Introducing the AstroBetter Wiki

by Jessica Lu on January 27, 2010

As part of our efforts to “astro better” we have started a new wiki. This wiki was originally hosted at MacSingularity but has now been migrated over and substantially expanded.  You can get to the wiki from the menu bar above. Unlike the blog, anyone can register and edit the wiki content. We will frequently update the wiki ourselves with content and links to relevant blog posts; but we also hope that all of our readers will help keep the wiki content updated.

Goals for the AstroBetter wiki

Our goal for this wiki is to present some of the same information discussed in the AstroBetter blog posts in a format that is more useful as a reference. For instance, we have a very useful Mac Setup Guide for Astronomers that walks through a typical installation and setup, including common applications, for new Macs (the page has not been updated for Snow Leopard and we could use your help). Additionally, we have a section on Astronomical Methods, including observing and data analysis with pages for individual instruments. We hope that the instrument wiki pages will be a place for people to share information such as observing logs, signal-to-noise calculators, custom scripts, useful links, and observing experiences as currently, many observatories do not provide a place for the user community to interact amongst themselves in this way. We have already added the instruments we use frequently; but we are really relying on you to add info from other observatories at all wavelengths.

Wiki Editing

In order to edit the wiki, you will need to register for a wiki account. Registration requires administrative approval so there may be a slight delay before you can proceed with editing; but this prevents spam. If you have trouble editing or are not comfortable with wiki syntax, feel free to email admin [at] astrobetter.com with your suggested modifications and we will incorporate them. If you don’t know where your content should go, again, please email us and we can stub something out in the proper place for your content.

We hope that you find the AstroBetter wiki useful and consider contributing to it. In particular, if you have content on your individual homepages that you were willing to share, such as tutorials, useful links, and code snippets, please consider putting it on AstroBetter since it will live longer and hopefully prosper even after you have moved on to your next institution.  Happy wiki editing!

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Marshall January 27, 2010 at 7:16 pm

Nice! I’ll definitely take a look.

There are (of course) quite a few astronomy-related wikis out there already, serving various different communities (for instance the Berkeley Astro Department Grad Students wiki, or the Integral Field Spectroscopy Wiki. Do you intend the Astrobetter wiki to focus on any one particular area (productivity, software and tools?) or is it pretty much anything goes?

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2 Kelle January 27, 2010 at 9:09 pm

My personal vision is “anything goes.” I’d be happy if AstroBetter was one-stop-shopping. If you have useful content that doesn’t have a home, feel free to put it here.

As Jessica mentioned, if someone has something to share but doesn’t want it on their personal webpage, or that url is too temporary or not interactive enough, I’d be happy for it to live here. For example, I really think it makes sense to put observing and data reduction notes on the AstroBetter Wiki instead of on a personal webpage. At least on the wiki, there’s the potential for the community of users to comment, ask questions, and/or make modifications as necessary independent of the original author…and independent of the usually disappointing “official” support pages.

But, we’ll see how it goes and what it turns into…

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3 Jessica January 27, 2010 at 11:42 pm

Hopefully, we can collect links to many of those other astronomy related wikis you are referring to. For instance, on the Keck OSIRIS page, I included a link to the IFS wiki you referenced. The Berkeley wiki is interesting, but I think we might just link to various parts of it (e.g. Latex/Bibtex). If there are other sites hosting excellent content already, I am happy if we just link to them… we don’t need to duplicate effort.

Many other astro-wiki efforts suffer eventually because of the lack of an audience. The nice thing about pairing the wiki and blog is that the blog keeps bringing people into the site with new articles and the wiki provides a useful reference to past blog articles and comments.

Here is an example of how I like to use the wiki. Recently, I needed to calibrate some NIR imaging data for absolute photometry using IRAF. There were about 8 different (and all useful) documents/webpages/notes on how to do this. So rather than just making personal bookmarks or storing the links only in my research notebook, I started an absolute photometry page under Data Reduction and put all the links there. Now perhaps it will be of value to someone else; but if I ever need to do this again, I can easily find the references. The page is by no means complete (I would like to add links to the various standard-star catalogs, etc.); but it is a start.

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4 Amanda K January 28, 2010 at 3:30 pm

Just found this website a couple of months ago. It’s been really handy to have all these tips and tricks in the same place.

One thing that I’m been thinking on is making figures with images. I tend to do this a lot and the process is really laborious. I know APLpy is an options, but it chokes on radio astronomy images, which typically have at least four axis (RA, DEC, Frequency, and Stokes). I’d appreciate it if people could post more info/suggestions on the wiki for this sort of thing.

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5 Michael Muno January 30, 2010 at 4:37 pm

I’ve talked to Jessica about this, and I plan to migrate the stuff that I’ve written for my Wiki over here. I don’t get much traffic, and I’ve found that limits my motivation to spend evenings and weekends writing tutorials. We’ll see whether a site with more traffic makes me more motivated.

Anyway, I started with a couple pages on Periodicity Analysis. I’ll migrate other stuff over as I have time.

I had other ambitions as well. One was to write other pages as well, such as lists of observatories and their pros and cons. The idea there is that I could find out which, say, IR spectrograph I should be using for a project. Another idea was to link snippets of code as examples of how to implement algorithms. I thought this would be a way to share code without having to support it. Any thoughts?

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