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Press Kit

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The Green Bank Observatory is home to eight telescopes including the Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope (GBT)

Green Bank Observatory employs 100 people on the Green Bank site year-round, and 140 people during summer months

Approximately 40,000 visitors come to the Green Bank site each year
More than 3,500 students participate in Green Bank’s educational programs within the past year, representing states from all across the U.S.

Last year, 54 different groups came to spend at least one night and use the 40-ft educational telescope for research

We average 12-16 residential workshops each year, for ages ranging from middle school through undergraduate students, graduate students, and teachers, as well as the general public

Green Bank staff travel around the country and around the world to take part in educational programs and to talk about the science and technology of the Green Bank Observatory

The site technology development program typically works with 5-15 college/universities at any one time

60% of the Green Bank staff are native from Pocahontas County and West Virginia

The National Radio Quiet Zone is administered for Green Bank Observatory and the Sugar Grove Research Facility

The site telescopes range in diameter from 40 feet – 330 feet (12 – 100 meters)

The Green Bank site was dedicated on October 17, 1957

The West Virginia Radio Astronomy Zoning Act was passed in 1957

The National Radio Quiet Zone was established in 1958

The first undergraduate summer students arrive in Green Bank in 1959

The first telescope was completed in 1958 – an 85 foot diameter telescope which remains on site today

The first NRAO interferometric measurements were in Green Bank in 1964 (with two 85 foot telescopes)

Ground breaking for the GBT was in 1991, it was dedicated in 2000, and went into operation in 2003

Full high frequency operation of the GBT was achieved in 2011.

The Green Bank Observatory was originally funded by the National Science Foundation

The majority of the site buildings, telescopes, and facilities were either built by, or are owned by, the National Science Foundation

In 2012 95% of the funding for the site operations was provided by the National Science Foundation 

In 2017 only about 65% of the site funding comes from the National Science Foundation, and by 2019 that could be reduced to 30% or even less .

The GBT cost roughly $95,000,000 to build

The GBT is the largest fully-steerable telescope in the world

The GBT is running observations roughly 6,500 hours each year, more than most other observatories

For each hour of time available for science on the GBT, roughly 3-4 hours are requested

More than 600 individual scientists and students proposed to use the GBT within the past year

More than $25,000,000 has been invested in the GBT in the past five years by colleges, universities, the NSF, and the state of West Virginia

The surface of the GBT is perfectly smooth to a noise level of 260 microns (5 human hairs)

The pointing accuracy of the GBT is 2 arc seconds, able to resolve a quarter at 3 miles

The GBT weighs almost 17 million pounds and stands over 485 feet above ground level

The GBT’s collecting area is 2.4 acres