Just over twenty years ago, in the summer of the year 2000, the National Science Foundation’s Green Bank Telescope (GBT) was dedicated for service. Taller than the Statue of Liberty, with a dish that can hold two football fields, the GBT remains the largest fully steerable radio telescope in the world. To celebrate the creation of such a colossal instrument, and the scientific research made possible, the Observatory will be holding a special virtual workshop April 21st to 22nd, GBT@20: Twenty Years of Innovation and Discovery.
Unlike many new large facilities and telescope projects that undergo decades-long planning before construction, the GBT was designed and built over a period of just 10 years, in the wake of the collapse of the 300-foot telescope.
Many people rose to the challenge to make such an extraordinary project happen, including George Seielstad, director of the Observatory at the start of construction of the GBT. In a recent interview with Observatory staff, he emphasized the importance of perseverance in a project of this scope, “No one will hand you anything… there will be a lot of reasons why it shouldn’t be done or couldn’t be done, but if you believe in it, and don’t give up, it will happen.”
Sue Ann Heathery, director of education for the Observatory, and a major force in the workshop organizing committee, shared, “As we planned this event, we took a look at the original design proposal to see how the last 20 years of GBT science stacks up against the best guesses of the day.” Keynote talks are organized along science drivers that highlight the GBT’s past discoveries and what is in the works for the near future. Panels will tell stories from the construction and commissioning of the telescope.
Several presentations from the virtual workshop will be shared live through Observatory social media for the public to enjoy. Presentations will be recorded and these links will be made available to the public after the workshop is completed.
The Observatory education team has created a variety of resources to celebrate this anniversary. Watch archival film of the GBT’s construction and dedication, interviews with key staff, and design your own GBT. The Galaxy Gift shop will also be featuring many GBT items, all sales support the Observatory’s operations.
Find out more about the workshop and 20th anniversary resources here.
The Green Bank Observatory is a facility of the National Science Foundation and is operated by Associated Universities, Inc.
Jill Malusky, Green Bank Observatory Public Relations, firstname.lastname@example.org