Hack Day at AAS 221 in Long Beach, CA

Thursday, Jan 10, 2013, Room 203A (Long Beach Convention Center)

What is a hack day?

We are going to get together to write code or work on some other project, fast. The idea is to design a do-able project and fully execute it in one day. Or at least go down trying. Come with a project, or come with deployable skills, ready to deploy.

Examples of hacks from July 2012 DotAstro conference: DotAstro Hacks

Project ideas

  • Twitter and the arXiv: Build real-time metrics on arXiv mentions on Twitter, FB, and so on [AA: make sure you check out http://impactstory.org and http://altmetric.com]. Produce plots (in the browser, of course) and also JSON in response to HTTP requests.
  • Night-sky Android App: Build an app that can either take long exposures or else co-add exposures of the night sky until you can see the stars.
  • Update "New Mac Setup" notes for astronomers somewhere. I have a lot of older notes; but I haven't done a fresh install on a brand new machine in awhile.
    Interested: Kelle
  • I (Jessica Lu) have some code that pulls together several stellar evolution models, interpolates them, spits out a library of isochrones, etc. There are some existing website that do this for a single set of models, but nothing that does it across multiple models. I would love to get the code in a more generic state and possibly write a web service. Ideally it would be modular so that future model grids could easily be plugged in. Anyone from atpy interested in helping out?
  • Same as above but for stellar atmosphere models. There is an excellent code package called pysynphot that does this for you... I am wondering if a web-service on top of this would be useful. — I have written a single Python class for this type of thing which I find to be quite handy. Parser written for Castelli/Kurucz model atmospheres. Could easily be expanded on, including a parser for MARCs models/similar. Gist here: https://gist.github.com/4014140 — Andy Casey

    • I've got a python parser that takes MARCS -> MOOG style, at the very least the filename parser would help to save some minutes.  I always thought it'd be nice to have a centralized set of parsers to translate PHOENIX/Kurucz/MARCS/MOOG/whatever atmospheres -> uber format -> whichever you desire.  Each atmosphere has to contain the necessary information to be translated to any other, right?  It'd make it a heck of a lot easier to check results against different grids (inspired by C. Helling's talk at the last Cool Stars for those who saw it) — Ryan Hamilton (I'll get to the hack day late, my dissertation talk is that morning)
  • Astro-statistics bibliography for all astronomers — wiki page? Mendeley library? [just analyzing the data would be interesting, Alberto - http://blog.albertoconti.com/the-h-r-diagram-of-astronomers-from-theory-to
  • There is a really nice library for working with initial mass functions (Pflamm-Altenberg & Kroupa 2006). It was originally written in Fortran. I converted it to python and have added some useful wrapper functions. This seems like a really useful module for atpy; but it isn't quite complete and could still be improved in structure, etc.  
    Interested: Adam (my attempt at such a library, though far more limited
    ), August (perhaps)
  • How about a hat full of blog post/wiki page ideas that anyone can walk in and draw from. Then AstroBetter editors can be around to help. Interested: Kelle, Emily

    • How to make a personal webpage - This is actually not as obvious as it should be! What are the best tools? Self-hosting vs. Institutional hosting.
    • How to search current educational research publications - Any time I write a teaching plan or broader impacts statement, I wish I knew how to better find new and relevant publications on science education. (Note: there is a poster on a new site called 'Edubites', 248.01, maybe this could be a good option to mention?)
    • Observatory FAQ - Everything you wanted to know about a particular observatory and couldn't easily find on their webpages (local travel info (rent a car, use a vehicle, or take a shuttle?), cost of the dorms (useful for writing funding proposals), what to bring (I have yet to find a hair dryer at an observatory dorm!), facilities, food quality, etc.
  • Create/merge any online database query tools that aren't in astroquery yet.  Interested: August (a la VO), Adam
  • Reproduce paper results: Can we use the current infrastructure (ADS, archives, code) to reproduce results from important/seminal papers? Can we learn something about the science process in the meantime? what are the bottlenecks in aquiring, parsing, filtering, mining and then representing the data? 
  • Update the online cosmology calculator. It works fine, and is invaluable for quick checks, but I think it can be improved. Would like to see sets of default parameters (WMAP7 + BAO, for example) and more output parameters. Interested: Brooke (who thinks this also sounds like a great update for the CosmoCalc Widget, kind of a continuing hack, and actually we could start there instead of the web JS version as the code is newer)
  • Make TOPCAT+VO even easier. No idea how, but it's great, and more people ought to use it! Interested: August (who wonders who wrote this), Brooke (who loves TOPCAT and wants to use it more, in particular more with VO); possible suggestions for additional features:

    • automatically parse ASCII SExtractor multi-line headers and machine-readable tables (can it already do the latter?)
    • save multiple configurations of checked/unchecked columns within a table
  • Astropy Development A never-ending list of tasks that would be useful for the core package is available from the astropy issue tracker. Interested: Kelle
  • IRATE Development: IRATE is a data format designed for storing data from numerical simulation (particle data, halo catalogs, merger trees, galaxy properties etc.) along with relevant meta-data to make sharing data between codes much simpler. Adopting IRATE as a standard format for simulation data would make everyone's lives much easier. Possible projects include writing convertor tools to read/write your favorite simulation data format to/from IRATE, or to modify existing codes to read/write IRATE directly. Interested: Andrew.
  • arXiv reader / private library integration: an interface to read the daily arXiv that allows checking off papers to save for later and file them into user-defined categories (like "galaxy clustering," "need to reference in next paper," etc).  Maybe interface this with the ADS private library feature. The idea is to have something lightweight (it could store the categories and paper identifiers/DOIs locally, or in your dropbox). Paper management systems like Papers or Mendeley allow filing but I think you generally have to download the PDFs, so it doesn't integrate well with the daily scan of arXiv. Also it would be nice to store a non-proprietary format.  Could possibly integrate with Vox Charta?  (Ben) 
  • Astronomy Music Database: I would love to expand this list compiled by Andy Fraknoi to include more songs and develop a more functional database for use in education, outreach, and nerd parties. Ideally it would be easy to search, use, update & share. [This dataset could be interesting EB] [Sweet! bonus points for an SQLite database and python code! ER] (Emily) Interested:
  • "Fund me, maybe" parody/lip dub: From the director of Sh*t Astronomers Say comes the next non-NASA hit (if you haven't seen NASA's Johnson Style, you will soon), "Fund me, maybe". We'll re-write the lyrics to describe science funding (preview: All the other teams, they try to scoop me. But here's my science so fund me, maybe?), record them over a karaoke track, film a bunch of people dancing and singing the new lyrics, and edit everything together, possibly off-site after the AAS.  (led by Emily, email me at emilurice/gmail to help write the lyrics now!) Interested: Brooke (though I'm in no way a singer/songwriter), Bekki,  WE DID IT!
  • What an Astronomer looks like: Every time I see an 'astronomer' on TV-- inevitably an old white guy who used to be on star trek wearing a lab coat, with crazy hair, a tie with planets on it, and also a he's the murderer (okay, that was just one episode of NCIS) I am reminded that there can never be enough REAL depictions of scientists in the media. Inspired by this great tumblr, I propose that we take advantage of this gathering of hundreds of astronomers, and advertise for people to come by Thursday, share a photo and a quick interview, and start a 'Real Astronomers' wiki or tumblr (Betsy). Interested: 
  • AAS Meeting App: Lots of people are griping that they wish there was a smartphone app with a searchable full meeting program that allowed the user to create a personalized schedule and would remind them of where they needed to be at the right time (and showed them how to get there). Wouldn't it be great if the first #hackAAS created a program that would be highly useful to all future AAS attendees?



Participant skills and interests



  • Alberto Accomazzi (CfA): Python, PERL, ADS, information sharing
  • Eric Bellm* (Caltech):  Python, IDL, C, machine learning  (*may be away observing instead)
  • Andrew Benson (Carnegie): Python, C, etc.
  • Alberto Conti (STScI): R, C#/Mono, data archives, web apps (_must learn python apparently_)
  • Kelle Cruz (Hunter College & AMNH): information sharing
  • Bekki Dawson (CfA): IDL, cartoons, iMovie, antics and shenanigans
  • Greg Feiden (Dartmouth): Fortran, Python, stellar evolution modeling
  • Adam Ginsburg (CU): Python, IDL, spectroscopy
  • Ryan Hamilton (NMSU): Python, spectroscopy, general hackery. Interested in learning web apps stuff.
  • David W. Hogg (NYU): Python, SDSS data, probabilistic inference
  • Adam Kraus (CfA): IDL, Fortran, mining large datasets, astrometry, travel optimization
  • Jessica Lu (IfA): Python, information sharing, web tools
  • Matt Mechtley (ASU): Python, C# (Mono/Unity3D), HST data, large datasets, games/interactive viz, MCMC
  • August Muench (CfA): Python, information sharing, data archives/VO, 
  • Betsy Mills (UCLA): IDL, Python, CASA, radio astronomy techniques
  • Emily Rice (CUNY/AMNH): IDL, Python, HTML, CSS, pop music, outreach & education
  • Kevin Schawinski (ETHZ): IDL, SDSS data, stellar pops modelling
  • Meg Schwamb (Yale): IDL, Python, C, citizen science
  • Brooke Simmons (Oxford): IDL, C, some Python, citizen science, HST data, SDSS data
  • Charles Steinhardt (Kavli IPMU): IDL, C/C++, SQL, mining large datasets, ASP.NET/web interfaces, SDSS data
  • Kyle Willett (Minnesota): IDL, Python, citizen science
  • Justin Vasel (UM-Duluth): HTML, CSS, APIs, Python
  • Michele Vallisneri (JPL): Python, C/C++, Matlab, Mathematica, HTML/CSS, time-series analysis, inference 
  • Ashish Mahabal (Caltech): Many these and those. Currently perl -> python
  • Leo Singer (Caltech): Python, C/C++, parallel algorithms, signal processing, web apps, LIGO data analysis, Cocoa (iPhone and Mac OS), GStreamer, GTK
  • Matthew Graham (Caltech): Python, Java, Fortran, machine learning, web services, databases, semantics

Twitter Lists and Hashtags

We're using #hackAAS tag for all tweets related to the Hack Day, and we've started a twitter list of all participants (tweet with #hackAAS to get added)

Page last modified on Tuesday 31 of December, 2013 08:51:44 EST