In Humans of ASTRON we share stories about the people at ASTRON. Who are the people behind the discoveries and innovations and also, who are the people that make sure that everything runs smoothly? Henk Vonk has been working at ASTRON since 2017. He is a facilities employee.

Published by the editorial team, 2 February 2021

What was the happiest moment in your working life at ASTRON?

I started working at ASTRON on July 3rd, 2017. I am very happy with my permanent contract. The happiest moment in my career at ASTRON was in January 2018, when I was named the kindest man working at ASTRON.

I am quite versatile and am frequently asked to jump in here, hang something up on the wall there, you name it. And I am like: “Sure, I’ll do that right away.” And that is how I got named as one of the nicest people working at ASTRON. I even have a certificate of it, which I have placed in my office in the warehouse.

Which person was the most important in your career?

There are several. Diana Verweij, who was responsible for me being hired here, Anne Veendijk, our supervisor, Martijn Tilma, my colleague, and Alex Benjamins, our technical man. At the very start I looked at him a little bit strangely, but he turned out to be a very pleasant colleague and I know consider him somewhat of a brother.

Henk Vonk bij de planten
Henk watering some plants. (Credit: Henk Vonk)

What inspired you to choose this field of work?

Before I joined ASTRON, I worked at the Dutch postal service TNT Post for half a year. I drove a van and every day I delivered about 160 up to 180 parcels.

One day, my boss there said: “Would you like to join my for a cup of coffee in my office? That’ll give us a chance to catch up.” I told him that I needed to finish scanning my parcels, but then I would join him. When we were there, sitting in his office, he said: “A work leader at social workplace Reestmond told me that there is a vacancy at ASTRON. How does that sound to you?” I needed to think about that; I had never heard of ASTRON! In the end, I went over to ASTRON three times for job interviews. And then I had to choose whether I wanted to go to ASTRON or back to my old work in the social workplace. I did not feel like doing that, so I chose ASTRON. And I have not regretted that one bit; I love it here! I even followed some English language courses.

What does your day look like?

When I arrive at work, I visit my workplace in the warehouse, where I start up the computer and check the mails and parcels that have arrived. When I have finished doing that, I make my rounds through the company and visit the places where they need my help. I offer support to colleagues and perform all kinds of odd-jobs related to the buildings, facilities, and the terrain of ASTRON. But I also work on our cars. Every day differs from the previous one and I perform all sorts of jobs; they only need to ask, and I will do it.


Latest tweets

Morgen 10/6 is een gedeeltelijke zonsverduistering. De @radiotelescoop gaat dit in samenwerking met @OudeSterrewacht live volgen, livestream: Onze collega’s in Leiden zorgen voor beeld en @radiotelescoop meet de intensiteit van de zonsverduistering.

Congratulations to @AstroJoeC for winning the Louise Webster Prize @AstroSocAus for his @nresearchnews paper on ‘Wolf-Rayet' stars (a kind believed to explode as supernovae) ! 🎉

🏆 More on the prize:

📡 More on the paper:

Another impressive result for LOFAR! An international team of astronomers from @UniLeiden & @mediainaf discovered a galaxy that seems to be wagging it's tail, a tail of 2,5 million light years long! 💫

Another impressive result for @LOFAR! An international team of astronomers from @UniLeiden & @mediainaf discovered a galaxy that seems to be wagging it's tail, a tail of 2,5 million light years long! 💫