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 12 with a teacher meeting, followed by  six weekly webchats with one of our astronomers! We meet using an online platform called Zoom. Zoom works great on all computers and most smart phones.
    1. Pros:  You get to meet with our astronomers!  plus you will have an active group to communicate with on our forum.
    2. 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!
  2.  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.
  3. 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: Teacher Meeting
Q/A session on registering students, and participating in the training

Week One

  • Pulsar Content: Introduction to Pulsars and the PSC
  • How to: Use the Robotic 20 Meter Telescope
  • Q/A session
  • Homework: use the 20 Meter Telescope to take data. Discuss on the Forum

Week Two

  • Q/A: Homework discussion
  • Pulsar Content: Pulsar Properties
  • How to: Use the ATNF Catalog
  • Homework:
    • Choose a personal pulsar to learn more about!
    • Use the ATNF Catalog to plot pulsar properties. Discuss on the Forum

Week Three

  • Q/A: Homework One and Two discussion. We will discuss your ATNF plot adventures!
  • Pulsar Content: Dispersion Measure (DM) with Maura McLaughlin
  • How to: See if a DM is reasonable
  •  Homework:
    • Observing Known Pulsars with the 20 Meter Telescope, discuss plots on the forum!
    •  Watch the Video: Intro to your Data: Prepfold Plots

Week Four

  • Q/A: Discuss Video, and reinforce knowledge on Prepfold Plots
    • Examine 20 Meter pulsar plots
  • Pulsar Content: RRATs and FRBs
  • Homework:
    • Watch video: How to grade Single Pulse Plots

Week Five

  • Q/A: Review Single Pulse Plots
    • Let’s score plots together!
  • Pulsar Content: Gravitational Waves and how pulsar timing can be used to detect them!
  • Homework: 
    • Certification  Step 1!!
    • Teacher/Mentor Homework: Action plan Development!

Week Six

  • Discuss Certification 1. Q/A session.
  • What comes next: Opportunities for you as a PSC Member.
  • Homework: Certification Step 2!!

Optional Week 7 Session to Complete Certification Step 2

Useful Resources

Practice Plots
Gotcha Plots
DM/ATNF Checker
PSC Manuals
Pulsar FAQ

PSC student De'Shang Ray working with Maura McLaughlin

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