Universiteit Leiden

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Beijing Normal University visits Leiden for Astronomy Summer School

The Leiden Observatory was very pleased to welcome eight bachelor’s students from Beijing Normal University at 8 July for the BNU Astronomy Summer School. In two weeks’ time, the Summer School students followed an interactive programme in computational astrophysics. ‘It’s surprising how much you can learn in two weeks!’

The programme

Computational Astrophysics is a rapidly developing paradigm in modern astrophysics. During the course, the students learned about some commonly used computational methods to study  gravitational dynamics processes. In small groups, they worked on a chosen research project. 

Besides this, the students also participated in colloquia on several topics, lectures in computation astrophysics and an excursion to the LOFAR radio telescope and ASTRON: the Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy. Furthermore, there also was some time for social events and exploring the old city of Leiden. Which was especially very quiet, according to the students.

Xiaofei gets her certificate


‘I learned a lot’, tells student Xiaofei. ‘Especially about giving presentations. In China, we do not get many opportunities to practice that skill. We were cheered to do things we found difficult. I was kind of nervous for my presentation, but the teachers encouraged me to practice and corrected things. It was really helpful!’ Xiaofei appreciated the Dutch learning atmosphere and the fact that the course was very interactive. ‘It was not only listening and writing, we communicated and shared thoughts, there were no limitations.’ a master’s degree in Leiden is one of her options for the future. ‘Astronomy is major here in Leiden. I want to experience that and to see more of the world.’

Tian receives his diploma

New skills

Tian, another student looks back on this Summer school with satisfaction. ‘Our project went really well. We had some problems, like with the different language. But I did not expect I would be able to simulate the evolution of a molecular cloud at the end of the course. It’s wonderful what you can learn within two weeks!’ Before, Tian was more into observational astronomy, not into the theoretical and computational part. But, after this course, he understands it a lot better. Whether he would come back to the Leiden in the future? Well, first he has two more years of his bachelor to complete. ‘But, after that I maybe want to do my master’s in Leiden.’

This is also the case for Hengrui, who thinks Leiden is a beautiful and surprising city. ‘I love the beautiful scenery of Leiden.’ He improved his skills a lot. ‘This was the first time we used Linux, a powerful tool for astrophysics. The best thing about the Summer School? His teacher. ‘He was young and skilled and also very nice and energetic.’

Also Hengrui got his certificate at the end of the Summer School
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