Initially I was hoping to just get a good beginner’s handle on programming in Python itself, but now, I’m actually hoping to take away a much larger skill set thanks to our intrepid leader’s overall vision.
Our instructor began off the course by introducing us to a text-editor (Vim) that some people either hate or really hate. (H8TR turned BIV: Believer In Vim). At first I was in the ‘hate’ crowd; I couldn’t figure out how to even begin entering in any text. Some text-editor! As I continue to use it (in this course as well as in the ASTR260 Computational Physics course) I am starting to get a bit of muscle memory for it. It grows on you like a clingy but friendly vime.
WOW. This is like being in a house built by a child using nothing but a hatchet and a picture of a house.
We’re also diving headfirst into version control using Git and GitHub. I’ve even got my own GitHub account set up like a
real genuine bona fide honest to God programmer/scientist/PhD/professor. No more foo_draft.tex → foo_draftier.tex → foo_proof.tex → foo_proofier.tex → foo_proofiest.tex!
I am committed to learning Python because it is becoming one of the most widely used programming languages within the scientific community. During my recent Software Systems for Astronomy intensive through the University of Hawaii at Hilo’s Astronomy department, Dr. Al Conrad talked about how IDL is on the decline within the Astronomical community as its go-to language because of IDL’s cost and proprietary nature. Python is undeniably on the rise.
We report on an informal survey about the use of software in the worldwide astronomical community. The survey was carried out between December 2014 and February 2015. Participants were asked to “Select any of these [programming languages] that you regularly use in your research” <sub-divided by sub-field>
The cost of Python (free!) added to the abundant availability of libraries/packages and its innate readability make it an enticing language to invest the time to learn.
So, my expectations are GR8! I plan to have an array of tools and know-how to offer a research astronomer (for one of their projects) or an observatory on Mauna Kea (for an actual job!) And, yes Brian, I know it will take 10,000 hours.