UCL Astrophysics Group


Internship: A Python introduction to the Observatory: Distance to the Virgo Cluster

27 April 2021

Open to all UCL Physics and Astronomy students who are familiar with the PHAS0007 Astronomical script.

Group Policies and Procedures

First year students in Physics and Astronomy (UCL) have been introduced to the Observatory in the First-Year lab module with an on-site visit and working through a scripted task which is performed on a custom-made software which provides a basic experience of observatory data and astronomical techniques.

During the pandemic this has required us to arrange for ~300 remote connections to a complex network cluster on a software that was not designed to be used remotely.

We propose that the intern re-elaborate and modernize this experience (which is always enjoyed by students with positive feedback year on year) by re-designing this in Python so that the software can be obtained from Moodle and performed in a simpler way while making use of the python basics being learned at the same time on another module.

As a result of this project, the first to benefit from this will be the First Year Physics and Astronomy students every year. This will reduce the necessity for complex arrangement of remote connections for different operating systems as well as remove the frustrating glitches due to visualization outputs taking place through firewalls. Students will also benefit from this as this will double their exposure to Python in their first year (rather than using a black-box software).

Technical and IT staff at the observatory will also benefit from not needing to provide all connection details for 300 students as the exercise will now be readily available from Moodle. Module lead and demonstrators will likewise benefit from outputs of the software being more easily integrated with Moodle assessment.

The student has to have been through the module (PHAS0007: Practical Skills 1C - Laboratory) and have excellent python coding skills.

The following skills are desirables:

-) Have a strong astronomy background

-) Have taken the PHAS0020 Computing in Practical Astrophysics module

Be familiar with Python/Jupyter and Spyder.

The intern will not only gain valuable insight on the process of design of a teaching activity but will finetune the python skills learned in a physics/astronomy environment with attention to user-interface detail which is not something that is taught directly in this domain.

The latter is in huge demand when planning or designing software in any field.

Essential criteria:

-) Must be familiar with the PHAS0007 Astronomical script (all students who have taken this 1st year core module in the past 10 years in Physics & Astronomy)

-) Must have excellent python coding ability

-) Strong Astronomical background (either as an ongoing or past degree or must show equivalent knowledge base)

Desirable criteria:

-) Experience in coding for User-Interface (graphical or non)

-) Experience in Astronomical data analysis of images (photometry)

Essential Technical:

Familiarity with Windows AND Linux operating systems.

If you have any questions, please contact Prof. Giorgio Savini (g.savini@ucl.ac.uk).  

To apply: https://uclcareers.targetconnect.net/leap/jobSearch.html?id=165927&service=Careers+Service

The deadline is the 21st May, 2021.