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IRAF, which stands for Image Reduction and Analysis Facility, is a collection of very powerful astrophysical software. It is widely used for image reduction and data analysis for astrophysical research. It is free-ware available for download from all over the internet and must be run on a UNIX operating system or in a unix emulator. Linux(which is also free) is a common choice to run IRAF. It consits of a large number of “programs” tasks that perform scientific opertaions on images and tables. It can align, drizzle, cosmic ray reject, geometricaly correct, flat field, bias correct, centroid, scale, make surface plots, perform aperature photometry and a million other things.

My reccomdation, if you have the opportunity to use IRAF for your data processing, is DON'T. It has an incredibly steep and frustrating learning curve and is much less automated(by design) than the more recognizable software like Deep Sky Stacker and Registax. Yes, it is a really powerful group of programs designed to do almost anything to an astronomical image, but most you are never going to need. It is also designed for a different purpse than the other readily available software. IRAF is designed to do scientific research on datasets, not create pretty images. So where IRAF is very concerned with thigns like remaining photometrically and astrometrically accurate, you don't really need to be. Free software like Deep Sky Stacker, and Registax can do pretty much all you need.

If you have a desire to analyze images from professional telescopes like Hubble or Spitzer (which you can by the way, just visit MAST at STSCI) then learn to use IRAF. If you want to make pretty pictures from your own imaging runs, stay away!!


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