„EifelDishes“ & „SpaceKoelsch2“ – in 55 pictures!
Welcome to the „EifelDishes“ Observatory Tour which about 18 space geeks took on 14 January 2012: we set out from Köln-Deutz where the first opportunity for a group picture immediately materialized. It wouldn’t be the last one. [POSTSCRIPT: two of these pictures!]
Lost in the woods … the convoy drive to the first to two radio telescopes to be visited ended in a muddy forest road where advice by friendly workers was only of marginal help. Hey, we are space geeks, not rangers!
We’ve finally made it, to the „Astropeiler“ Stockert, a historical radio telescope also used for secret radar experiments half a century ago. After an introductory talk [POSTSCRIPT: the complete presentation, German version], first the basement was visited, which also houses a remarkable ‚museum‘ of very ancient computer technology.
Live observing demonstration with the refurbished „Astropeiler“: during the visit the dish was pointed at three different sources, object #1 being a patch of the Milky Way – the spectrum shows two hydrogen emission lines which are caused by clouds moving at different speeds. Which in turn hints at the spiral structure of the Milky Way. Then the dish moved on; note the blurry Az/El coordinate display.
Object #2: the supernova remnant Cassiopeia A, the brightest radio source in the sky (in the upper plot together with the H emission spectrum from the first pointing) and about 11,000 lightyears away. Here three hydrogen absorption lines trace another section of the Milky Way’s spiral structure as the diagram illustrates.
Finally object #3 was the distant radio galaxy Cygnus A, almost as intense as Cas A but roughly 750 million light years away: Here the spectrum per se isn’t very telling but the very existence of this strong signal from such a great distance is. And no, the Astropeiler cannot resolve and thus image either these sources at at these frequencies the beam measures 1/2°.
Finally the gang was able to climb up inside the instrument (a feeling like in a submarine) and also watch and image it rotating, with even some Sun coming out. [POSTSCRIPT: the outcome of the smartphone video effort!] Another group photo was inevitable [POSTSCRIPT: which is contained in this full collection of Bierwald’s pics] …
Dish #2 was the 100-m radio telescope in Effelsberg which just turned 40. [POSTSCRIPT: what that panorama head saw: also later & more.] Also on the site in a valley is one of the German LOFAR stations; see this in-depth report about another station that is very similar. [POSTSCRIPT: an ASTRON Release on current LOFAR science!] And did I mention that a group photo … 🙂
Night falls over the Effelsberg radio telescope [POSTSCRIPT:a big picture …] as the group is able to climb the structure and also visit the cable twister deep underground.
Typical scene at a SpaceTweetup, now at its final destination, a Cologne Brauhaus: most people hammering on their smartphones (why talk to your neighbor when you can tweet him?) while Christian Lüthen arranges space mascots and food for yet another thought-provoking photograph … 🙂
Frolicking at the SpaceKoelsch2 (a sequel to one of the prequels of the first SpaceTweetup in Europe last September) – and presenting organizer Henning Krause from DLR with an SDO Camilla-grazed card and some presents. This [POSTSCRIPT: the first eleven picture collections by other participants here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here – and reports here and here] was certainly not the last event of this kind: follow this Facebook group and the Twitter hashtag #SpaceTweetup for information!