Welcome to Chimera’s documentation!


Chimera was originally thought of as a Command Line Interface to Observatory Control Systems in the context of astronomical observation. As such it possesses a very complete and strong implementation of tools oriented to terminal based interaction. It is also essentially distributed in nature, meaning it can run across computers, operating systems and networks and provide an integrated control system.

In time, Chimera has acquired wider functionality, like e.g. graphical user interface(s), included support for devices: instruments, cameras, telescopes/domes, etc., access to on line catalogs, integration of external tools.

Chimera: Observatory Automation System

Chimera is a package for control of astronomical observatories, aiming at the creation of remote and even autonomous (“robotic”) observatories in a simple manner. Using Chimera you can easily control telescopes, CCD cameras, focusers and domes in a very integrated way.

Chimera is:

Fully distributed system. You can use different machines to control each instrument and everything will looks like just one.
Very powerful autonomous mode. Give a target and exposure parameters and Chimera does the rest.
Hardware friendly
Support for most common off-the-shelf components. See `supported devices`_.
Very easy to add support for new devices.
Chimera can be used in a very integrated mode but also in standalone mode to control just one instrument.
It’s free (as in free beer), licensed under the GNU license.
A Python Package
All these qualities are the consequence of the chosen programming language: Python.

Getting Started


Your platform of choice will need to have the following software installed:

  • Python 2.7; Chimera has not been ported to Python3 yet.
  • Git;


Chimera currently lives in Github. To install it, go to your install directory, and run:

git clone https://github.com/astroufsc/chimera.git

This will clone the official repository to the working directory. Go to this directory; you will find in its content the typical files used in a distutils based python install, notably setup.py. Your next step is to type:

python setup.py install

Distutils will run, generate eggs, etc., and will install the following python dependencies:

  • CherryPy: 3.2.4
  • PyYAML: 3.10
  • Pyro: 3.16
  • RO: 3.3.0
  • SQLAlchemy: 0.9.1
  • numpy: 1.8.0
  • pyephem:
  • pyfits: : 3.2
  • pyserial: 2.7
  • pysnmp: 4.2.5
  • python-dateutil: 2.2
  • python-sbigudrv: 0.5
  • pywcs: 1.10.2
  • suds: 0.4

Alternative Methods

Python virtual environment

For those constrained by limited access to their platform, restrictions to the system provided python or any other reason, the python tool virtualenv provides an isolated environment in which to install Chimera.

  • Install virtualenv;

  • Go to your install dir, and run:

    virtualenv v_name
  • This will generate a directory named v_name; go in and type

    source bin/activate

    (See the documentation for details).

  • From tyhe same directory, you can now proceed to install as described above.

Virtualization Options

We are currently exploring things like Docker as options to enable undisturbing installations; additionally we think it will allow more streamlined support for cross platform development.


Chimera is Free/Open Software licensed by GPL v2 or later (at your choice).