For Students

PSC students participate in an online course that teaches them about pulsar science and radio astronomy and prepares them to become competent researchers. The course is led by world renowned astronomers Dr. Maura McLaughlin and Duncan Lorimer. Once trained, PSC students gain access to radio astronomy data taken at the giant Green Bank Telescope.

The Green Bank Telescope.

The Green Bank Telescope. Photo by Kevin Evans

At 17 million pounds in weight with a dish big enough to hold two football fields, the Green Bank Telescope is truly Impressive. It is one of the most sensitive instruments in the world and great at collecting and amplifying the tiny signals we receive from pulsars.

Pulsar astronomy is a BIG Data science. Just 2.5 minutes of observing with the GBT results in 3 gigabytes of data. Therefore, the data PSC students analyze is new– and has not been analyzed by other scientists. Careful PSC members can make new and significant scientific discoveries, and be authors on published papers as the ones shown here.

To participate, all PSC students must be 13 years old or older and be sponsored by a teacher. PSC students complete a training course to become certified to gain access to GBt data. It is not mandatory that teachers participate in PSC training, but it is highly encouraged. At a minimum we do expect teachers to gain permission from your school to participate in the PSC, to activate you once you register, to collect consent forms, and to keep an eye on your progress. Ask your teacher to complete the application!

After your teacher has registered and activated his/her school account, she/he will create a team for you, and you can register.

We use two websites for the PSC:  this one,, and the database site,  All of the training materials, communication with others, and some important diagnostic tools are located here at

The database is where your data lives. You will go there to register, choose your school team and a user name etc.  Once you register and your teacher activates your account – you will use your username and pass word to access both sites.

Then it’s time to learn! Visit the PSC Training link to learn more.

You can earn College Credit as well!  Check out the PSC_syllabus.2018