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Why do we use IRAF?

  1. Jun 11, 2010 #1
    :uhh: title says it all...why..
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 11, 2010 #2


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    You haven't seen the stuff we used to use on VMS before iraf!
    Remember it was designed in the late 80s for machines in the early 90s, when 32mb of memory was a server and you had to book 300Mb of disk space weeks in advance.
  4. Jun 12, 2010 #3
    Really? I kind assumed IRAF was a little older than that and the first. I have read some user guides talking about images stored on magnetic tape... Guess I'm just jealous of some of the (all be it expensive) "amateur" software with the pretty GUIs. Is there a reason IRAF is better than those?
  5. Jun 12, 2010 #4


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    There are probably amateur astronomy packages that do better image display than saoimage these days.
    The big advantage of iraf is that it's a programming environment, so if you need to background subtract, bias flat, merge and align, then extract photometry from 1000s of images you can write a script.

    Iraf was developed for the Hubble Space Telescope
  6. Jun 12, 2010 #5
    Actually, it was developed for Kitt Peak National Observatory and then later adopted by STScI (and ROSAT as well as other ground-based observatories) as the platform for their analysis/reduction software. It's not just scriptable, it has a complete compiled language for development as well (SPP). Yeah it's an old system, but still one of the most productive around.

    Say what you will about GUIs, but can they be used to http://iraf.net/article.php/20080124231526240"
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 25, 2017
  7. Jun 13, 2010 #6


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    Adopting 'universal' standards is a necessary evil in science. It changes more slowly than technology. It trades speed for widespread acceptance, usability and cost effectiveness. Modern computers are still backwards compatible - or can be so adapted at little expense. Besides, it provides an endless supply of IT jobs.
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