Visits to a Professional Astronomical Observatory:

Lancaster University

#LancAstrObserving #LancAstrObserving2019

This year’s trip to professional observatories took place during 18-23 June 2019. In total, 3 Lancaster University students took part in this experience, all finishing their 2nd year, George, Matt and Ryan. In addition to observing at the Isaac Newton Telescope and seeing all practical aspects of the full observing experience, the students also had specific tours to the largest telescope in the world (10.4m), the GTC, and they visited the vast majority of other telescopes. As part of sharing the experience, students recorded short videos next to each telescope and other students were involved in the planning. See their observing blog posts here.

Our full Lancaster observing team for La Palma 2019. From left to right: The Milky Way, a pile of stones, a geographical marker, George Greenyer, Matt Fahey, David Sobral & Ryan Cooper.
The view from the mountain at night and the clouds, down. We could easily see the Milky Way, along with Jupiter (brightest single source), and some faint, fuzzy artificial light in the horizon (mostly coming from the other island, Tenerife).

IMG_2339The 3 students  standing in front of the largest telescope in the World, GTC. From left to right: George Greenyer, Ryan Cooper, Matt Fahey.

Visits to a Professional Astronomical Observatory – 2017/2018

IMG_1417.jpgFrom left to right (May 2018, outside the INT): Charlie Alexander, Andrew Jenkins, Emma Dodd, Karolina Wresilo.

In total, five Lancaster University students benefited from the experience this year, four finishing their 2nd year and one finishing their 3rd year. Apart from practical learning and understanding how telescopes work, we also ran and broadcasted a live Lecture from the telescope in La Palma to Lancaster, led by the students. The students at Lancaster were therefore able to see different aspects of how it is to observe with a professional telescope and how that connects with their modules, explained by and through the eyes of their colleagues, along with a Q&A session at the end. Check out NLUAstro and GOC to see some of the data collected on this observing run and the work done with this by third year group project students in 2019. We hope to repeat the experience in 2018/2019!

IMG_1332.jpgLa Palma was incredible! By far the highlight of my university experience so far and I am so grateful to my department for it! It makes all the physics worth it and reminds me of why I’m doing this degree and what I’m working towards. The whole experience really helped me become more confident in myself, both with my ability in physics, and also my presenting and communicating skills.”, Emma Dodd, who was an XGAL intern last year.

IMG_1341.jpgGoing to La Palma was the most interesting and beautiful experience of my life (…) something I’ll never forget. We had the opportunity to operate the 2.5m telescope directly and select our own targets. We quickly picked up new skills in telescope operations, data taking and false colour image creation. This is why I do physics; experiencing and leaning the science I’ve admired since I was a child. My endless thanks to Dr. David Sobral for making this possible and giving me a taste of what it’s like to work in physics.”, Andrew Jenkins, second year MPhys in Physics, Astrophysics and Cosmology.