[astropy-dev] A new Python astronomy package for HiPS : Hierarchical Progressive Surveys

(Christie Koehler) #1

Hi everyone,

it is our pleasure to announce the release of version 0.1 of a new package:

hips - A Python astronomy package for HiPS : Hierarchical Progressive Surveys

If you don’t know what HiPS is, have a look here:

At the moment, the Python hips package supports fetching and drawing HiPS image tiles
into a sky image of a geometry (a WCS projection and shape) of your choosing.

There are (at least) already two existing HiPS clients: Aladin Desktop (Java) and Aladin Lite (JavaScript).
Those are great, so why build this Python package?

The Python HiPS package can be useful if you want to continue to analyse or store the pixel data from Python,
or make publication-quality images e.g. using astropy.visualization.wcsaxes,
and not just display it, or if you want to script the generation of many sky images from Python scripts.

Install this package as usual:

pip install hips

This should work on Linux and Mac, with the latest Python 3.6.

Windows is not supported at the moment
(because we use healpy as a dependency, and healpy isn’t supported on Windows)

As a new package, we decided to take the leap and make this Python 3 only,
and use the latest features in Python 3.6. If you would like to use this package,
but can’t upgrade to Python 3.6, let us know; we could add support for Python 3.5.

This package is being developed as part of Google Summer of Code 2017 program
by Adeel Ahmad, with Thomas Boch (CDS, Strasbourg) and Christoph Deil (MPIK, Heidelberg) as mentors.
We would like to thank Google, CDS, MPIK for their support!

If you’re interested in further developments, you should follow Adeel’s blog: https://adl1995.github.io/ https://adl1995.github.io/

Also: thanks to the Astropy team for developing and maintaining the
affiliated package-template and the ci-helpers! The recently introduced cookie-cutter
makes it even quicker to set up a new package like this one in a good, maintainable way.

This version 0.1 release is following the “release early and often” philosophy.
The hips package is in a very early stage of development, it is not feature complete or API stable!
The plan is to produce a better version 0.2 (in terms of functionality, API, performance, docs)
by the end end of GSoC in August.

We’re looking for feedback, please try it out and let us know what you think!

Specifically, we’re interested to hear at https://github.com/hipspy/hips/issues https://github.com/hipspy/hips/issues from you if:

  • something doesn’t work,
  • there’s a missing feature that you want,
  • you have suggestions how to improve the API.

We’re also looking for contributors!

Specifically, help on the following tasks would be highly welcome:

  • Make and maybe even maintain a conda package for us, preferably at conda-forge.
  • Replace the use of healpy with code (e.g. continuing https://github.com/cdeil/healpix https://github.com/cdeil/healpix
    or starting something new), which we have isolated in a small wrapper layer at hips.utils.healpix already.
    This is mainly so that this package becomes available on Windows.
    We think this package could be useful for hobby astronomers or education, to have a ton
    of astronomy survey data ready for fetching and analysis with astronomy Python packages
    at your fingertips, so Windows support would be nice.
  • Extend the functionalities of the package beyond a HiPS image client:
    work with HiPS catalogs, HiPS cubes or go the other way: generate HiPS data from WCS or HEALPix data.
  • Things you’d like to do with HiPS, but we haven’t even thought of yet!

If you’re interested or have feedback for us, please get in touch via a Github issue or pull request.

Adeel, Thomas and Christoph

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