People from all over the world travel to see it, the waiting list has hundreds of names on it and reservations are scheduled at least a year in advance.
This stellar structure is none other than the Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope (GBT)the largest fully steerable radio telescope on the planet.
The telescope surface is 100 by 110 meters, it weighs in at 7,300 metric tons (16 million pounds) and boasts a 2.3 acre collecting area.
The GBT , located about three hours outside of Morgantown in Pocahontas County, will soon be the highlight of a discussion at West Virginia University . Felix J.JayLockman will give a lecture titledThe Green Bank Telescope: West Virginias Mountain Earon July 22 at 7:30 p.m. in room 260 of Hodges Hall.
Lockman, principal scientist at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) in Green Bank, will be discussing the telescope and its ground-breaking features.
The telescope, which took more than 10 years to construct, works at radio wavelengths. The GBT dish, according to the NRAO , provides better system noise, image quality and reduced susceptibility to interference. Its surface panels can even maintain the reflectors shape with an accuracy of more than 300 millionths of a meter.
The telescopes unblocked aperture and active surface is what makes it so unique.
It is unique, powerful and important. There is nothing like it anywhere else in the world,Lockman said.
That is precisely why people the world over come to use it. On July 4, researchers from the University of Iowa, University of Maryland, University of British Columbia, University of California Berkeley and even an observer from Paris, France were scheduled to use the GBT .
Thats just one day,Lockman said.Weve had people come from Australia, Germany, Quebec and New Mexico all in one afternoon. Its a unique treasure.
Uses for the GBT vary, but Lockman will discuss the recent discoveries made with the telescope. Formation of new molecules, gas clouds crashing into the Milky Way and galaxies being formed in the early days of the universe will be covered in his talk.
This lecture is one of a series of public lectures celebrating the International Year of Astronomy at WVU .Visit http://iya.wvu.edu/ for more information.