[AstroPy] Python version of IDL Astron library

Paul Barrett barrett at stsci.edu
Tue Sep 7 14:09:37 CDT 2004

Dear Astro-pythoneers,

As part of my functional duties at STScI, I have been tasked with developing a 
Python version of the IDL Astron Library, at least the most relevant parts of 
it. I began with a rewrite of the IDLDB module last winter, however I have not 
been able to complete it due to other higher priority projects, namely 
matplotlib development and CALSTIS maintainance.  While at the SciPy 2004 
Conference at CalTech last week (Sep 2-3), Lee Rottler and Joe Harrington 
suggested that a good mechanism to get astronomers to migrate from IDL to Python 
would be a Python version of the IDL Astron library .  After further discussion, 
it was decided that I would solicit help from the AstroPy community and would 
coordinate such a project.

The IDL Astronomy User's Library (http://idlastro.gsfc.nasa.gov/contents.html) 
web page lists 18 software categories, however in my opinion, only 8 of them 
have functions or procedures that are of current interest to astronomers and 
have not already been duplicated by other Python modules.  The FITS procedures 
are a good example, since most, if not all, of this functionality is duplicated 
in the pyfits module.  I have identified the following categories as requiring 

  o Astronomical Utilities
  o DAOPHOT-Type Photometry Procedures
  o Database Procedures
  o Disk I/O (MIDAS, IRAF files)
  o Image Manipulation
  o Math and Statistics
  o Robust Statistics Procedures
  o Miscellaneous (Non-Astronomy) Procedures

I have refrained from listing the procedures in each category, since there are a 
large number of them.  Instead, I will add a page to the AstroPy web site in the 
next few days, if there is sufficient interest in the project by the AstroPy 
community.  I do not expect developers to devote are large percentage of their 
time to this project, unless they want to of course, but to contribute two or 
three procedures that are of interest to them over the next year.  I will 
coordinate the integration of these procedures into a Python package and check 
that the necessary documentation and test code has been included.

Any takers?

  -- Paul

Paul Barrett, PhD      Space Telescope Science Institute
Phone: 410-338-4475    ESS/Science Software Branch
FAX:   410-338-4767    Baltimore, MD 21218
AstroPy mailing list     -      astropy at stsci.edu

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