PSC Online Training


The PSC online training will prepare you to be diligent, observant researchers  who can discover new pulsars, rule out interference, and sift through mountains of data just as our astronomers, graduate students and undergraduate students do.   All PSC members–students and teachers– who want to access and analyze GBT data, should complete the six modules outlined below. It’s not hard, but this may be a new world to many of you, and it’s important to get it right! There are several ways you can complete this course:

  1. Participate in real time with others.  Our next workshop begins October 3, 2019 with an intro meeting, followed by  six weekly webchats (from October 10- November 14, 2019) with one of our astronomers! We meet using an online platform called Zoom. Zoom works great on all computers and most smart phones.
    • Pros:  You get to meet with our astronomers!  plus you will have an active group to communicate with on our forum.
    • Cons: It may not fit your schedule– Even if you can’t be in on the weekly webchats, having a group to communicate with is the best!
  1.  A teacher could participate in the first option and then lead students through the course materials  at a later time.  This works really well too.
  2. Self-paced, and asynchronous. Let’s say a teacher is willing to administer the program – and get  students signed up but doesn’t want to participate in the training, AND you found out about the program after the real-time session was over.  That’s ok.   Just get started.  We are ALWAYS on the forum, and will answer any questions you have along the way.

Below is  a module listing and  pacing schedule for our training.  These modules are available to  teachers, once they log in, and to students once their account is activated, and they have taken a survey that will be presented to them when they log into the database for the first time.

During our real-time course beginning in October,  new materials will be posted here on a weekly basis.

Week 0: Intro Meeting
Q/A session on registering students, and participating in the training, and a little bit about the radio universe.

 A tech-check-in to make sure everyone knows their way around the websites we’ll be using and understands the structure of the workshop. Here is a short video recap if you missed it:

Week One

  • Pulsar Content: Introduction to the PSC and pulsars
  • How to: Use the Robotic 20 Meter Telescope
  • Homework:
    • Watch the Videos and discuss on the Forum
    • Use the 20 Meter Telescope to take data, and discuss on the Forum.

Week Two

  • Pulsar Content: Dispersion Measure (DM) with Maura McLaughlin
  •  Homework:
    • Choose a personal pulsar to learn more about!
    • Practice Using the DM tool

Week Three

  • Pulsar Plots I – Prepfold Plots
  • How to: Use the ATNF Catalog
  • Homework:
    • Read section 2 and 3  of Ryan Lynch’s PSC excellent guide
    • Watch Joe Swiggum’s ATNF Catalog Video
    • Watch the Anatomy of a Prepfold Plot video
    • Use the ATNF Catalog to plot pulsar properties. Discuss on the Forum

Week Four

  • Pulsar Content: Strange Pulsars
  • Pulsar Plots II – Single Pulse Plots
  • Homework:
    • Practice Plots!
    • Forum discussion

Week Five

  • Pulsar Content:  Fast Radio Bursts – the coolest mystery brought to you by pulsar data!!
  • Homework: 

Week Six

  • Pulsar content: Digging into Pulsar Properties.
  • What comes next: Opportunities for you as a PSC Member.
  • Homework: Keep working on Certification

Optional Week 7 Session to Complete Certification Step 2


  • A Ripple In Spacetime by Belinda Cheeseboro

Useful Resources

Practice Plots
Gotcha Plots
DM/ATNF Checker
PSC Manuals
Pulsar FAQ
PSC Certification
Course Notes

Request a Webchat or Visit!

PSC student De'Shang Ray working with Maura McLaughlin

Dr. Maura McLaughlin working with high school student pulsar discoverer De’Shang Ray.