All posts by Sue Ann Heatherly

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!

PSC Campstone cancelled due to lack of enrollment

Gang ,

We only had 3 students enroll, and so unfortunately we have decided to cancel Campstone for this summer. We feel bereft, not having a PSC experience this summer though, so we thought we might host a weekend experience in September. I’d like to hear from you– let me know if you think it is a good idea, and you would be interested in coming. We are thinking of September 19,20,21. The 21st is our annual open house, and you would have some great opportunities to tour the labs and meet the scientists and engineers, machinists, and mechanics who work at the NRAO.

Send a quick email to Sue Ann at subject line: PSC weekend, and say I’m in if you are interested in coming.

Welcome to the new website

Here we are!  This is the new home for the PSC: ( will still work too).  One of the features of this new website is that we have a forum!  We hope this will replace the old mode of communicating through  the email. If you use the forum to talk about plots or other PSC related stuff, then all PSC members will see it.  But I think that is wonderful, as there is so much expertise  in the PSC group.We have also jettisoned the school pages.  If you desire to use the old google site, it has not disappeared, but we will not be updating it.  Go to:…
~ Sue Ann