First light for radio telescope!

Beam map made by scanning the radio telescope across the Sun

First light! Beam map made by scanning the radio telescope across the Sun

The students in Wesleyan’s upper-level Radio Astronomy course have spent the semester assembling a Small Radio Telescope (SRT), designed by Alan Rogers at Haystack Observatory. Today the newest member of Wes’s telescopic arsenal saw first light! We employed the total power capability to detect the Sun and used it to map out the telescope beam (spectroscopy is still in the works). Students in Wesleyan astronomy classes can use this telescope to study bright radio sources like the Sun, Cyg-X, and Cas A; map galactic rotation (detect your own dark matter!); and practice principles of radio astronomy.

Many, many thanks are due to the experts who advised the students on assembling the different system components, and worked on some of the hairier machining and electronics: Jon Wallace (Wes alumnus, SARA member, and radio telescope builder extraordinaire), Dave and Bruce Strickland (of the Wesleyan machine shop), and Mike Koziol (our electronics wizard). Wesleyan is the first university to assemble the upgraded SRT system based on the parts list and plans published by Haystack, rather than buying the system as a kit as other universities were able to do in the past, so we needed all the help we could get.  Sophomore Laiya Ackman also volunteered her free time to help assemble the dish.

Everyone gathers around to cut the ribbon!

 

After the ribbon cutting

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can see photos from the official Wesleyan photo blog here.  And here are a few pictures from various stages of the construction process:

The completed Feed/LNA!  Note that they are standing in a paraboloid shape with the feed at the focus.  Yes, they did that on purpose.

The completed Feed/LNA! Note that they are standing in a paraboloid shape with the feed at the focus. Yes, they did that on purpose.

 

Hoisting the completed dish onto the observatory roof

Hoisting the completed dish onto the observatory roof

Raising the telescope mast upright.  This photo was only sort of staged (just like the actual Iwo Jima photo it is meant to evoke!)

Raising the telescope mast upright. This photo was only sort of staged (just like the famous Iwo Jima photo it is meant to evoke!)

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