Work experience and internships


The Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences runs an astronomy focus work experience program. Day one is at the Powerhouse Museum, days two to five are held at Sydney Observatory. School or TAFE students intending to do physics in years 11 and 12 with a strong interest in astronomy and science are encouraged to book into a 5-day work experience program. Day 1 is at the Powerhouse Museum, days 2 to 5 are at Sydney Observatory. Daytime work experience attendance times are 10am to 4pm. The program outline below is a guide only and, dependent on the programs or time of year, may change substantially.

Day 1 – Powerhouse Museum
- Introduction to the Powerhouse Museum Volunteer team working on that day and Highlight Tour of the museum including the Mars lab.
- Induction, learn about the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, the volunteer program and Work Health and Safety protocols
- ‘Behind the scenes’ talk or tour

Day 2
 – Sydney Observatory
- Introduction to Sydney Observatory, facilities, operations
- Spectroscopy with simple logarithmic exercises

Day 3

- Satellite reports for night tours
- Galaxy Zoo citizen science
- Learn to ‘drive’ our computer controlled telescope

Day 4

- The speed of light
- The transit of Venus with moderate trigonometric exercise

Day 5

- The size of the Universe and the Hubble parameter with moderate mathematics.
- Finalise previous work and complete school / TAFE paperwork. (Note we do not do any follow-up paperwork after you have left Sydney Observatory so you must bring any evaluation forms with you during the week)

How to apply
This program is in high demand and it is selective based on your enthusiasm to be involved in astronomy and physics at a deeper level as demonstrated by your response to the questions below. Students from country schools may need special consideration for dates and we are flexible if this is the case, please state you are in a regional or remote school on your application. Please note that applications will be processed as quickly as possible. If you are accepted your ‘Student Placement Record’ paperwork is sent to MAAS Volunteer Programs (

To participate in work experience, please email MAAS Volunteer Programs ( with:
- Your name, school, year, careers advisor’s name and school’s fax number or email address
- The subjects you intend to study in Year 11 (Physics is preferable)
- Your preferred dates and any optional dates
- A brief statement (100 words max) of why you should be granted a position at Sydney Observatory. This may include, but not be limited to, what astronomical experiences you have had or are planning
- Shown below are two poster images from a successful marketing campaign based on some complex astronomical ideas. While some people did not know what the science was about, they liked the campaign. In a few sentences, explain what you think is the science underlying the slogans in the pictures.
red giant campaign

All applications must be sent to this email MAAS Volunteer Programs. If you have an enquiry please send this by email or phone (02)9217 0676 during business hours.


Below is an overview of Sydney Observatory’s internship program. Please be advised, however, that we have all the interns we can take for 2014. We will start to take applications for 2015 on 1st December 2014. Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, Sydney Observatory offers three-month internships to students who are interested in science (esp. astronomy), marketing or tourism. Welcome are Australian and international postgraduate high school students as well as university undergraduate and postgraduate students who would like to include the internship as part of their studies. Working hours are Monday – Friday, 10am – 4pm (days are flexible).

Internships involve no remuneration in form of a salary. Interns must be either part of the Powerhouse Museum Volunteers Program or supported by their University.

The working fields of an intern at Sydney Observatory include observing day and night tours, meet and greet at the cloaking desk and verifying website or related observatory data. Due to the extended period of time an internship is much more intense than work experience – whatever your field of interest is, it allows possibilities to conduct your own special project, be it in science education, museum studies, marketing and tourism or event management.

An internship at Sydney Observatory is instructive and of great benefit to young people wanting to get an insight into the Observatory by working behind the scenes of the Museum.

Minimum requirements for all internships
- Two years of university or other tertiary education
- Aged at least 21 years
- Insurance covered by university, college or other
- Prior English study and ability to communicate clearly in English
- Any costs associated with accommodation and travel must be met by the intern
- Student of Museum Studies, Librarianship, History or Astronomy/Astrophysics

Internship submissions for 2014
This year we are looking for interns to work on the following projects:
1. research into the amateur astronomy group (the British Astronomical Association)
2. digitising logbooks and papers (10 weeks part-time from 1 July)
3. Name a Star catalogue assistance (10 weeks part-time, any time)
For more information, email Toner Stevenson at Sydney Observatory.

Internship reports
The reports below give an idea of what it’s like to do an internship at Sydney Observatory. Our interns contribute to the real work of Sydney Observatory and have the satisfaction of seeing the results of their work educating and giving pleasure to our audiences.

Kelly Coughlin’s internship report
Senior at Augustana College, Rock Island, Illinois
Internship – January to February 2011

Danielle Bujna’s internship report
Final year undergraduate Museum Studies student at Macquarie University
Internship – November to December 2010

Jodi Heasman’s intern report
Master of Museum Studies student at the University of Sydney
Internship – August to October 2010

Julieanne Sew Hee’s internship report
Master of Museum Studies student at the University of Sydney
Internship – March to June 2010

Julieanne Sew Hee during her Sydney Observatory internship

Julieanne Sew Hee during her Sydney Observatory internship