Learn Software Carpentry at #AAS229

Azalee Bostroem (@astro_az) is a graduate student in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of California, Davis.

Do you find yourself reading code in Python, sometimes attempting to update it, and all the time wishing you had been taught some Python in undergrad or graduate school? As astronomers we find ourselves frequently reading, updating, and writing code without any formal training. Most of us are self-taught and as a result haven’t learned many tools that would make our job (and/or thesis) faster and easier. We are offering an abbreviated Software Carpentry Workshop at the AAS 229 Meeting aimed at beginner programmers from any career stage (undergraduate to professor, researcher, industry expert…).

We will start the day by introducing the bash shell and learning how to navigate different directories and run scripts. This will allow you to begin to automate you work so you don’t have to sit at your computer watching for one script to finish so you can start another one. It will also allow you to leave a record of exactly what you did so you can reproduce your analysis at anytime. Next we will dive into programming in Python. We will spend half the day getting acquainted with Python so you can start to write your own scripts and giving you the tools to continue exploring the Python world on your own. Finally, we will end with an introduction to version control with git. This will allow you to keep a complete history of all the work you’ve done and give you the tools to freely explore changing your code without the fear of breaking it permanently. The workshop will be conducted as a hands on tutorial. Although knowledge can be gained through watching the instructor we highly recommend that you bring your own laptop so you can follow along and take part in the exercises.

Taking this course 4 years ago fundamentally changed the way I write code exposing me to coding styles and tools that I wish I’d learned so much earlier. I hope you consider joining us on January 3 in Texas.

Register for #AAS229 and this workshop by Thursday, 29 September to avoid paying higher rates. Find rates and details on the Society’s registration page, and be sure to check out the other workshops and events taking place during the meeting, as well. More details on this workshop and contact information can be found here:


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