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At the cutting edge... literally

High-tech sewing by UKATC’s resident tailor

Meet Viv. She has been a valued member of the UK Astronomy Technology Centre team, at Royal Observatory, Edinburgh for almost 30 years. Most of the time she’s busy organising and helping with administrative needs. But in her spare time she loves quilting. And it is her skills as an experienced seamstress that has seen her signed up by the MOONS team – to hand stitch a bespoke jacket for a 7 tonne piece of kit that will be cooled to 130K (about -140C) – for the Very Large Telescope, at the Paranal Observatory in Northern Chile.

Viv say, “My job is so wonderfully varied and different. Not only do I work with all the different teams here at UKATC who design and build world class state of the art instruments for major land- and space-based telescope, I get to put my sewing skills to high-tech use too.”

MOONS, which is currently being built, is a unique cutting edge instrument that will allow astronomers to see deeper into our galaxy, than we’ve ever seen before – observing over 3 million astronomical objects in its first 5 years – telling us why our milky way is a spiral, how galaxies have formed and evolved over the entire history of the Universe… and so much more.

Viv is playing an important role; as the jacket she is stitching is a crucial part in maintaining the spectrograph within the MOONS cryostat at its optimal operating temperature. A great example of the different types of contribution people can make to STEM. STEM really is for everyone! 

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Last updated: 01 April 2019


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