A few years ago I was given a birthday gift of a visit to the Green Bank Radio Telescope Observatory. I wanted to share this with our readers from around the world. For those students of science that follow our publication here is a site that you SHOULD visit.
The site offers a guided bus tour, and a center where information from the directors of the center share information with all the visitors. Working displays, gift shop, and cafe is also available. Labs for science projects and the many arrays of telescopes are on site and used by scientists for the many projects that are undertaken by the Observatory.
Karen O’Neil from the Observatory provided the following story for our magazine and it’s readers :
West Virginia’s Space Place: The National Radio Astronomy Observatory
The National Radio Astronomy Observatory’s site in Green Bank, West Virginia, has been actively engaged in science for more than 50 years. The Green Bank facility began as the original location for the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) which has since expanded to include numerous other locations and instruments, including the Karl Jansky Very Large Array based in Socorro, New Mexico, the Very Long Baseline Array which includes telescopes spread across the United States, and the Atacama Large Millimeter Array located in Chilé.
The primary instrument on the NRAO’s Green Bank site is the 100-m diameter Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope, or GBT, the largest steerable telescope in the world. The telescope’s 2.3 acre collecting area, its unblocked aperture, and its excellent surface accuracy provide unprecedented sensitivity across the telescope’s full 0.1 – 116 GHz (3m – 3mm wavelength) operating range. The GBT is fully steerable, giving it access to all but the southernmost 15% of the celestial sphere. The telescope operates under an “open skies” policy which allows any scientist, from anywhere in the world, to apply for time on the telescope, with the top 20-30% of applications being scheduled
Part of the scientific strength of the GBT is its flexibility and ease of use, allowing for rapid response to new scientific ideas. The GBT is readily reconfigured with new and experimental hardware which is often built at or by universities and colleges throughout the United State. This allows the GBT to adopt the best technology for any scientific pursuit and to continuously transform to meet the scientific needs of the astronomy community.
The Green Bank site also hosts an excellent science center which is open to the general public. The Green Bank Science Center has something for everyone: interactive exhibits about science and technology, fun programs and activities, and outstanding tours of the GBT. In addition to providing educational experiences for our visitors, the science center can create field trip experiences that meet national science education standards and state-based science learning goals. Facilities of the Green Bank Observatory are also used for other scientific research, for many programs in education and public outreach, and for training students and teachers
More information on NRAO’s Green Bank site can be found online at http://science.nrao.edu/facilities/gbt.
We hope that ALL our readers can visit this site. Directions, and Observatory information, can be found on their site. This trip is definately worth visiting and it is a great learning tool for Astronomy and Science students alike. Those schools with science courses should contact the Green Bank Observatory to arrange for their students to visit it.