We are two undergraduate students taking part in I-LOFAR’s summer internship opportunity. Over the coming weeks we will be working with Áine (Education and Public Engagement Manager) on the AstroLands Programme promoting Astronomy to the public and young people in the midlands.

Nathan: My name is Nathan, I’m a fourth-year Physics and Astrophysics student at Trinity College Dublin. I am a summer intern at the I-LOFAR Education Centre. I’m absolutely fascinated with anything concerning astrophysics and that makes this internship very exciting! Over the coming months I will be trying to soak up as much information as I can from the team at I-LOFAR, which we will then share with as many people as possible through our Education Centre and our website.

Amy: I’m Amy and I just finished my second year of Physics, Maths, and Education in UCD. I am very enthusiastic to start this internship. Astrophysics is amazing and very relevant to Ireland’s history of science and technology, and I can’t wait to explore this with all the visitors we will hopefully have once we’re back open to the public. Stay tuned for more information.

**Amy and Nathan at Leviathan in Birr Castle Demesne (virtually… like much of what our internship is like in these strange times. ) Background photo credit : Alberto Cañizares

How has corona virus impacted the internship? 

Nathan: These are strange and uncharted times, and inevitably the pandemic has impacted the way the internship is being run at the moment. The I-LOFAR Education Centre is located in Birr, which is where we were supposed to be working, but until the Education Centre re-opens myself and Amy are working from home. For me this means working in my apartment, in Dublin, which I share with my college friends, a pretty cool office if you ask me. It’s a bit surreal to be getting out of bed and walking three steps to my desk to start work every morning – at least the daily commute isn’t too taxing on my body – the real challenge is resisting the temptation not to jump right back in bed in the morning as I’m sitting at my desk! But like much of the rest of the working population, we are adapting, and when work involves telling stories about the stars, galaxies and planets in our universe it doesn’t feel like work, more just like a hobby.  

Amy: Starting a new job in the middle of a lockdown is quite strange, from being across the country in Wexford, to meeting my new co-workers through the internet and having business meetings in my own room. However, this has given us a great opportunity to delve into I-LOFAR’s online presence and improve our own focus and time management skills. 

Ok, what are you guys doing?

We have plenty of exciting projects we are working on, which we are looking forward to sharing with you!

Nathan: This week I have been updating the website, in which we are looking to add much more content, so that anyone with a keen interest in what we do can get all the information they need with a few clicks. I am also starting a project with a I-LOFAR PhD student, where we will be developing a program that will feed continuous data plots to the website. This will allow the I-LOFAR researchers to keep an eye on the observations the telescope is making in real time, and possibly spot something early on, to analyse it.

Amy: I am currently working on some CPD resources for teachers that will soon be uploaded to the website, so keep an eye out! As well as this we are also working on updating and refining tours for the public that we look forward to hosting as soon as we are back in business. Where possible we are also trying to come up with some innovative ideas for possible outdoor/distanced activities.

When can I visit LOFAR?

We hope to be able to welcome people at I-LOFAR as soon as possible, keep an eye on the website and our social media accounts to be updated when the Education Centre opens up. Both of us and Áine are very much looking forward to welcome people again and introduce you to the fascinating work being carried out here!

Follow along our work as we will be making weekly blog posts!

You can find Amy and Nathan on Twitter @amyclancyl and @NathanSimoncini respectively.