Musings of an autodidact

More Golden Age glee A golden age of astronomy (2013)

Ray Norris: So a young person going into astronomy now, they’ve got this fantastic vista in front of them with all of these new telescopes, they know the field is ripe with opportunity, so the right person can get in there and really make a magnificent contribution.


Alberto Conti: If you want to take a look at what happened over the last 25, 30 years basically, and I say this often because it’s quite marvellous if you live in the field to witness all of this, is the fact that we’ve been very, very good at building larger and larger telescopes. So we’re going to build telescopes that are probably 30 times larger than we were able to just 25, 30 years ago.

But at the same time…so with the collecting power of a telescope we’ve also increased basically our ability to retrofit, if you will, all these large mirrors with the detectors that are not 30 times larger or better, they are 3,000 times better.


And the telescope we’re building in Western Australia at the moment, the Australian SK Pathfinder, we have actually gone the next step in that instead of having a single receiver at the centre, like Parkes and Jodrell Bank and places like that, we are now putting arrays of receivers…we have something like 200 receivers at the centre of each telescope. This is a bit like the CCD arrays that we find in digital cameras now and that you now find at the back end of every optical telescope, we’re now starting to do that with radio telescopes. And what that means is that the volume of data we’re producing goes up 100-fold, and potentially the volume of discovery goes up 100-fold. So you can see why it gets very exciting when we start doing this sort of thing.

This is the sound of genuine excitement.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s