Category Archives: Artie Aardvark’s Adventures

Artie Aardvark’s Belgian Beer Adventure- Part 1

Whenever I go on any astronomical adventures, or adventures with astronomers, our group’s mascot Artie Aardvark seems to tag along.  And it’s time for Artie to tell you all about a recent weekend we had in Belgium- take it away, Artie!

I really enjoyed my short trip to Belgium for the NAC, so a week later when I heard a bunch of astronomers were planning a weekend trip to Belgium to visit trappist breweries I begged them to go along.  After all, what if they needed an extra driver?  What if they needed the services of an attack aardvark?  And most important, I was very curious to see what the fuss was about when it came to trappist beers!

Luckily they let me come so we set off on Friday after work for an adventure!  Though our first stop was before the Belgian border, in the Netherlands, at the La Trappe near Tilburg in the southern Netherlands-
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Artie Aardvark Looks into Lommel

For those who don’t remember him, Artie Aardvark is my research group’s mascot.  He’s a curious fellow who likes to tag along to astronomical conferences and the like, so it was only natural that he tagged along with me last week.  I’ll let him tell you all about it!
IMG_0709Last week was super-duper exciting, as Yvette finally took me on a new adventure!  We were off to Lommel, Belgium for the annual Dutch astronomers’ conference which is known as the NAC.  I was a little confused on the train ride over why were going to Belgium for a Dutch astronomers’ conference, but the astronomers told me that northern Belgium is an area called Flanders where they speak Dutch with a funny accent. (I guess some of them claim Flemish is a separate language but don’t ask me for details- I’m an aardvark, not a language expert!) This year they were organizing the conference, so we took a train and bus to Lommel just across the border. Continue reading

Artie Aardvark Studies Southampton

Continuing our series of our lovable scamp exploring various interesting astronomical locations, Artie Aardvark has graciously agreed to cover a recent visit of mine to University of Southampton.  Take it away, Artie!

I was very excited to go to Southampton!  People told me it would be rainy in England, but the weather was actually very nice.  Here I am making friends with the ducks in Southampton Common on my way to the university.

Once I arrived, it was time to help with work.  Most astronomers these days do not work at their observatories most of the time but instead get their observations and spend months or even years analyzing them.  I suppose this is nice because then you don’t have to spend all of your time in the middle of nowhere anymore!  Here I am working on the code for a particularly troublesome data set.

Later in the afternoon, however, it was time for a break to explore the University of Southampton campus!  We of course first stopped at the LOFAR antenna next to the physics building- it’s not a real antenna, but a pretend one to show you what they look like.  It is kind of funny to think that a metal pole in the ground is a radio astronomy antenna because I thought they looked more like the Westerbork ones I visited once, but it turns out what really matters is what wavelength you are looking at.  Radio frequencies all have a matching wavelength that can be anywhere from sub-millimeter to longer than a football field from their peak to trough, similar to how waves in the ocean can sometimes be very tiny and sometimes very giant.  The wavelengths LOFAR is interested in are about as long as this pole, so that’s how big the antennas are- the fact that they are cheap to build helps too!

After that, I also enjoyed exploring the Southampton campus because it was very green like a giant park.  In fact, it was quite the jungle in some places!

It was really fun to explore all the plant life and clamber around for tasty bugs, and… oh no!  I’m stuck!  Yvette, help!!!!

Whew, I got saved!  To regale those who missed my adventure, after work the astronomers were nice enough to take me to The Crown Inn, a very cozy pub just down the road from the uni.  Where I got a nice big pint all to myself, and Yvette told me to take it slow but it was so tasty I didn’t and why did she say that anyway…


When I woke up later I’d missed out on a lot, and boy did I learn my lesson!  So even though there was real Duff beer to be had during the Simpsons Treehouse of Horror marathon on Halloween I didn’t have very much of it.

Thanks to everyone in Southampton who helped me with the pictures!

Artie Aardvark Observes Oxford

Once again we turn to the lovely Artie Aardvark for his observations, this time for the LOFAR TKP meeting that took place in Oxford earlier this month. Take it away, Artie!

I was very excited to visit Oxford ever since I first heard that there was going to be a meeting here about transient observations using LOFAR! Oxford is a very special, very old place, and the university has been here since the 12th century. While in Oxford I even got to stay at one of the old colleges where students still study and live today, called Keble College. It was very pretty! Continue reading

Artie Aardvark Absconds Around Ameland

Once again it is time from our faithful correspondent, Artie Aardvark, to give his account about an astronomical adventure! This time it’s the 2012 NAC, or Dutch astronomers conference.

Hello everyone, and welcome to Ameland!  It’s an island in the North Sea close to Germany so very, very far away from Amsterdam by Dutch standards.  It was a very pretty place, but most importantly I was excited to come and learn about Dutch astronomy while here! Continue reading

Artie Aardvark’s Austin Adventures at AAS

Gather ’round partners, it’s time for Artie Aardvark’s recap of the 219th meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Austin, Texas!

Yee-haw, I am off to the biggest astronomy conference in the whole wide world!  This year it is in Austin, Texas, which is so far from the Netherlands I have to fly hours and hours to get there.  I’m glad that gives me lots of time to look out the window! Continue reading

A Very Dutch Christmas Time

It’s that time of year in Holland: there is only sunlight for about seven hours, the fall bok beers have been changed for hearty winter fare, and the entire country is engaged in a national debate about the racist overtones of a beloved childhood mascot.  Yes, it’s Christmas time in Amsterdam! (Which looks even prettier with all the Christmas lights by the way, the above is my favorite set not too far from my apartment.) Continue reading