Plot positions on a blank map#

This example showcases how to plot positions on a blank map. It is often useful to plot coordinate positions of events on a blank helioprojective coordinate map. In this example, we create an empty map with a WCS defined by a helioprojective frame as observed from Earth at a certain time, and show how you can plot different coordinates on it.

import matplotlib.pyplot as plt
import numpy as np

import astropy.units as u
from astropy.coordinates import SkyCoord

from sunpy.coordinates import frames

First we will create a blank map using with an array of zeros. Since there is no WCS information, we will need to construct a header to pass to Map.

data = np.full((10, 10), np.nan)

# Define a reference coordinate and create a header using
skycoord = SkyCoord(0*u.arcsec, 0*u.arcsec, obstime='2013-10-28',
                    observer='earth', frame=frames.Helioprojective)

# Scale set to the following for solar limb to be in the field of view
header =, skycoord, scale=[220, 220]*u.arcsec/u.pixel)

# Use to create the blank map
blank_map =, header)

Now we have constructed the map, we can plot it and mark important locations to it. Initialize the plot and add the map to it

fig = plt.figure()
ax = fig.add_subplot(projection=blank_map)
blank_map.draw_limb(axes=ax, color="k")
blank_map.draw_grid(axes=ax, color="k")
<CoordinatesMap with 2 world coordinates:

  index aliases    type   unit    wrap   format_unit visible
  ----- ------- --------- ---- --------- ----------- -------
      0     lon longitude  deg 180.0 deg         deg     yes
      1     lat  latitude  deg      None         deg     yes


Coordinates that are being plotted - (0, 0), (50, 100) and (400, 400).

xc = [0, 50, 400] * u.arcsec
yc = [0, 100, 400] * u.arcsec

Plot the blank map with the specified coordinates. Note that the marker for (0, 0) in helioprojective coordinates is at the center of the solar disk, yet the heliographic equator (zero degrees latitude) does not go through the disk center and instead curves below it. The reason for that is the observer, specified as Earth in this example, is almost always at non-zero heliographic latitude, and disk center as seen by such an observer will have that same heliographic latitude. The B0() function returns Earth’s heliographic latitude at a specified time.

coords = SkyCoord(xc, yc, frame=blank_map.coordinate_frame)
ax.plot_coord(coords, 'o')
ax.set_title('Plotting fixed points on a blank map')
Plotting fixed points on a blank map

Total running time of the script: (0 minutes 0.595 seconds)

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