All posts by Sue Ann Heatherly

PSC Training Workshop News

Teachers AND students who are joining us for our certification workshop this month:
1. We held a Teacher Informational meeting last week, which has been posted. If you didn’t make that meeting, check it out.
2. Tomorrow, we will host an optional  technical check in at 7 PM using Zoom. Look for an email telling you how to connect. We will show you around the two websites we will be using, and the forum where you will post homework, and have discussions with each other and the PSC astronomers. We will meet by Zoom every week during the workshop.
3. By the end of this week we will post week one materials – a few short intro videos to watch, and a homework assignment. Our official FIRST workshop meeting will be Thursday, February 15 at 7 PM using Zoom. We would like to have a discussion about the week one videos and homework – so do week one work BEFORE the meeting on the 15th.  then we repeat this structure every week.  If you miss a week, just keep up with the work and post to the forum, we will always be there and ready to help!

Special PSC lecture on Gravitational waves on Jan 18, 2018

Happy new year! We are so excited to begin another year of discovery with you all. We would like to kick off the year with a guest lecture on the recent discoveries of gravitational waves by LIGO by WVU graduate student Belinda Cheeseboro. Belinda has been an author on the recent discovery papers and will tell you all you need to know about the greatest discovery of this century so far! She will talk for about 20-25 minutes, followed by time for questions.
Please join us on Thursday, January 18, 2018 at 7 pm EST at

The PSC is seeking teachers and students!

The Pulsar Search Collaboratory is starting a new round of training for teachers and students in February!! Learn about pulsars from renowned radio astronomers Maura McLaughlin and Duncan Lorimer, and get your hands on some data! Learn more about the program and join us! Our next online training will begin February 1, 2018 with an online meeting with educators, followed by six training modules. This session includes weekly webchats with the astronomers! Don’t miss this!

College Credit Available to High School Students

Active PSC student members may sign up for very inexpensive college credits from WVU!  You have to do more work than just qualifying for Capstone or PSC Camp, but it is totally worth it.  If you are interested you can take a look at the PSC_syllabus.2018

If you are interested in enrolling, please email Maura McLaughlin ( and also apply online at and complete steps 1 (the online app) and Step 2 (an enrollment form which has to be printed and signed off by a school guidance counselor).

You must have a GPA of at least 3.0 and this form also must be signed by your parents. The course CRN is 17313.

You will be registered once you’ve completed the application.  The cost is $75/credit for both in state and out of state.  This is a really good deal and far cheaper than the cost-per-credit you’d pay as an undergraduate!

Terzan 5– the pulsar gift that keeps on giving

Globular clusters are so cool.  They are really old… globular clusters contain the oldest of stars, and date back to the beginning of our Milky Way, and may be a good place to look for alien civilizations!  And they are dense- hosting a million stars in a volume only 100 light years across. It is this fact that interests astronomers using pulsars as a way to probe the inner structure and origin of these ancient relics.t5pulsars_side

Globular cluster Terzan 5 is home to 37 known pulsars! Many of these are rapidly spinning pulsars known as millisecond pulsars. Astronomers have bean measuring Terzan 5’s uneven tug of gravity on these pulsars to determine the internal structure of the cluster.

Read more here!

Lorimer Burst Discovery Story in WVU Magazine!


The universe is sending us 10,000 messages every day. You can’t see them. You can’t understand them. But then again, neither can anybody else.

Astrophysics professor Duncan Lorimer was sitting at his desk in Hodges Hall at West Virginia University in early 2007 when one of his undergraduate students walked in. Physics and political science senior David Narkevic had been looking through readouts of radio signals from the Parkes Radio Telescope in Australia. He was looking for more examples of a kind of rotating star—a pulsar—that emits very short radio signals. And he found something.

It was strange. A dark line in a place on the graph that meant it was incredibly far away. If the reading was right, it was possible that the signal was both a billion light years away and a billion years in the past.

Lorimer took a look. And then he put it aside. It probably wasn’t anything. “I kind of told him to go back to work, and I put it in a drawer,” Lorimer said.

Read the rest in WVU Magazine.

PSC College Course is Back!

We will again be offering the PSC for WVU credit this year. This is a fantastic opportunity for students to get three credits under their belt before starting college, and to have a tangible reward for their PSC work.
  • Please read the course syllabus carefully to determine if you  are eligible,  and would like to enroll.
  • The fee will be $153 for the three-credit course. The first step for students is to fill out this registration form: and fax it to the number on the form. The CRN is 19076 and course name is ASTR 293A. We’d like to get all of the registrations in before the end of the year, if possible.
  • Also, if you do sign students up, please let Maura  know so she can stay on top of the applications and make sure they get through the system in time (maura.mclaughlin-at-

Pulsar Candidates Found– Followup to occur this Thursday night!

Our intrepid pulsar sleuths may have uncovered some pulsar gold! We will be holding a followup session on 2-3 new pulsar candidates this Thursday night– starting at 10:45 PM. Would you like to call in to the control room and find out how it’s going?

If you would like to be on site for the session, that could probably be arranged as well. We have several students joining us who discovered the candidates. We’d be happy to host a few more!

Send an email to Sue Ann at, and I’ll tell you how to connect!