What do you think of when you look up at the stars in the sky?
I think about the beauty of the night sky. Especially from the remote countryside away from city lights, nothing is more
beautiful than the Milky Way and its companions, the two Magellanic Clouds. Behind our galaxy, invisible to the naked eye, are billions of other galaxies and I wonder what they are made of and how they were created. Gazing up at the sky is like looking into the past, and it enables us to study the evolution of the Universe.
I work at the Australia Telescope National Facility (ATNF) run by CSIRO. Most of the time I work in Sydney, but I also visit our radio telescopes, including those at Parkes and Narrabri in country NSW.
My work is mostly driven by scientific curiosity, but it uses and develops the laws of physics and chemistry to understand how the Earth, the solar system, our galaxy, and the universe were created and how they are evolving.
I loved mathematics in school, and the best way to apply maths to the real world is with physics. So I studied physics at the University of Bonn in Germany, as well as a few courses in chemistry, geodesy and radiology. After gaining a diploma in physics and a PhD in astronomy, I came to Australia because I wanted to use the telescopes at the ATNF.
My colleagues and I work hard, sometimes day and night and many weekends, but the times are flexible and there is always the exciting possibility of discovering a new galaxy.
Science is not usually a big money career, but it's fun. You can learn a lot, discover new things, work with people all over the world, and maybe even help make the world a better place.
Copyright 1997 Nancy Mills, PO Box 18166, Collins St East, Melbourne, VIC 8003
Page last updated 31 May 2000