Running the BEAST requires:

  • Python >=3.5
  • 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
  • Make sure that the PyTables and hdf5 packages are installed
$ conda install -n astroconda pytables

$ conda install -n astroconda hdf5

Installing the BEAST

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

Using pip

beast can also be installed using pip

$ pip install beast

if you already have an older version installed

$ pip install --upgrade beast

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 be installed from the source code in the normal python fashion after cloning from the git repo or downloading from Github

$ python 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
$ python install

If you would like to modify beast, you may want to use links instead of installing, which is best done by replacing the last line with

$ python develop

For developers

This option is suitable if you plan to make code contributions to the BEAST. See the BEAST Development for details.

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.


There are 3 possible locations for these files (in the order the code will search for them):

  1. in a directory designated by the BEAST_LIBS environment variable
  2. in the ‘.beast’ directory in the home directory of the current user
  3. in the source code in ‘beast/beast/libs’

Whichever of the options used, the directory needs to be manually created.

Manual download


Note that the archive at this link contains a folder called files. The _contents_ of this folder are the library files required by beast. It is these files that need to be places within (any of) the possible locations given above.

Script download

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

$ python -m

Running Example

You can find examples of BEAST runs in the beast/examples/ directory.

Inside each example, there is a run_beast*.py script.

phat_small example

This example is based on a very small amount of old PHAT data.

If the beast has not been installed (only downloaded from github), then In the ‘phat_small’ directory, place a soft link named ‘beast’ to where the beast code is located. Specifically

$ cd examples/phat_small

$ ln -s beast_code_loc/beast/beast beast

If you installed Python through AstroConda, first activate the correct AstroConda environment

$ source activate astroconda

Verify that the current default Python is version 3

$ python --version

Next, bring up the BEAST help message, which describes the available switch options, with

$ ./ -h

You should be presented with the following options:

-h, --help              show this help message and exit
-p, --physicsmodel      Generate the model grid
-o, --observationmodel  Calculate the noise model
-t, --trim              Trim the model and noise grids
-f, --fit               Fit the observed data
-r, --resume            Resume a run

Now launch a sample BEAST run (with flags set to run through the full sequence of generation of physics model, observation model generation, trimming of the grid, and fitting to the observed data) using

$ ./ -potf

If the BEAST is running correctly, this command should run without errors and should have written the output files into ‘beast_example_phat/’. The result can be plotted using

$ python beast/plotting/ beast_example_phat/beast_example_phat

The argument for this script is the prefix of the output files. The output should look like this