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The newsletter of the SIE de Investigación y Enseñanza N. 29 - March/April 2009

SIEminar: Statistical Acrobatics with R, by S. Comeron, on May 6th

R is one of the software packages with the shortest name, but with the largest array of capabilities. It is a language and environment for statistical computing and graphics, and provides a wide variety of statistical (linear and nonlinear modelling, classical statistical tests, time-series analysis, classification, clustering, ...) and graphical techniques. One of R's strengths is the ease with which well-designed publication-quality plots can be produced, including mathematical symbols and formulae where needed. In this talk, Sebastien will give a short introduction to R, and will show us how his own research has benefitted from it.

"Introduction to Python for Astronomers" course - lessons learned

Last month we gave a one-week introductory course to the Python programming language for astronomers. It was a participation success, as about thirty people registered and attended, so that we had to move to the Aula instead of using a meeting room as initially planned. About half of the participants also sent us their opinions and suggestions through the course's survey: we learned that the course was a little bit too intensive (though this is normal for a general-purpouse language), that it is preferable to dilute (for instance a class every other day), and that we should also assign some homework; the overall evaluation of the course in general was very good. If you missed it, there are webcasts available, see the links in the SIEpedia; if you cannot wait to try Python, check out this HOWTO guide.

"Advances in Computational Astrophysics" special issue of CISE Journal

Only a quick note to inform you that the latest (March 2009) issue of the Computing in Science and Engineering Journal is dedicated to astrophysics. At the IAC we are subscribed both to the paper and to the on-line versions of the journal, so you can check the articles from the comfort of your armchair by pointing your browser at

Share your code with the IAC community!

As you probably know, several applications have been developed here at the IAC and made available to the worldwide astronomical community, for instance IAC-STAR, or the IRAF package LIRISDR (for the complete list, see If you have developed any code or tool that you think can be of interest to other researchers, we encourage you to add it to the above Web page: get in touch with to discuss the details. If however you prefer to limit the visibility of your code or tool to within the IAC, please write to and we'll look into the best way to publish it in the IAC intranet or in an IAC-only area of the SIE Web site.

Astronomical Software Wants To Be Free

Many public astronomical software packages written by lone astronomers or small teams, such as DAOPHOT, SExtractor and GALFIT, have enabled easily as much science as a large telescope would have, but at a fraction of the cost. Unfortunately, software development is not seen as "doing science", and has much less recognition and appreciation in the astronomical community than it does deserve. Two white papers submitted to the Astro2010: The Astronomy and Astrophysics Decadal Survey address many important issues about Astronomical Software: Astronomical Data Reduction and Analysis for the Next Decade and Astronomical Software Wants To Be Free: A Manifesto, and make for a very interesting read.
P.S. The above US Decadal Survey website also contains more than three hundred Science White Papers about practically every topic in Astronomy.

New burro machine available

As you probably know, at the IAC we have a number of "burro"s (workstations with high-speed CPUs and "plenty" of RAM) available. These are all freely accessible, and with the addition of dardo, we now have four different options with the following characteristics:
  • dardo: Remote free access, 2 AMD quad-core (64 bits) processors (8 cores @ 2.4GHz), 64GB RAM, 450GB HD
  • rucio: Remote free access, 2 AMD dual-core (64 bits) processors (4 cores @ 2GHz), 16GB RAM, 120GB HD
  • esel: User room, free access, 2 Intel Xeon (32 bits) processors (2 cores @ 3.2GHz), 4GB RAM,450GB HD
SIE de Investigación y Enseñanza :: N. 29 - March/April 2009 - Contact: