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05/23/2016: Science: Nurturing Success From Failure

300ft_after_hi-1200x807On a calm November evening in 1988, the 300 foot radio telescope at Green Bank Observatory collapsed. While the collapse was a huge blow to radio astronomy, it is somewhat surprising that it lasted as long as it did. The radio telescope was proposed in 1960 as a way to fill the observational gap between earlier radio telescopes and telescope arrays such as the VLA, and was intended to operate for about five years. In a way it was meant to nurture success out of failure.

 At the time, the major radio telescope under construction was Green Bank’s 140 foot telescope. This telescope was polar-aligned, and had a tracking mechanism that could follow objects as they moved across the sky. This would allow for high-precision observations of radio objects such as pulsars. Unfortunately the gearing necessary to move such a large telescope was plagued with flaws, and the construction of the telescope faced increasing delays and costs. While the 300-foot telescope was larger, it was also lighter and had limited mobility, making it cheaper and easier to build. It depended upon the rotation of the Earth to bring objects into its view for about 40 seconds before drifting out of range, but that was enough to make good observations of things like pulsar remnants. It was also able to make a survey of the radio sky at a higher precision than ever before. When the 140 foot telescope was finally completed in 1965, it was able to further these discoveries, and even made radio observations of complex molecules in space, opening the door to astrochemistry.

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5/18/2016: Radio observatory on every campus is RRI’s dream

Bengaluru-based Raman Research Institute (RRI) is aiming at making radio astronomy so easily accessible and exciting to undergraduate science students “that they should be able to reach an observatory even in their pyjamas after dinner”.

To achieve that, the institute is working on a project – a first in India – to see academic institutions open up radio astronomy observatories on their respective campuses to fire up the passion among students who can conduct creative research in this field.

As of now, three Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), two Indian Institutes of Science Education and Research (IISERs), the Thiruvananthapuram-based Indian Institute of Space Technology (IIST) as well as BITS Pilani in Rajasthan, have evinced interest in joining the RRI project, named Sky Watch Array Network (SWAN).

Published by The Bangalore Mirror.  See more at:


Telescopes of the Green Bank Observatory

With over fifty years of experience in radio astronomy and uniquely located within the National and West Virginia Radio Quiet Zones, the Green Bank Observatory (GBO) is home to seven large radio telescopes ranging in size from 14m – 100m in diameter. The site also has significant infrastructure which allows for the installation of any instrument which may benefit from the radio quiet location of the site, as well as an excellent test range for receivers and other hardware and a large anechoic chamber outfitted for testing antenna beam patterns and radio emissions from all types of equipment. The primary function of the GBO is for scientific research of all types. As a result the facility telescopes have been used in a wide variety of ways, including satellite tracking, spacecraft tracking, atmospheric studies, monitoring of astronomical and planetary phenomenon, and educational programs.

Active telescopes on site

Historic and other telescopes on site


Science Community

Community Zoom – attend our bi-weekly talks presented by your peers in radio astronomy

Scientific Staff – Meet the scientists of the GBO

Meetings & Workshops

For Observers

Observing with the GBT

Observer Training Workshops

Observer Training Videos

Proposing to use the GBT – Includes info about our most recent proposal call

GBT Surveys

The GBT is used for a number of surveys that exploit the unique capabilities of the telescope. Learn More


Learn more about the telescopes of the GBO, including the Green Bank Telescope

Latest Science News

Science 2020-2030


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For Teachers 

We offer everything from pulsar searches to short courses in astronomy.

For Students

The Green Bank Observatory has special programs for almost everyone! Programs for students as young as third grade, all the way through graduate school.

Educational Resources

Check out a list of educational resources here

The WorldWide Telescope is an online tool for visualizing the cosmos. It’s not a physical telescope, it’s a suite of free and open source software and data sets that combine to create stunning scientific visualizations and stories.

Do you like playing with data to find interesting trends? Check out “Glue!” An open-source Python library to explore relationships within and between related datasets. From astronomy, to data science, to medicine — Glue is useful across disciplines!

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