Home | Science | GBT Observers | Visitor Facilities and Policies

Visitor Facilities and Policies

Welcome to Green Bank! We look forward to working with you .Please review the following information to ensure that your visit is both easy and rewarding.

The Green Bank Observatory operates the Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope (GBT), a 100 m fully-steerable radio telescope at the Green Bank facility. A full complement of radio receivers suitable for both line, pulsar, and continuum work are available from frequencies as low as 290 MHz to as high as 115 GHz. The GBT is operated from the Jansky Laboratory in Green Bank. On-line networked computers and display devices are provided at the Jansky Lab Control Room for the astronomer to use for real-time data reduction. Software reduction packages for these computers are provided and maintained by the staff. New software packages are continuously being developed.

The Green Bank Telescope has time available for all qualified astronomers from around the world through a peer-reviewed process. The procedure for submitting proposals to the GBT, and the mechanics of the evaluation and approval of these proposals, are outlined below.

Once scheduled on the telescope, the principal investigator has the responsibility for proper supervision of all aspects of the observing program. The Observatory staff endeavors to provide access to accurate calibration values, tables, and recommended techniques. Confirmation and proper application of data calibration techniques and overall confirmation of data quality is the sole responsibility of the observers. Please budget time for consultations with the staff and for calibration, pointing, and data quality checks during the observing run to ensure that the data will meet your scientific goals. Certified members of the project team may observe remotely.  To be certified for remote observing, observers must generally attend one of the GBO’s official observer training workshops typically held every spring and fall, or must visit the observatory for one-on-one training for a period long enough to ensure that there will be weather conditions suitable for scheduling the project (typically two to three weeks, depending on the nature of the project).  All observers should coordinate with observatory staff to prepare for observations well in advance of the first opportunity for them to be scheduled.

All visitors should be aware that radio emissions from common devices such as cell phones, portable computers and other appliances can be detrimental to the on-going observations with the GBT. There are some restrictions on the use of such devices in the Green Bank area.

Visit our page for Proposing to Use the GBT

A. The Green Bank Organization

The following individuals should be contacted when questions arise in their areas of responsibility:

  • Jim Jackson (x2828) Director, Green Bank Observatory
  • Toney Minter (x2275) GBT Science Operations and GBT Scheduler
  • Christine Plumley (x2270) GB Business Manager; responsible for Green Bank business management and administrative services.
  • Mark Barnes (x2227) Office Services Asst., arranges transportation, residence hall housing and cafeteria services.

B. Travel to Green Bank

Travel Arrangements

In principle, observers may use a number of area airports for their travel to Green Bank. These include Washington-Dulles (IAD), Pittsburgh (PIT), Charlottesville (CHO), Roanoke, VA (ROA), or Charleston, WV (CRW). In addition, limited Amtrak train service is available to Charlottesville and White Sulphur Springs, WV. Rental cars are available at most of the airports.

The Observatory can also send a driver for pickup at any of these airports or stations for a modest charge. It is most convenient if visitors can make travel plans and connections to Charlottesville whenever possible.

Directions to the site are available here.

Site Transportation

GBT observations are conducted from the Control Room in the Jansky Lab, located on the main business campus of the Green Bank site and just across the road from the Residence Hall and Cafeteria. In general, observers will have no need for transportation on site.

C. Green Bank Housing

Residence Hall

The Green Bank Observatory operates a residence hall where astronomers may stay while observing or reducing data after completion of their observations. Rooms are available as single, double, or triple occupancy, and students attending a degree conferring college or university and coming to Green Bank to use the telescope pay a discounted rate. In addition, there are four one-bedroom apartments with equipped kitchens which the astronomer may occupy. Cribs, high chairs, and fold-up beds are also available.   The Observatory also maintains a few 2-4-bedroom furnished houses on the observatory property which are available from time to time for astronomers wishing to come to Green Bank with their families for extended periods.


Housing reservations may be made by through the Green Bank Observatory Reservations System (GBORS) –  Questions can be sent to the reservation desk (gro.y1708596841rotav1708596841resbo1708596841bg@sn1708596841oitav1708596841reser1708596841)


Payment for lodging expenses should be made, if possible, prior to departure to Mark Barnes in Room 112 of the Jansky Laboratory between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.


11:00 a.m. Please drop key in the key return box in the Jansky laboratory.

Bed and Bath Linen

The Residence Hall rooms will be made-up prior to check-in and will be provided with adequate towels, wash cloths, soap, etc. For residents staying a week or more, rooms will be cleaned and linens changed once per week.

Personal Laundry

A washer and dryer are available for Residence Hall guests at the north end of the basement. Laundry detergent is provided.

Exercise and Recreation Rooms

An exercise room with a number of exercise devices, including treadmills, stationary bicycles, stair-steppers, weight machine, and free weights are available for use by Observatory visitors. The Exercise Room is located in the basement of the Residence Hall. In addition, a recreation room with a pool table and air hockey table is also located in the basement.

Site Access

Observatory visitors are welcome to tour the site by foot. Please stay on the paved roads and do not go underneath any of the telescopes. Please return to the main campus area at the east end of the site by dark.

D. Cafeteria Meal Hours

The site cafeteria, located on the south end of the Residence Hall, is open for business at the following times:

Monday – Friday7:30 – 9:30 a.m.12:00 – 1:00 p.m.

Cafeteria closed all other hours!


  • A self-service coffee room is available in the basement of the Jansky Lab (turn left at the base of the stairs) and in the Operations Canteen on the second floor of the Jansky Lab Addition, near the Control Room.
  • Residence Hall guests may purchase essential grocery items in the Residence Hall Lounge Kitchenette at any time.
  • Residence Hall guests may order special items for consumption during periods when the cafeteria is closed. Pre-order forms are available from the cafeteria. Orders must be placed by 4:00 p.m. Monday – Friday. These items will be identified for the guest and placed in the refrigerator in the lounge.
  • The Starlight Cafe in the Science Center is open from 11 a.m – 6 p.m., Thursday thru Monday before Memorial Day and 11 a.m – 7 p.m., daily after Memorial Day.

E. Telephone:

Local Calls: dial 9 and the 10-digit number. Long Distance: dial 9-1 and the 10-digit number. The site operator (Dial 0) located in Room 112 of the Jansky Lab (Mon.-Fri. 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) can provide assistance and directories.

Business Calls

Observers and other official visitors to the site may use the telephone facilities for legitimate calls in connection with Observatory business, within reason. Personal calls should be paid by the visitor (see below).

Personal Long Distance Calls

All commercial long distance calls should be paid by the visitor. There are two ways to do this: (1) use a personal telephone credit card (2) use a pre-paid telephone calling card. Pre-paid cards are available for purchase at the Reception Desk at the Jansky Lab. Please do not make direct-dialed long distance calls for personal business, if at all possible.

F. Green Bank Book Collection

An up-to-date collection of major astronomical journals is available in the Jansky Laboratory. In addition, a set of the National Geographic Society and Palomar Observatory Sky Survey prints is available for visitors and staff use.

A. Archive

The Observatory will archive and save all data from the GBT, with the possible exception of very large data volumes or data from user-supplied backends. These archives will be stored in a safe location and will be available for backup copies should they be needed at some point.

B. Data Proprietary Period

Following Observatory policy, Principle Investigators have proprietary rights to the data for 12 months following the observation. At the conclusion of this proprietary period, the data will be available from the Observatory Archive for reduction by others, upon their request. Those wishing to use data from the archive are encouraged to contact the original observers to ensure that any special issues concerning the data are understood. While this contact is encouraged, it is not required, and observers should be aware that the data will be in the public domain and subject to open use after 12 months.

A. Instrumentation/Software

Visitors who require special hardware or software configurations for their projects must make their requests at the time the proposal is submitted. Requests for non-standard facilities or capabilities will be considered in light of feasibility, priorities, TAC grade, project schedules, etc. Observers will be notified of the outcome when the results from the Time Allocation Committee are distributed. Last minute requests for non-standard capabilities cannot be granted, in general.

B. Proprietary

Each observer is scheduled on the telescope with the understanding that he or she is to pursue only the program, instrument(s), and source(s) described in his observing request. As we have many observers from various institutions working on related programs, we require that any observer wishing to change his program in any way from that which was accepted by the TAC, do so only with the consent of the Director and Telescope Scheduler.

C. Observer Comments

In an effort to improve our facilities and service, we request that observers completing their observations provide us with a brief summary of their observations, and remarks about any difficulties they encountered. A form for Observer Comments is available online (CAS account required). These remarks are usually distributed to a number of staff and managers, and are usually not kept confidential. Confidential remarks should be made to the Scheduler or Director.

D. Newsletter

The Observatory publishes a quarterly newsletter containing useful information about developments and the current status of the Observatory. If you have an interesting scientific result to contribute to the Newsletter, please contact the GBT Principle Scientist or the Telescope Scheduler.

E. User Manuals

Several user manuals are available which describe in detail the telescope control, data acquisition and data reduction programs that are implemented in Green Bank.

F. Observer Assistance (‘Friends’)

Each observing program will be assigned a “friend” from among the staff scientists. You will be notified of who your friend is prior to your observing run by the Head of GBT Science Operations. The friend will serve as your contact person both before, during, and after your run for all scientific and technical issues. Additionally the GBT has an on-duty support scientist available 24 hours a day.  Through arrangement with your project friends, the on-duty support scientist can generally be available at the start of your run to assist in initial setup, and can be available as required during the course of the run. The friend (or in her absence the Head of GBT Science Operations) will coordinate assistance from others on the technical or scientific staff whose assistance or expertise may be needed.

A. Acknowledgment

Whenever research using one of the instruments or date from one of the instruments at the Green Bank Observatory is published, we request that the author include a footnote in the paper:

The Green Bank Observatory is a facility of the National Science Foundation operated under cooperative agreement by Associated Universities, Inc.

B. Support for Page Charges

GBO policy for supporting page charges for GBT/GBO papers (pdf).

Form for requesting page charge support (pdf) (docx).

Print This