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At last, after much planning by the scientific organising committee, and a week of hard work, the first European Radio Interferometry School has finished (nothing to do with Eris by the way). Over the last week, thanks to RadioNet, students from all over Europe have attended lectures on calibration of data, spectral line astronomy, high and low frequency radio astronomy (hundreds of gigahertz and tens of megahertz respectively), polarisation, combining data from different arrays of telescopes, error analysis and designing experiments, amongst others. After all that, plus several associated tutorials which I helped out with, the students have hopefully gone away knowing enough to undertake their own radio astronomy observations using any of the many radio interferometers (such as the VLA, PdBI, GMRT, MERLIN, EVN, VLBA) around the world. If you are interested, the lecture notes are all online on the School wiki. It is hoped that these schools will become a regular event, held at a different European institute every two years in antiphase with the IRAM high frequency summer schools.

Even though I was helping out, I have learnt quite a bit from the week myself. For a start I now know what to do with high frequency data, not something that we can do with MERLIN due to the accuracy of the surfaces of our telescopes - to observe at a particular wavelength the surface of your telescope has to be accurate to at least an 8th of a wavelength. This is why mirrors are so shiny, they work at comparatively short wavelengths so they have to be very smooth. To observe at wavelengths of around 1.3 mm for example (a frequency of 230 GHz, routine for the IRAM interferometer), the average variations in the surface accuracy of your telescope must be less than 0.16 mm. MERLIN observes at frequencies much lower than this so our telescopes do not have to be so accurate.

Now the School is over, I plan on sleeping all weekend to recover, although I might find time to catch up on astro-ph and Stuart's reports from this week's AAS meeting in Cambridge.

Posted by Megan on Friday 09th Sep 2005 (21:32 UTC) | Add a comment | Permalink


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