Astro 120

Today ended up being an AY120 day. I got some transit photometry data from JohnJohn, and spent some time exploring the pyfits module to see how to work with FITS data in Python. The basic mechanics are obvious enough. I spent some time reading JohnJohn’s reduction routines (written in IDL) trying to get a sense of how the data should be dealt with at a higher level. I have a vague sense of how aperture photometry and flatfielding should happen but it’s been a little while since I’ve had to do them for real. If I had a full toolset, a day or so of experimentation would be enough, I think, but I don’t know of a way to plot 2D arrays (i.e., images) in Python. I’ll probably implement something in OmegaPlot, but it will probably require a nontrivial amount of new code, in which case I’m awfully tempted to sit down and rework the internals. But doing that will probably take a week and it’s hard to justify that kind of time sink. I should just bite the bullet and use PIL or something as a stopgap.

After picking up new glasses and going to the jobs meeting, we actually had the first 120 course meeting. Things look promising, but time- consuming — I left at 9:30 PM, half an hour after the scheduled end of the class, and pretty much all of the undergraduates were still there. It looks like it’s going to be a lot of fun to work with them. I just hope there are enough hours in the day to do that justice while still accomplishing something resembling real research.