This is a guest post from Prof. Marla Geha at Yale University. Her research focuses on the formation, evolution, and destruction of dwarf galaxies.
I’ve wanted to jump on the python bandwagon for a while. I’m an IDL programmer, but IDL licenses are becoming more annoying to maintain/afford. The excuse that python doesn’t provide the same astro-specific functionalities doesn’t seem valid anymore. I was further motivated to learn python as I teach an undergraduate astronomy research methods class — teaching in python (versus IDL or IRAF) just makes more sense.
With a short attention span and endless distractions, there is little chance I was going to ‘sit down’ for a few days on my own to work through a python book or website. Instead I decided to gather a number of like-minded people in my department and run a do-it-yourself (DIY) python workshop. We worked one full day and 2 half days. Everyone in our group was an IDL user. No python expert was needed, although we did bring one in on the second day for questions.