I strongly endorse the use of Python (3!). The learning curve is a bit steep, but I think one is rewarded with its modularity and versatility. To that end:

My Python Documentation

    The technical documentation for much of my older Python code is on this page, though I've begun to post more of these codes here on Github -- if you see something interesting there, let me know and I'll send it to you (eventually I might get around to putting it up on this website!)

Productivity Enhancements

Data analysis

  • SciSoft compilation -- Once upon a time, SciSoft was the way to go if you wanted to compute and plot with Python. It contains SciPy, PyRaf, and others. (OS X binary). However, internet searches today (2016 or later) will reveal better, more modern alternatives such as Anaconda
    • SciPy -- Scientific Python, an essential component
    • PyRaf -- standard IRAF wrapped in a colorful Python shell
  • SFTP client implemented in Python
  • AstroAsciiData, your does-it-all Python assistant for handling ASCII data

Great tools

EnGauge Digitizer -- take a bitmap image and extract data curves from it! Fantastic, easy to use, and comes with various samples and tutorials.

Generally useful links

AstroBetter -- a blog for mac-using professional astronomers
Python forum
IRAF forum

Tips and Tricks

  • Convert PNGs into a movie:
    1. Save a bunch of PNGs
    2. At the command line:
      mencoder "mf://*.png" -mf w=800:h=600:fps=75:type=png -ovc copy -oac copy -o output.avi
      Now you have an MPNG AVI file, which most viewers (VLC excepted) can't read.
    3. Open the new movie in VLC
    4. Open the "Streaming/Transcoding Wizard"
    5. Transcode the video to the H.264 codec using the MPEG4/MP4 encapsulation format
    6. Voila -- Mac OS X/Quicktime should be able to read the resulting MP4 file