Visualizing Astronomical Data In Houdini
Astronomical data from satellites and ground telescopes are publicly available on a number of online portals and are free to use. Many interesting data, ranging from relatively small star clusters, to dark matter maps, to maps of entire sections of galaxies containing billions of stars are available. Their usage is somewhat limited, and the software to parse the data are developed specifically to serve the astronomy community. The data formats are not made for portability or speed, but for longevity and ease-of-use. Hence, the files can be a few megabytes to several gigabytes in size. Many astronomy software provides parsing and viewing of such files, but most do not cater to more than one format. The approach is more scientific, with the focus being on extraction of data points, potting graphs and in some cases, a bare-minimum 2D or 3D visualization. For this project, similar concepts have been applied, as well as general astronomical data analysis theory, to bring similar capabilities into Houdini, and build assets for use in visual effects. Three of the most widely used formats in astronomy have been chosen - FITS, CSV and AMR. The motivation for doing this project is an interest in astronomy and desire to learn Python.