Developer Spotlight: Paolo Amoroso
Hey everyone! I hope everyone is having a great week. For those in the U.S. happy thanksgiving! In this series, we're going to interview talents developers and share their stories and experiences! It's a great chance for people to learn from someone else. This week we're interviewing Paolo Amoroso @PaoloAmoroso, from Milan, Italy. Paolo works in astronomy, space outreach, and education, which also act as his hobbies.
@21natzil Hello Paolo! It's so great to meet you. I have so many questions, so let's get started. You work in astronomy and space outreach, why'd you start using repl.it, a website that let's you program online seems unrelated to that?
@PaoloAmoroso Good question. I have other interests that are related to computing, including programming and Google technologies, and this is how I found Repl.it. A few years ago I switched to using only Chrome OS on the desktop and, given I have been a hobby programmer since the home computer revolution of the early 1980s, I started researching software development environments fully in the cloud. Repl.it was a perfect fit and, after bookmarking it and forgetting about if for some time, almost exactly one year ago I started using it.
@21natzil I'm glad to hear that repl.it's helped! Now, you've actually written books that seem to combine your interest in technology and space, such as "Space Apps for Android: Discover the Best Astronomy and Space Apps". How often do you combine astronomy and programming into your work?
@PaoloAmoroso Actually not often so far, that's why I'm committed to using Repl.it more. Around the same time I started using Repl.it, I also started learning Python in some depth. Python is the most popular programming language in the professional astronomy community. Given the "batteries included" approach of the Python community, there are some great astronomy and space Python libraries too. For example, the availability of the amazing Astropy is among my main motivations for learning Python as I hope to use it and similar ones for astronomy-related personal projects. And Astropy works great on Repl.it.
@21natzil I think I've heard of AstroPy before, but could you explain what it does?
@PaoloAmoroso Astropy provides libraries and tools for processing astronomical data, computing quantities and properties of celestial objects, accessing astronomical images and data, visualizing data, and more.
@21natzil That sounds super cool! Now from what I've seen, you also co-founded first Italian space podcast. What's running a podcast of that magnitude like?
@PaoloAmoroso In a way it's like being a YouTuber. You have to constantly and regularly produce content the audience loves and wants more of. And it's an opportunity for keeping up with what's going on in space.
@21natzil Sounds like a lot of work goes into that. And speaking of work, let's say someone is a programmer, who's starting to have an interest in space. What work would they have to do, to have a basic understanding of astronomy? For example, what would they have to learn to be able to utilize a tool like AstroPy?
@PaoloAmoroso They should start with something old-fashioned like spherical astronomy, i.e. learning to use celestial coordinates, date and time systems, the motions of objects in the sky, and so on. This is because such stuff is the foundation of all the rest. Think for example of the cool, modern-sounding astrophysics things Astropy does like accessing the images of galaxies and nebulas where coordinates and time references are necessary metadata.
@21natzil That makes a lot of sense, it's easy to get ahead of yourself. Before I let you go, I need to ask, what's being a product reviewer for google like, and what does that entail?
@PaoloAmoroso You mean a Google Product Expert (PE)? A PE is a volunteer, a member of the Product Experts Program who answers questions and assists the users in the official help forums of Google products. We have some additional resources, such as communication paths for reporting product issues or providing feedback to Google, and a few perks.
@21natzil You're right, Product Expert. What are some of the cool products you've reviewed?
@PaoloAmoroso I help the users of Google Photos, Google Play, and Google News.
@21natzil Sounds like you review a lot of things then, and with all the other things you do, are incredibly busy. I won't keep you any longer, except for this one last question. What quote of phrase do you live by or attempt to live by in your day to day life?
@PaoloAmoroso I've set my GitHub profile status to "Committed to committing".
Thanks so much for the interview Paolo! And good luck on your future endeavors. The sky, for you, is not the limit!!