other packages and create environments, etc.

  • Setup the AstroConda Channel

$ conda config --add channels
  • Install AstroConda with Python 3 (recommended)

$ conda create -n astroconda stsci
  • Ensure the minimum Python requirements above are met. If needed, specify the minimum version required

$ python --version
$ conda create -n astroconda stsci python=3.7
  • Make sure that the PyTables and hdf5 packages are installed

$ conda install -n astroconda pytables

$ conda install -n astroconda hdf5

Installation for Users

In addition to installing the code, library files also need to be installed. See BEAST Library Files.


The numpy package must be installed before installing the BEAST. This package is needed as part of the installation process, not just as a prerequisite for running the BEAST.

Using pip

beast can be installed using pip:

$ pip install beast

If you already have an older version installed, use:

$ pip install --upgrade beast

Or, from the master trunk on the repository, considered developmental code:

$ pip install git+

From source

If you are happy with your current environment, beast can also be installed from the source code in the normal python fashion after cloning from the git repo or downloading from Github

$ pip install .

If you are using conda, you may wish to create a conda environment with the dependencies before doing the install

$ conda env create -n beast --file conda-environment.yml
$ conda activate beast
$ pip install .

Installation for Developers

If you plan on modifying the beast in addition to running the code, it may be useful to create a development installation. First, create a fork of the official beast repository and clone it:

$ git clone

Optionally, you can rename this cloned copy:

$ git clone beast-YourName

Set the value of the fork’s ‘upstream’ to the official distribution so you can incorporate changes made by others to your development fork. In the clone of your fork, run the following:

$ git remote add upstream

In order to run a development installation, navigate to the directory in your beast repository that contains, and run:

$ pip install -e .

Installation for Production Runs

Using a dedicated conda environment for production BEAST runs may be desirable. Such an environment provides a way to ensure that production runs are reproducible by fixing the versions of all the software used. The instructions below assume that the astroconda channel is being used.

Create a conda environment, and name it differently from your default and other environments:

$ conda create -n beast_production python=3.6

Activate the environment after all the packages are finished installing:

$ conda activate beast_production

Install dependencies using conda (better for speed):

$ conda install astropy scipy h5py matplotlib cython

Next, install the BEAST. You have three options:

Option 1: Use pip to install a stable version of the BEAST (e.g. v1.3):

$ pip install beast==1.3

Option 2: Get the latest production branch, which can be ahead of the pypi version:

$ pip install git+

Option 3: If you’ll be doing development, follow the instructions above (Installation for Developers). Note that you can make separate environments for development and production modes.

The BEAST production version is now ready for use. Note, you need to activate this conda environment every time you want to use this installed version.

BEAST Library Files

For the BEAST to work properly, you need to place a set of files in a directory. These files contain information related to filters, stellar atmospheres, and in the future stellar evolution models.

Manual download

The required library files can be manually acquired from:

Note that the archive at this link contains a folder called files. The contents of this folder are the library files required by the BEAST. These files need to be placed within (any of) the possible locations specified in Location.

Script download

Alternatively, after installing the BEAST, run the following script and the library files will be downloaded into the location specified in Location:

$ beast get_libfiles


There are 2 possible locations for the required library files. The possible locations are (in the order the code will search for them):

  1. In a directory designated by a BEAST_LIBS environment variable.

  2. In the .beast directory in the home directory of the current user (ie, ~/.beast); this is usually the easiest and will be automatically created if it doesn’t exist.