University of Dayton Chautauqua Course


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Chautauqua Course DAY-6


Exploring the Frontiers of 21th-Century Astrophysics with the VLA and VLBA


DAVID G.  FINLEY and STAFF, National Radio Astronomy Observatory


July 9-11, 2014 in and near Socorro, NM                                                                 Apply: DAY


Note:     This course is cosponsored by and offered at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Socorro, New Mexico.  Applications should be sent to the DAY Field Center.  This course has course fee of $195 (in addition to the $100 application fee), which covers course-related expenses.  Limited on-site lodging will be available to early applicants.  This course, along with the course DAY-27 Radio Astronomy Update 2013: Pulsars and Gravitational Radiation, Dark Matter and Galaxy Evolution in June in Green Bank WV, form a two‑session pair.  Applications from individuals applying for both and received by the end of February will receive priority consideration.  Single course applications are also welcome for both.


The National Radio Astronomy Observatory's Very Large Array (VLA) radio telescope, dedicated in 1980, has been on the cutting edge of modern astronomy for more than three decades, making landmark contributions to our understanding of the Universe. Now, with a massive modernization program nearing completion, this iconic scientific tool is poised to once again provide researchers with new, exciting, and unparalled capabilities for fundamental discovery in specialties as diverse as planetary science and cosmology. The continent-spanning Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA), offering the greatest resolving power of any telescope on Earth or in space, also is headquartered in Socorro, NM. The VLBA, with capabilities upgraded since its dedication in 1992, has revised the map of our Milky Way Galaxy, recalibrated the distance scale of the Universe, and contributed to studies of Earth's plate-tectonic motions, among many other accomplishments.


This course will feature in-depth examinations of the workings of these unique and powerful telescope systems, along with updates from leading researchers on the current scientific programs and future promise of these instruments. Research topics may include planetary science, stellar formation and evolution, galactic structure and evolution, cosmology, and the early Universe. The expanded VLA (EVLA) and VLBA are expected to make major contributions to resolving the key questions of 21st-Century astrophysics, including the formation of the first stars and galaxies, the process of star and planet formation, and the now-unknown nature of dark matter and dark energy, which together account for 95 percent of the mass-energy budget of the Universe. Astronomers around the world are preparing to to use the EVLA and VLBA to tackle these fundamental and important challenges. Staff scientists will present the latest results and prospects of research in these areas, providing a guidebook to tomorrow's headlines. The specific topics presented will depend on availability of speakers at the time of the course. Registrants will be advised as the schedule is finalized.


The course will be held at the NRAO Array Operations Center in Socorro, NM. In addition to lectures by research astronomers on areas of current and future research, the powerful imaging techniques of radio interferometry will be described. Participants will tour control rooms and central computer processing facilities at the Operations Center. On the second day of the course, participants will take an in-depth tour of the VLA. Staff members in Socorro also are supporting development and construction of the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), an international millimeter-wavelength interferometer under construction in Chile's high Atacama Desert..


For college teachers of:  all disciplines.  Prerequisites: none.



Costs for 2014

Application fee: $100

Course fee: $195 [Due in March 2014]

Optional on-site lodging: around $25 per person per night in a single



David G. Finley is Public Information Officer for the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Socorro, NM.  A former science editor and writer for The Miami Herald, he taught astronomy and geology at Florida International University in Miami.  Author of one book and co-editor of another, his articles on astronomy and other topics have appeared in numerous publications, including Astronomy and Air & Space.  He has lectured extensively at observatories, museums, universities, national parks, aboard cruise ships and to clubs and organizations.  The staff includes other scientists, electronics engineers and programmers.



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University of Dayton Chautauqua Course