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The Very Large Array’s Radio Sundial

15 Feb 2018, 13:25 UTC
The Very Large Array’s Radio Sundial
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

In 1955, Australian radio astronomer Ron Bracewell joined the faculty of Stanford University and established a radio astronomy observatory on the campus. Constructing an array of 32 10-foot-diameter antennas – each of which was mounted on a concrete pillar, and dubbed the Stanford “Cross.” The radio array was used to make daily maps of the sun from June 1962 to August 1973 and to study, among other things, the refraction phenomena in the high solar corona. Over the course of 20 years, Bracewell invited visiting astronomers to chisel their names onto these pillars, amassing 220 signatures from scientists and Noble Prize winners — sort of a who’s who in the radio astronomy world. After the telescope was decommissioned in the early 1980’s, preservationists worked diligently to recover parts of the array. In 2012, the NRAO was able to secure 10 of remaining pillars and each one was transported to the Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array in New Mexico, where a team of radio astronomers fashioned a radio sundial.
The idea of a radio sundial seems oxymoronic. Radio waves are invisible to the human eye and only a small portion of the electromagnetic spectrum is visible to us. When we ...

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