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Paper: Introducing Nightlight: A New, Modern FITS Viewer
Volume: 512, Astronomical Data Analysis Software and Systems XXV
Page: 621
Authors: Muna, D.
Abstract: The field of astronomy distinguishes itself in having standardized on a single file format for the majority of data it produces. Visualization of FITS data, however, has not kept up with modern software design, user interfaces, or user interaction; the simple task of inspecting a file's structure or retrieving a particular value requires writing code. While the file format has its shortcomings, a significant reason many astronomers dislike FITS is not due to the organization of the bytes on disk, but rather the ease of use in accessing or visualizing them. Nightlight is a new desktop application whose aim is to bring a modern interface to FITS files with the polish and design people expect from applications like iTunes. By making it a native Macintosh application, one is able to leverage cutting edge frameworks (not available in cross-platform environments) that enable GPU acceleration, multithreading, interactive touch interfaces, real-time image processing, metadata indexing, and more. Nightlight is designed to provide a common platform on top of which data or survey specific visualization needs can be built. The initial public release of Nightlight is expected in early 2016.
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