Week One: Intro to Pulsars and Radio Astronomy Observing

Introduction to the training workshop.

Each week , we will post some short talks to get you ready to be a pulsar astronomer and contribute to the ongoing research on pulsars. We’d like  you to watch these videos and attempt the homework  (which is usually fun) BEFORE our weekly webchat. This will make the webchat  much more interactive–less lecture,  and more about what you want to know.  We want you to get to know the astronomers.  After all, they are going to be your colleagues once you become certified to analyze data!

  • Webchats are held each Thursday at 7 PM Eastern, and we will use Zoom to connect virtually. You will receive an email with the connection information each week.
  • Our discussions in between webchats will take place on the Forum ( see link in the main menu above). When you have a thought, question or comment, ask them there– everybody can benefit from the discussion, and chime in!
Week One October 1-7, 2020
Link to Webchat October 8, 2020@ 7 PM Eastern

Week 1 Videos:  Please view all of these and complete the associated assignments before our webchat.

Dr. Maura McLaughlin is an astronomer at West Virginia University.  She has made some real break though discoveries by studying pulsars ( Google her- she gives a mean Tedx talk!) To help you get introduced to pulsar astronomy, she created 2 short videos to share how pulsars are made, and why they are amazing.  The third video tells you why your work with astronomers in the PSC is so important. Please watch these videos  and post some thoughts in the Forum. Links to Forum questions are posted under the first two videos.

How are pulsars made?

Just how cool are pulsars?

Discuss on the Forum

What is the PSC?

Homework Assignments :

  1. Introduce yourself on the Forum
  2. Learn something cool about Dr. Maura McLaughlin’s research, and post it on the Forum
  3. We are going to let you use a research grade radio telescope!  Let’s be radio astronomers! Use the 20 Meter Radio Telescope to observe some objects representing the stages of a star’s life. Which objects emit radio waves? Here’s a list to choose from, or choose your own!

Some Observing Advice: Here’s some information on using our radio telescope.  When you have completed the assignment, talk about it on the forum. Here’s a “how to” video (Log in information is in the video).  Below it you can find some written advice if you prefer!

Log into skynet.unc.edu, Click on My Observatory > Radio Observing

First Window:

  • Add New Observation and select an object. Or Look up your target object by name.
  • Create a name for your observation– use your initials or some identifying phrase.
  • Save and Continue

Second Window:

  • Select “low resolution spectral/continuum mode“
  • don’t change anything else
  • Save and Continue

Third Window:

  • Select “daisy” as the sky pattern
  • Radius: 150 arc minutes
  • # petals: 4
  • duration: 20 seconds per petal, in this case 80 seconds
  • Save and Continue


Viewing your Data:

Return to skynet.unc.edu, and click the ID number beside your observation.  Then click the link to your data in the next window.  Your data will display on this website: www.gb.nrao.edu/20m.