On Monday, a group of CfA astronomers (Tom Aldcroft, Brian Refsdal, Gus Muench, and myself) announced the availability of a web tutorial aimed at teaching Python to astronomers through a series of interactive workshops:
Practical Python for Astronomers is a series of hands-on workshops to explore the Python language and the analysis tools it provides. The emphasis is on using Python to solve real-world problems that astronomers are likely to encounter in research. Some features:
- Workshops immediately use plotting, analysis, and file reading tools.
- Along the way elements of the Python language are introduced.
- Workshops are interactive using examples run by participants on their laptops.
- Comprehensive instructions a given for installing a full Python environment.
There are two goals. First is to provide tutorials suitable for self-study by those wishing to learn Python for astronomy. The greater goal is for those knowledgable in Python to teach the workshop series at their local institutions, adapting the content as desired. To that end we have developed the content in Sphinx RestructuredText and hosted the source on github at https://github.com/python4astronomers/. Anyone interested can clone the repository or download a tarball and make modifications needed to present the material locally. We would also welcome comments, fixes, or suggestions for improvement. This can be done as a Github issue or pull request, or by sending email to Tom Aldcroft.
The workshop material here was presented in the Spring of 2011 at the Harvard / Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. A range of about 25 to 50 people participated in the different workshops, which were 1.5 hours in duration. One key accomplishment was installing a working Python with NumPy, SciPy, and IPython on over 50 laptops (MacOS, linux, and Windows) during a single session.
Feedback and suggestions are welcome!