Visualizing the locations of Astronomical research institutes/departments

Till November 2015, I was searching for PhD and research assistant positions in astronomy departments and labs around the world. There's no one place which lists out ALL of the places and the few lists I did found were outdated and were a list. A map is the best way to represent such a data set, in my opinion, so that is what I set out to do.

I've been searching for and bookmarking universities/departments/labs/centers where people do astronomy for over 3 years now so I have a pretty long list to go through. I first had plans to automate the process of retrieving (Lat, Long) information given a URL but I couldn't figure out how to. I remember finding a website which, given a URL, would tell me the location as to where it is hosted, but I have since lost track of it.

And instead of putting it off in want of a programmatic way of making this map, I thought I'll put in the time and do the whole thing manually i.e make a list of websites, check every website for a contact/address listed, convert the address to (Lat, Long) information. After a couple of days, I've been able to create this small list of 100 universities across the world with an astronomy program or an astronomy department.

Having made the list, I was trying to look for an easy way to convert my (Lat, Long) data into points on a map. After trying out matplotlib unsuccessfully, I found a solution involving plotly. I tried installing plotly on my system and producing the plot but I gave that up to make the plots on the website. It was trivial to upload the data to plotly, choose columns as (Lat, Long) and create the bubble plot. After making the bubble plot, one more small step was needed to convert the world map into a map of locations in the USA and Europe.

So, enough talk. Here you are. An interactive plot of a few locations in the USA and Europe where astronomy education and astronomical research is pursued. I myself have a lot of edits to make to these plots. The points need to be bigger in size to be easily visible. Right now, hovering over the points only lets you see the name of the University/Lab. I would also like to add the URL to the respective lab/department so that access is easy. Further, I would also like to add information needed by someone looking for grad schools - GRE, pGRE, GPA and TOEFL cutoffs if any, application fees and the like. If you think I'm missing anything or if you think there's something I should add, do comment and tell me. Any and all comments are welcome.

Right now, the data sits on google drive and the plots sit on plotly. Once I clean things up, I will move them to a github repository so that access becomes easier. I know what I'm going to be doing this weekend. Do you? :D

PS : I just noticed one faulty data point - I seem to have put U. Michigan in the middle east. I'll have to go through the (Lat, Long) locations one more time, just to make sure that there aren't any mistakes.

Popular posts from this blog

Animation using GNUPlot

Pandas download statistics, PyPI and Google BigQuery - Daily downloads and downloads by latest version

Adaptive step size Runge-Kutta method