Astrophysics and eResearch!

By Kaitlin Logie, 2nd December 2016.

eResearch in Astronomy?

In the era of big data and data science, Dr. Arna Karick started a motion in association with Inspire9 to help promote digital literacy in astronomers. The ultimate goal being to build a community of “tech Savvy astronomers”! This in turn creates researchers with tech-focussed and development skills in addition to their astronomy specific skills.

eResearch provides a tool box of skills that enable astrophysics researchers to effectively manage the complex “big” datasets that will arise from the amazing next generation telescopes and surveys which are constantly growing and becoming more complex! The ability to contribute to open source software and tools helps develop the skills needed to build simple tools for your own specific research and the broader community! Bringing all astronomers together with other science disciplines to begin to interact and learn from each other on a huge scale.

Becoming an astronomer with digital literacy is advantageous and definitely not a hard skill set to learn!


(image by scott russell)

What tools are available to me as an astronomer interested in eResearch?

There are many different tools available based all over the world. There are many tutorials, workshops and videos being developed and released as the community grows. At the moment in Melbourne Dr. Arna Karick has been actively engaging in developing the eResearch community within Astronomy further by running workshops and tutorial classes in person such as “Astro Hack Week” and “Python in Astronomy”. If you are interested in contacting her further about how to get involved or recreate what she has been doing in Melbourne contact her directly. is a research tool created by Dr. Arna Karick that enables astronomers to find and access tools available to them at one click of a button. Discover new tools that can be gradually integrated into every research, or used to build up a portfolio of projects, most of which already used by current researchers.


(Image by UCL Mathematical)

At the University of Auckland the Astronomy department is ever-growing. Although we have heard no word of any similar workshops in eResearch, I’m sure there is potential with enough interest to organise such workshops.

What is AstroPy?

AstroPy is a Python library designed specifically for Astronomy and Cosmology!


AstroPy is written in the Python programming language and was designed due to the increasingly widespread use of Python by astronomers as the eResearch community grows. It is an extremely useful and effective eResearch tool that can be used easily for areas such as:

  • Representing gridded and tabular data as multidimensional arrays or tables.
  • Unit and physical quantity conversions.
  • Physical constants specific to astronomy.
  • Celestial coordinate and time transformations.
  • World coordinate system support.
  • Virtual observatory tables.
  • Framework for cosmology transformations and conversions.
  • toolset for statistical analyses.

It is used by many big companies and research teams and is an excellent tool for researchers of many disciplines to come together and effectively improve their research skills. Contact us more to hear about how we can help you learn AstroPy.


(image by brian.abeling)






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