20th July 2018

Astrophysics Work Experience at Liverpool John Moores University

Astrophysics Work Experience group photo

Louis Wilks-Reeves shared his thoughts on his work experience: “For the first day we were at the Science Park building, it was mainly focused on meeting people within the group as no one knew each other previously. We did group activities like the marsh mellow building exercise, we were given a set amount of marsh mellows and spaghetti, we were then told in our groups to try and make the tallest structure. There were some talks from Astrophysics students at the university which helped to know more about university life.

The second day was still orientated on meeting the people there but also on presentations about the Liverpool telescope which is interesting and shows how the data is processed and classified. Then we were put into research groups and told what our project was for the week ahead.

The third day was all research about the topics we had been given, we were in a group of three, there were three main tasks for the project so we divided the workload. Our task was to research sunspot cycles and finding the rotational speed of the sun. My job was data analytics, I took the sunspot data from the last 108 years, of sunspot frequency, organised it, put it into a scatter graph, tried to analyse a pattern. After the first day i had found a cycle of 11 years in sunspot frequency, then I had to find why.

The fourth day, this was also comprised of all research. I found that every 11 years the frequency in sunspots is due to an inversion of the suns poles, from images and the internet. Then I helped out with the rotational speed of the sun, which was INCREDIBLY mathematical. Then we worked on the 10 minute presentation that we had to do at the end of the week.

The fifth day, this was mainly talks from PhD students about the subjects they did, then a talk about student finance which was very useful. Then we presented our work and our findings, we got our certificates for our work, and there were many pictures.

All in all it was a really fun and interesting week, it provides a realistic insight into research jobs and student life at any university. There are vast applications for this even if you do not necessarily want to study astrophysics. I would highly recommend that all students apply to this, as it really was intriguing and provides amazing opportunities and a lot of information”.

Photo shows Louis receiving his certificate from Professor Chris Collins, Head of the Astrophysics Research Institute