since 1965  (really?)

Python for Astronomers

This course listing applies to a Spring 2016 course. To find current courses, check out the Find a Course page.

Spring 2016
ASTRON 98/198
2 Unit(s)

Human friendly URL (OBSOLETE)


About the Course:

Course Description

This course is an introductory course in the use of the Python programming language, with an emphasis on its applications to research in Astronomy, Physics, and other sciences. The examples and exercises used in the course are geared toward Astronomy and Physics majors as a preparation for the upper division laboratory courses and research in general. However, all of the fundamentals of python are covered in generality, so any student who is interested in programming can gain proficiency in python by attending. The course assumes no prior knowledge in any programming language. The first half of the course primarily focuses on building the toolset for working on UNIX based computer networks and writing basic programs and functions in python, while the second half introduces applications and more advanced skills, such as data analysis and image manipulation. The course also briefly covers the essentials of the scientific typesetting language LATEX, as well as HTML, which can be used to create research websites.


Course Objectives

At the culmination of the course, students will be comfortable with navigating and working in a UNIX network environment. They will be able to write programs in the python programming language, to read, manipulate, plot, and view data of various types, including astronomical images, and will be comfortable with the logical flow of programming languages in general. Finally, students will have the skills needed to write as scientific document in LATEX and build a research website in HTML.


Class Format

Class will meet twice a week, once for lecture and once for lab. Lab days require the use of a computer, and will be used for the completion of in class tutorials (with guidance from the facilitators) to practice and solidify the concepts from the previous lecture. The tutorials lead directly into the homework for the upcoming week.


Required Texts

There are no externally required texts for this course. All material needed will be presented in the textbook (available at, or in associated tutorial and homework documents, or in posted lecture slides.



Grades will be assigned on a 2 unit P/NP basis. Grades will be based on the following breakdown:

  • Participation and Attendance: 25%
  • In class tutorial exercises: 50%
    • Tutorials are graded based on completion, attempt, and timeliness.
    • Tutorials turned in up to 1 week late can receive up to 60% credit, if done properly
    • Tutorials turned in on time that are mostly complete with few errors earn 100%
  • A Final Project/ Presentation:  25%
    • This is split in half between a presentation portion and the code itself


How to Enroll:

Our enrollment policy is primarily a first come, first serve basis, with priority seating given to those with majors of Astrophysics. 

To sign up, follow this link:

Course Contact: ipasha AT ; cagostino AT


Faculty Sponsor: Mariska Kriek

Time & Location:

Section 1Christopher Agostino
Imad Pasha
60131 New Campbell HallMW 7p-8p1/20full

Uploaded Files:

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Course info last modified November 23, 2015. This page has been viewed 3554 times.

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