Astropy - Herding Snakes or Astronomers: which is more difficult?

Description

Developers and users of astronomical software have long bemoaned the absence of shared efforts in the field. While there are well known, free software tools available for astronomy, most have been developed by large institutions, and the past few decades have seen comparatively little progress in fostering a community-based set of software tools. There is hope that is changing now. The continuing growth of Python in astronomy has led to an increasing awareness of needless duplication of efforts within the community and the need to make existing packages work better with each other; such discussions came to a head on the astropy email list in the spring of 2011 leading to formation of the astropy project. The first coordination meeting was held in the fall of 2011, and significant progress has been made in setting up a community repository of core astronomical packages. We will describe the general goals of astropy and the progress that has been made to date.