IDL Tutorials

IDL is the programming language used to perform data reduction and analysis and all of the labs. Professor Heiles has written a two part tutorial on performing basic tasks in IDL. The first part (ps or pdf) focuses on the basic operations and tools of IDL, while the second part (ps or pdf) has more information on different data types and structures.

Professor Heiles and Tim Robishaw have also written a number of guides to producing quality images in IDL.

  • Basic Image Display (ps or pdf)
  • One, Two, and Three Dimensional Color Images (ps or pdf)
  • Making Annotated Images and Colorbars (ps or pdf)
  • Making Postcript Files (ps or pdf)
  • Large Area Sky Surveys (ps or pdf)

Professor Heiles has also written other astronomically relevant guides that use IDL, but also contain more general information.
  • Coordinate Transformations (ps or pdf)
  • Discrete Fourier Transforms (ps or pdf)

If that is not enough, check Professor Heiles' website, where even more information on IDL can be found (though it is generally not directly relevant to tasks being performed in undergraduate labs).

Other References

There are a number of other great guides online. David Fanning's Guide to IDL Programming has a of good tips on general coding philosophy within IDL, as well as in-depth guides to use of certain functions. In particular, the sections called "The IDL Way" and "Tutorials" are good to look through.

At the opposite end of the spectrum is the Alphabetical List of IDL Routines, which has no real discussion, but has documention for the IDL's built-in functions and procedures. The content is identical the built-in help that can be accessed using the command:

IDL> ? [function name]
That said, the Alphabetical List is quite helpful when the name of a function is proving elusive.