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A daily view of all the goings-on at ASTRON and JIVE.
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    © Ronald Halfwerk

    BALTICS is a H2020 twinning project running between January 2016 and December 2018. The partners are VIRAC (Ventspils International Radio Astronomy Center), ASTRON, and University of Manchester (UMAN). BALTICS aims at strengthening the expertise and experience at VIRAC in the field of radio astronomy research as well as technology and instrumentation. The project enables intensive contacts with two internationally leading research institutions (ASTRON and UMAN), focused on LOFAR, eMERLIN, and VLBI techniques. It comprises development and training in instrumentation and data analysis, accompanied by dissemination and scientific publications.

    The project closed its activities with a scientific conference organised in Jurmala, Latvia on December 5. Attendees from Latvia, Ukraine, Russia, Bulgaria, Germany, France, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands collectively shared the knowledge and experience gained during the project.

    The conference was followed by a Workshop at the Irbene Observatory of VIRAC on December 6, with the goal of promoting the opportunities that the participation of VIRAC in LOFAR and the EVN will bring to the new user community, and to intensify links with partner scientific and technological institutes in the wider European region. The workshop covered topics from the basics of ILT science operations, organization and future upgrade, to science research topics from potential users.

    VIRAC expressed its pleasure and gratitude with the results they derived from the BALTICS project. The impression of the ASTRON participants is that we significantly contributed to increasing their capabilities. Furthermore, we were impressed by the work of all contributors in their research in Low Frequency Radio astronomy and the related technical facilities. We were excited to see the ground preparations for the LOFAR station, and we look forward to welcoming the Latvian consortium as ILT partner in 2019.

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    © ASTRON

    Every Tuesday we organize DESP project progress meetings wherein we discuss the progress of running development projects, focusing on the firmware and hardware design work. In just 30 minutes, all projects we are involved in are discussed. The meetings are held in Andre's room, which is efficiently used by the use of crutches to crank as many persons as possible in one room.

    As you can see, even after a fully loaded year, everybody is still smiling at the end of 2018 in sight. To be frank: the real reason of these smiles was caused by a bottle of water, which I accidentally toppled when finding the best shot.

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    © Open access

    Fionn (11) and Luke (8) Teeling-Gallagher, son's of the I-LOFAR PI, have been busy constructing an international LOFAR station in Minecraft. Listen to a full description in their YouTube movie at

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    © Astron Mechanical Group

    It took some time [sic!], but to those of you who have been bothering the Boss of the Mechanical Group about the solution to the Mechanical Riddle, here it is:

    A. Blunt needle with a combination of UV light, syringe, milk, food colorings, water, high temperature, 2 engineers, one research instrument maker and an intern in a mechanical workshop INDEED resulted in a big mess. We did clean afterwards, no traces of mess to be seen .... However, that is not the proper answer of a line manager

    B. It was a weird experiment, but heck, that is what the Mechanical Department is for - to THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX and perform weird experiments and achieve great results!

    We NEVER ever scare or tease anybody.... Seriously, never ;-) at least not the interns. What about the blunt needle? In this particular experiment, we really had to use the blunt needle to inject the UV marker, food colorings, and at the end a whole syringe of milk to the system... It was an intricate operation, but I will assure you that our patient has survived and we got to know more about its 'ins and outs'. Nobody was hurt but a hose, which was bleeding (red colored) water by the way. However, this was NOT the answer of the manager either.

    C. We did have fun. We do have fun every day because our work is FUN. Everybody who works in the Mech. Department has a screw loose here and there. Well, you need to if you are so happy solving puzzles day in and day out. Apparently loosing one's screws is contagious because even Gijs caught the bug of enthusiasm from the mechanical groupies:))and drunk some of the red food coloring. Nothing special, no taste to it (only the coloring was slightly too old [sic!]). NOPE, C was not the answer of the line manager.

    D. Abstract... YES that is the solution to the mechanical riddle! The heat sink worked so well (first time right, right?!) that it needed some paperwork as a follow up. At that time when the experiment took place: no, no abstract had been written yet.

    If it still sounds too mysterious to comprehend: we created a setup to visualise the FLOW of coolant across the Gemini LRU liquid cooling heat sink. The objectives were to find areas that needed optimisation, to eliminate the dead corners and enhance the performance of the heat sink. Mission status: accomplished, 2nd generation Heat Sink should have the optimised geometry for the abstract.

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    © APERTIF room team

    The core team (Agnes, Boudewijn, Eric, Ger, Marcel, Menno and Mieke) in the APERTIF room has been around for quite a long time and enjoyed working together so closely. At the start of 2019 this team will cease to exist; some will be moved to another room and continue to work on Apertif, some others will start working on LOFAR-2.0 and maybe stay in the (what will then be called) LOFAR room.

    In the past year the team members have enjoyed each other's company and we think we got to know each other rather well. To memorise the split up of the team, we had to have some kind of a goodbye event. At the end of each year it is time for all kinds of lists, so we decided that each of us would make a personal musical top 3 which would be combined in a single list. This AJDI shows the resulting list (in alphabetical order).

    We played this playlist at the last joint working day of 2018. To test how well we

    know each other, we had to guess who submitted which song. The result was not bad at all; almost 40% was guessed correctly. The most amazing result was that Mieke, who joined the team only quite recently, guessed best with almost 50%. Ger was the best known (or probably most predictable) person; almost

    75% of his songs were guessed correctly.

    It was a nice and fun event. We leave it as an exercise to the reader to guess our musical preferences.