Science Newsletter: Special Edition for the 238th American Astronomical Society Meeting

The Green Bank Observatory at AAS 238

For the June 2021 meeting several Observatory staff will be sharing presentations, sessions, and iPosters. This list is evolving as the full breadth of meeting items that mention the Green Bank Telescope (GBT) and the Green Bank Observatory are brought to our attention. 

View a PDF of the list here. 

We’re using the #AAS238 hashtag on our Twitter @GreenBankObserv to share all of our conference news and resources – be sure to follow along!

Download a virtual goody bag.

Coming July 2021, Call for Proposals: 2022A Semester

In July, the Green Bank Observatory will invite scientists to participate in the 2022A Semester Call for Proposals for the Green Bank Telescope (GBT).  

The submission deadline for Semester 2022A proposals will be Monday, 2 August 2021, at 17:00 EST (22:00 UTC).

Proposal preparation and submission remain via the NRAO Proposal Submission Tool (PST) available at NRAO Interactive Services. Note that use of the PST requires registration.  Proposers who need assistance with proposal preparation or have questions regarding the Call or GBT capabilities should contact Observatory staff via the Helpdesk.

View previous GBO Semester Calls for Proposals online.

2021 Training Workshops

(Tentative date) September 13-21, 2021 in Green Bank: Single Dish Observing School, open to GBT users and the scientific community: The Single Dish Observing School will include a week of astronomy tutorials followed by a GBT-specific training workshop. We will update this page as we have more information. We currently plan to hold this 9 day workshop in person at the Green Bank Observatory. Applications for the school will open on July 1, 2021 (tentative) at which point we will announce whether the workshop will be virtual or in-person. More information can be found here.

The Green Bank Telescope: 20 Years of Innovation and Discovery 

This year and last, Green Bank Observatory commemorated several milestones of the Green Bank Telescope. View a variety of resources, from archival photos to videos of the GBT’s construction, and new interviews with individuals fundamental to the creation of the world’s largest fully steerable radio telescope. Recordings from the virtual workshop, “The Green Bank Telescope: 20 Years of Innovation and Discovery,” held Wednesday-Thursday April 21-22, are available to watch. Hear exciting stories from individuals who played integral roles in the work it took to create this impressive instrument. 

2022 Summer Student Research Assistantships

2021 students began their orientation in late May. 

Interested in applying for summer 2022? Keep an eye on the NRAO application website, which should open December 2021.

There are several types of opportunities available for undergraduate and graduate students. Students who are interested in Astronomy and have a background in Astronomy, Physics, Engineering, Computer Science, and/or Math are preferred. Posts at Green Bank include a stipend. Affordable housing is available on-site.

Applicants from members of underrepresented groups in STEM are strongly encouraged. We have a commitment to providing an inclusive, exciting educational experience for all young scientists. Summer students who would like to encourage future summer students can also opt in to be a Mentor in PING: (which stands for Physics Inspiring the Next Generation) Camp for rising 9th graders interested in STEM. This program happens during Green Bank Observatory summer student experiences. 

Plan ahead to apply this coming December!

Observatory Updates Logo for June Pride Month

You’ll see an update to the Observatory logo on social media for the month of June in recognition of pride month. The Observatory is committed to promoting diversity and inclusion in our staff and the sciences. A variety of resources about the LGBTQ+ community in STEM will be shared all month long on social media. 

2021 Green Bank Observatory Facilities Booklet

Did you know that each year we release a full color 20 page booklet all about the Observatory? This year’s version is an interactive PDF, jam packed with links to all the resources listed inside. Download your copy today!

Need a printed resource? We can do that! Email ude.o1716981118arn@y1716981118ksula1716981118mj1716981118 to receive free copies by mail for your office, department, classroom, or group. 

Green Pea Galaxies: Live Short and Prosper

Pictured left the Arecibo Telescope prior to its collapse in 2020, credit UCF. Pictured right, the Green Bank Telescope, credit NSF/GBO

Looking up at the night’s sky, twinkling with celestial objects, do you ever dream of discovering something new? How about something that sheds light on the early days of the Universe? Green Pea galaxies are small, relatively nearby galaxies that are forming stars ferociously, with an intensity rare in today’s universe. An international yeam of astronomers from the United States and India used the Arecibo Telescope and the Green Bank Telescope (GBT) in 2019 to carry out the first large-scale search for atomic hydrogen, the primary fuel for star-formation, in Green Pea galaxies. Read more.

How long is a day on Venus? Scientists crack mysteries of our closest neighbor

Fundamentals such as how many hours are in a Venusian day provide critical data for understanding the divergent histories of Venus and Earth, UCLA researchers say. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Venus is an enigma. It’s the planet next door and yet reveals little about itself. An opaque blanket of clouds smothers a harsh landscape pelted by acid rain and baked at temperatures that can liquify lead.

Now, new observations using the Green Bank Telescope from the safety of Earth are lifting the veil on some of Venus’ most basic properties. By repeatedly bouncing radar off the planet’s surface over the last 15 years, a UCLA-led team has pinned down the precise length of a day on Venus, the tilt of its axis and the size of its core. The findings are published in the journal Nature Astronomy. Read more here.

Scientists uncover warehouse-full of complex molecules never before seen in space

Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon molecules overlaid on the Taurus Molecular Cloud, a large blue-white cloud made of gas and dust with large and small stars of varying luminosities interspersed throughout. Aromatic molecule structures shown in order from left to right: 1-cyanonaphthalene, 1-cyano-cyclopentadiene, HC11N, 2-cyanonaphthalene, Vinylcyanoacetylene, 2-cyano-cyclopentadiene, benzonitrile, E-cyanovinylacetylene, HC4NC, propargylcyanide.

Scientists have discovered a vast, previously unknown reservoir of new aromatic material in a cold, dark molecular cloud by detecting individual polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon molecules in the interstellar medium for the first time, and in doing so are beginning to answer a three-decades-old scientific mystery: how and where are these molecules formed in space?

“We had always thought polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons were primarily formed in the atmospheres of dying stars,” said Brett McGuire, Assistant Professor of Chemistry at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the Project Principal Investigator for GOTHAM, or Green Bank Telescope (GBT) Observations of TMC-1: Hunting Aromatic Molecules. “In this study, we found them in cold, dark clouds where stars haven’t even started forming yet.” Read the full release here.

New astronomical survey utilizes the Green Bank Telescope to give clearest view of ionized gas in the Milky Way

Astronomical surveys mapping regions of the Galaxy have been collected and studied for decades. These surveys allow researchers to compare previous data, further characterize objects or images of the sky, and learn more through statistical analysis. For the National Science Foundation’s Green Bank Telescope (GBT) Diffuse Ionized Gas Survey (GDIGS), researchers took advantage of the power of the GBT, located in Pocahontas County, West Virginia, to better understand the impact of massive stars in the Milky Way. Read the full release here.

Observatory staff lead new sustainability initiatives

The Green Bank Observatory employees established a sustainability committee in late 2020 to develop new initiatives for local residents to improve their environment and their lives. Local resources for recycling, local food, and other sustainability tips are shared here. In May, staff volunteered to plant native trees on campus and also participated in a county wide road clean-up (pictured above.) See more here.

NASA Mars Rover Touches Down, Green Bank Telescope Receives Signal

Green Bank Observatory scientist Will Armentrout and data analyst Amber Bonsall staffed the GBT control room during Perseverance’s touchdown. This image is taken from the Observatory’s livestream coverage.

Cheers could be heard throughout the Green Bank Observatory as NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover successfully touched down on the red planet Thursday, February 18th, at 3:55 p.m. EDT. The National Science Foundation’s Green Bank Telescope (GBT) helped relay communications from the rover to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) located in southern California. Read more here.

Observatory staff support school contact with International Space Station

Friday, May 7th, students from Green Bank Elementary-Middle School, located next door to the Observatory, contacted astronaut Mark Vande Hei on the International Space Station (ISS) using amateur radio. This was made possible by Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) and the support of several staff from the Observatory. Learn more here and watch the video. 

Science Center offering NEW Outdoor Programs

The Science Center is offering new outdoor programs this summer! Reserve your spot now, before they sell out for walking tours, seated presentations, and docent activities. Buy a boxed lunch for your visit, too! See all dates and times here. Visitors are always welcome to take a free, self-guided tour, walking and hiking the grounds. See maps and guides here. 

GBO Community Zooms: Operations Updates & Science News

The Observatory has been offering bi-monthly Zoom meetings to the scientific community to share updates on operations and projects. 

Never miss an update! Sign up for announcements here. 

Recordings are archived at the Observatory YouTube Channel. See them all here.

Galaxy Gift Shop Special AAS 238 Discount

AAS attendees are invited to use a discount code accessed through the Virtual Goody Bag shared at our booth in the virtual expo hall and our special conference webpage to save 10% off purchases at the Green Bank Observatory Galaxy Gift Shop 

We’re Hiring!

The Observatory is hiring NOW for a variety of positions!


Software Engineer

Electronics Engineer

Telescope Operations Division Head

Director of Green Bank Observatory

See all job descriptions and applications here.

In the coming years, the Observatory will be hiring a number of full-time, permanent positions. Keep an eye on our employment page to apply for these opportunities. Green Bank, West Virginia is an inclusive, creative, and tight-knit community. Our award winning staff come from the surrounding area, the country, and around the world, and they are proud to call this place home.

2021 Publications

GBT data has been cited in 27 publications in 2021. Our list is frequently updated. See what’s here now. Do you have an item to share? Let us know! Email ude.o1716981118arn@y1716981118ksula1716981118mj1716981118.