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A daily view of all the goings-on at ASTRON and JIVE.

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    © ASTRON

    Voyager 1 has travelled faster and further than any other spacecraft, currently cruising at 17 km/sec in the direction of the constellation of Ophiuchus. Expected to leave the Solar System any time now, this venerable space probe hit the news again recently with the latest data suggesting it is surfing right on the very edge of the Sun's domain.

    Many of you will know that hitching a ride on both Voyager 1 and 2 is a Golden Record - a kind of time capsule that was placed on the side of the Spacecraft just before launch in 1977. The record includes sounds and images of the planet Earth, and representations of human civilisation such as music, a map of nearby Pulsars and greetings in 56 different languages. The idea of the record originated with the late, great Carl Sagan - just in case Voyager was found by another space-faring civilisation during its long sojourn through interstellar space. It could be a long wait - even at its current record speed, Voyager 1 will not make a pass by another star system for another 40000 years. It's expected that the signal from the Voyagers (powered by three large radioisotope thermoelectric generators) will be detectable until the end of this decade - it might make an interesting target for the SKA in the decade thereafter. The full set of images is available at (for example):

    What you may not know about this Golden Record, is that the Westerbork Synthesis Radio Telescope (WSRT) is one of only 116 images included on the record. The image above shows this photo (top right), along side the spacecraft itself and the record. Note that the Voyager record, really is a record - not an early CD - all the information on the disc is recorded in the audio frequency range, and the disc is designed to spin at only 16 2/3 RPM, requiring 12 seconds to play back the low-resolution images. In any case, it is nice to know that a little bit of ASTRON and the WSRT is on board the Voyager spacecraft, as they boldly go where no man has gone before...

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  • 08/07/13--17:00: LEAPing with 5 Telescopes
  • © LEAP collaboration

    LEAPing with 5 Telescopes

    On 27 July 2013, the Sardinia Radio Telescope joined in for its very first LEAP observation. It also meant the first LEAP observation in which all 5 telescopes participated.

    LEAP is the Large European Array for Pulsars, an ERC-funded project in which 5 powerful European radio telescopes are phased up to observe and time millisecond pulsars with Arecibo-like sensitivity. Its purpose is to detect and study the gravitational waves emitted from supermassive black hole binary mergers.

    The image shows the 5 telescopes as they participated in the LEAP-run: the Lovell Telescope (top left), Effelsberg (top right), the WSRT (middle left), the Sardinia Radio Telescope (middle right) and the Nançay Radio Telescope (bottom). Except for Nançay, all pictures were taken during the first 5-telescope LEAP observation.

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    © ASTRON

    Prof. dr. A.G. (Ger) de Bruyn (ASTRON, Dwingeloo & Kapteyn Institute, University of Groningen) has received an Advanced Grant of 3.35 million Euro from the European Research Council (ERC). Advanced Grants are extremely competitive and are awarded only to exceptional researchers.

    The grant has been awarded for studying the important question of the "Epoch of Reionization" (of the early Universe), using the LOFAR radio telescope. The latter is designed, built and operated by ASTRON, the Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy. With the grant money, Ger can appoint a group of seven scientists (PhD students, postdocs, and specialists in data analysis and software) for the next five years.

    The observations, and the subsequent data processing, are very challenging, since the signals are extremely weak, and are being drowned by noise from radio galaxies, our own Galaxy, the ionosphere, receiver electronics, and man-made interference. Therefore, a total of 0.9 million Euro of the ERC grant will be used to acquire an extra powerful computer cluster. This will be needed to carry out the vast number of computations to process the large data volume (more than 1000 terabyte) and to filter the feeble signals from the noise.

    Ger, together with colleagues Koopmans and Zaroubi of the Kapteyn Institute and Brentjens and Yatawatta from ASTRON, and supported by an international team of astronomers, students and postdocs, has been planning this LOFAR project for the past ten years. In the next five years, they intend to harvest.

    The pictures show Ger, who is a keen sportsman, skating around the "SuperTerp", the 300m heart of the (much larger) LOFAR telescope. Obviously, he approaches this with the same care and thoroughness as he studies the EoR.

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    © Michel Arts

    Over the last month, a new time registration system has been installed at ASTRON. As with many things one has to become familiar with it. Instead of sliding a metal key through a slit, one has to put a special kind of key hanger in front of the terminal. But how should you hold the key hanger to execute registration most efficiently? Maybe the first days you had to play a little bit with the key hanger until it was recognized by the terminal. It turned out that the position as shown on the photograph above is a good position. If you hold the key hanger this way, it is immediately recognized by the terminal. Can this be explained by physics? To explain this, you should first know how such a system works. Both the terminal and the key hanger contain a coil. The coil in the key hanger is connected to an integrated circuit. The coil in the terminal is fed by an rf-current (I don't know the frequency of this system but 125 kHz and 13.56 MHz are commonly used frequencies for these kind of systems). If you hold the key hanger in front of the terminal, the magnetic field produced by the coil of the terminal induces a voltage in the coil of the key hanger. This voltage feeds the integrated circuit and induces a current in the coil of the key hanger. The magnetic field due to this current, induces a voltage in the coil of the terminal. For the electronics of the terminal, the induced voltage is recognized as a change in the input impedance of the coil. The current in the coil of the key hanger is modulated by the integrated circuit. This modulation leads to a variation of the input impedance seen by the electronics of the terminal. Each individual key hanger produces a unique modulation pattern which in turn causes a unique variation of the input impedance of the coil in the terminal. This is how individual key hangers are distinguished.

    The approximate positions of the coils of both the key hanger and the terminal are depicted by the red lines in the photograph. The picture on top at the right shows the magnetic field lines of a coil carrying a current. One can see that the center of the coil has the largest flux density. This explains why you have to put the key hanger at the position as shown in the photograph. Also the maximum magnetic flux goes through the coil of the key hanger if the key hanger is in this position. From Faraday's law we know that the induced voltage is proportional with the magnetic flux going through the coil. This causes a stronger magnetic coupling between the two coils. Due to this stronger coupling the modulation by the integrated circuit in the key hanger causes larger variations of the input impedance of the magnetic coil of the terminal. This makes it easier for the electronics of the terminal to recognize the key hanger.

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    © Roy Smits & Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics

    Why are ASTRON and the WSRT located in a radio-quiet zone? Arie Visser from Holland Doc, a platform for documentaries on the Dutch public network, asked astronomer Roy Smits this question and in the process learned about the beautiful sounds of space.

    The image shows part of a sound-file of the heart-beat like pulsar B0329+54, recorded by the Lovell Telescope and displayed by audacity.

    The episode aired on Sunday 28 July on radio 1. It can still be heard here (in Dutch, starting after 45 minutes):

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    © ASTRON & SKA

    The SKA Board recently met at the SKA Organisation's HQ at Jodrell Bank. The image above shows the Directors of the SKA Organisation and senior SKA Office staff. The new SKA Science Director, Robert Braun (formerly of ASTRON) is one of the most recent new recruits.

    Top Row (l to r): Hans Olofsson (Director, Sweden), Elena Righi-Steele (Guest, European Commission), Beatrix Vierkotn-Rudolph (Director, Germany), LI Xin (Director, China), John Womersley (Chair of the SKA Board of Directors, UK), Phil Mwjara (Director, South Africa), ZHAO Jing (Director, China), Giampaolo Vettolani (Director, Italy), Jonathan Kings (Deputy Chair of the SKA Board of Directors, New Zealand), Peter Dewdney (Guest, SKA Organisation), Denis Mourard (Guest, CNRS/INSU, France).

    Middle Row (l to r): Ian Corbett (Guest, Consultant), Mohsine Chefki (Guest, Federal Ministry of Education and Research, Germany), Brian Boyle (Director, Australia), Ethan Schreier (Guest, Associated Universities Inc, USA), Phil Diamond (Director-General, SKA Organisation), Paul Alexander (Director, UK), David Luchetti (Director, Australia), Bernie Fanaroff (Director, South Africa), Rowena Sirey (Guest, European Southern Observatory).

    Front Row (l to r): Tim Cornwell (Guest, SKA Organisation), Yashwant Gupta (Observer, National Centre for Radio Astrophysics, India), John Conway (Director, Sweden), Mike Garrett (Director, Netherlands), Sean Dougherty (Director, Canada), Robert Braun (Guest, SKA Organisation), Luigina Feretti (Director, Italy), Colin Greenwood (Company Secretary, SKA Organisation), Patricia Vogel (Director, Netherlands).

    The Board meeting itself was very constructive with the board agreeing a 650M� cost-cap for SKA-1 - see for further details.

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    © Ralph Eatough / MPIfR

    How does the supermassive black hole candidate at the centre of the Milky Way like its lunch? Recent observations of a newly-discovered radio pulsar suggest that Sgr A* (the black hole at the Galactic Centre which is 4 million times more massive than the Sun) likes its gas nicely magnetised.

    This dietary analysis was possible by the discovery and follow up of PSR J1745-2900, a magnetar (ultra-magnetic neutron star formed in a supernova explosion) in the Galactic Centre region. First seen in the x-ray by the Swift and NuSTAR space telescopes, it was quickly also detected in the radio by the Effelsberg telescope, and subsequently by many others. The magnetar is separated from Sgr A* by less than half a light year in projection, which in Galactic terms is virtually on the black hole's doorstep, and multiple observational properties indicate that this is not a chance alignment. The image shows an artist's conception of PSR J1745-2900 and its surroundings, including Sgr A*. By itself this was already a thrilling discovery, since pulsar astronomers had been searching for pulsars in the Galactic Centre in vain for 40 years, and were starting to wonder whether the conditions near Sgr A* were so extreme that they might never be found. Pulsars can be used as precise cosmic clocks, and a pulsar near Sgr A* could be used to test Einstein's theory of General Relativity in a laboratory totally unlike anything available on the Earth or even elsewhere in the solar system.

    PSR J1745-2900 is unfortunately unsuitable for these tests - magnetars are comparatively poor cosmic clocks, and ~0.5 light years is just a little too far from Sgr A* for a very stringent test of GR. However, the discovery of PSR J1745-2900 indicates that observable pulsars do exist in the Galactic Centre, boosting hopes of discovering a more suitable candidate. Meanwhile, PSR J1745-2900 can still be used to study the Galactic Centre environment. It emits polarised radiation, and the plane of the polarisation is rotated by the Faraday effect as it travels towards us. The magnitude of the rotation is dependent on the magnetic field along the line of sight, and so observations of PSR J1745-2900 can give the strength of the magnetic field pervading the gas destined to become Sgr A*'s next snack. As reported by Eatough et al. in Nature this week, the inferred magnetic field is quite strong - by the time the gas reaches the event horizon of the black hole, the magnetic field would be hundreds of times stronger than that of the Earth, strong enough to explain the observed synchrotron emission of Sgr A*.

    For more information, see that following:

    Pulblished Nature letter:

    ASTRON press release:

    MPIfR press release:

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    © Astro-Jeunes

    This year, ASTRON was a partner of the XXIII Fleurance astronomy festival in Gers (France), which also includes the VIII young Fleurance astronomy festival, Astro-Jeunes. Thanks to the efforts of the Radio Observatory it was possible to make a "live" observation with LOFAR.

    During the week at the young festival, children of about 10 years old (helped by electronic engineers from IRAP, Astronomy laboratory in Toulouse) built a box that was then attached to a stratospheric balloon. It contained instruments to measure pressure, temperature and radiation as a function of altitude. We also installed a GoPro camera on the box, which sent down this image of the Earth from an altitude of 34 km, just before the balloon burst. As you see, the Earth is not flat.

    In addition, during the week, we contacted the International Space Station (ISS) by radio, thanks to a collaboration between ESA and ARISS. Children were allowed to ask questions of French astronaut Luca Parmitano, who is currently aboard the ISS.

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    NOVA-ASTRON is currently building the Cold Optical Bench for MATISSE, the mid-infrared interferometric spectrograph and imager for ESO's VLT interferometer (VLTI, Paranal, Chile). This instrument can combine the light from all 4 eight-meter VLT telescopes.

    By coherently adding the light of these telescopes, MATISSE is capable of imaging at a spatial resolution of ~6 milli-arcsec in the 2.8-5 and 8-12 micrometer wavelength range. This allows the study of wavelength-dependent characteristics of gas and dust grains, which tell us about the formation and evolution of planetary systems, Active Galactic Nuclei and the high-contrast environment of evolved stars.

    This weekend we had 'first light' with an important part of Matisse, i.e. the central part of the so called Beam-Shaper Box. In this unit, the light of four VLT-telescopes is combined interferometrically, and imaged onto the detector. Two cylindrical parabolic mirrors play an important role in this. They add an extra factor of six in anamorphism to the already anamorphic beams, bringing it to a total of 24. This can be seen as the four parallel red lines in one of the frames that are displayed in this sequence.

    The extremely accurate mechanical structure (which vaguely resembles a racing car engine) is made out of a single solid block of aluminum. NOVA-ASTRON and VDL were also responsible for the anamorphic mirrors. In the coming period, much more optics will be mounted in this and other parts of the instrument. After having finished the sub-assemblies, all parts will be joined and integrated together.

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  • 08/18/13--17:00: Shelling a galaxy
  • © HALOGAS collaboration

    The picture shows an optical image of the galaxy NGC 4414. Recently this galaxy was observed with the Westerbork telescope (as part of the HALOGAS survey) to obtain the ultra-deep maps of the neutral hydrogen. In parallel we have also been obtaining deep optical images of the HALOGAS galaxies. NGC 4414 threw up some surprises! The black and white picture shows (in negative) the high-contrast, deep image. Superimposed in colour is the "normal contrast" picture from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. We can immediately see that the stellar disk of NGC 4414 is much more extended than the colour image suggests. Also, surrounding the galaxy we see a "shell", a sharply-defined arc of starlight. Computer simulations have shown that such shells can form when a small dwarf galaxy gets disrupted by a larger galaxy. The shell is just a part of the remnant of the dwarf galaxy. The neutral hydrogen observations are currently being analysed, and will be shown in a future AJDI... (Deep image obtained by Maria Patterson from the HALOGAS collaboration at Kitt Peak Observatory, USA).

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    © Arno Schoenmakers, Jurjen Sluman, the Muppets

    This quaint little balcony is a flourish of our lovely new building. While it is not particularly well-placed for the things one usually associates with balconies (like sun-bathing, serenades, harangues, suicides etc), it might serve as a liberating perch for constructive comments. Therefore, we invite all members of the extended ASTROJIVE family to think of witty captions for this picture. The winners(*) will be published in a future AJDI. They will also receive fabulous prizes, and a guided tour.

    (*) Please submit your witticisms to before Sept 1st. Remember that humour is a tricky business.

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  • 08/21/13--17:00: Vivaldi at SKA Karoo site
  • © Pieter Benthem

    The picture above shows that Mid Frequency Aperture Array technology has reached the SKA Karoo site, in South Africa. During a recent visit, an ASTRON crew tested ground anchors and measured the RFI spectrum. The anchors held their ground, so we can now start shipping our environmental prototypes, which are described in the daily image of 17-06-2013

    Besides testing several types of ground anchors, we also constructed a long-term anchor test setup at the site of the PAPER radio telescope. Parts of this telescope can be seen on the left, where its array is being doubled in size (to 128 antennas). In the background, the KAT7 dishes are basking in the sun. And, coincidentally, taking data for our own George Heald.

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    © ApJ

    Einstein@Home aggregates the computer power of hundreds of thousands of volunteers from 193 countries, to search for new neutron stars using data from electromagnetic and gravitational-wave detectors. A paper led by Bruce Allen (MPI Gravitationsphysik) and including ASTRON astronomers Jason Hessels, George Heald and Joeri van Leeuwen that appears in the August volume of ApJ, presents a detailed description of the search for new radio pulsars using Pulsar ALFA survey data from the Arecibo Observatory. The enormous computing power allows this search to cover a new region of parameter space; it can detect pulsars in binary systems with orbital periods as short as 11 minutes. The paper describes the first Einstein@Home discovery, the 40.8 Hz isolated pulsar PSR J2007+2722.

    The left-hand subpanel shows the visualization of the discovery space. The detection significance S is plotted as a function of the dispersion-measure trial number and the pulsar spin frequency. The pulsar is clearly detected at a DM of 127 pc/cc and a period of 24.4 milliseconds. PSR J2007+2722 pulse profile is remarkably wide with emission over almost the entire spin period.

    The fine localization of J2007+2722 was provided by Westerbork. In the right sub-panel, the blue error circle was obtained by Arecibo gridding. In red is shown the WSRT/PuMaII error region obtained by overlapping fan beams, and looking for the dedispersed, folded pulsar period signal in each. In ten 1180s observations the position could thus quickly be much refined. We believe this is the first time that WSRT has been used for pulsar position refinement in this way. Simultaneously with pulsar data, WSRT imaging data were also acquired. This data is shown in the gray scale. As only a single radio source is visible on the southern side of the error ellipse, we conclude this too is the pulsar. The source corresponds to a cataloged NVSS source and from the long-term timing position we find it is indeed PSR J2007+2722.

    This neutron star is most likely a disrupted recycled pulsar, about as old as its characteristic spin-down age of 404 Myr.

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  • 08/28/13--17:00: Wadlopen 2013
  • © Summer students 2013 / Mike Garrett / Carmen Toribio

    The annual ASTRON / JIVE summer student Wadlopen extravaganza!

    This time the ASTRON director himself joined the intrepid radio astronomers unable to resist the allure of trampling through almost 10 km of mud, sand and chest high sea water on the epic trek to the island of Ameland, just off the north coast of the Netherlands.

    The day was a memorable experience for all, enhanced both by the spectacular scenery, exotic wildlife and grand company of a fine group of people.

    Good luck to the daring Wadlopers of 2014.

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    © Minju Lee, John McKean, Adam Deller, Javier Molden

    A new pilot project called "'Hunting for radio-loud gravitational lenses' was the one of the summer student projects this year, and as you would expect from the title, is aimed at finding new radio-loud gravitational lens systems. There are only ~35 radio-loud lens systems known so far, and we hoped to find a few more.

    By using data from mJIVE-20, the largest VLBA snapshot survey at 1.4 GHz that is still ongoing, we (Summer student : Minju Lee/ Supervisors : John McKean, Adam Deller, Javier Molden) were able to blindly rediscover 2 already known lens systems, and found 12 new candidate systems out of 17700 sources targeted by mJIVE-20. The candidates are to be followed up with multifrequency observations at 4.1 and 7.1 GHz, as well as with deeper 1.4 GHz observations, to compare the spectral indices and to see if there are other fainter counter images around the detected images.

    The image shows one of the deeper observations of MJV06997 at 1.4 GHz, which is one of our strongest candidates, but is not yet confirmed. During the summer student project, we had a VLBA DDT proposal approved to carryout multifrequency observations at 4.1 and 7.1 GHz for this target and two others, we are now waiting for them to be observed. We think we are quite close to finding a new lens system, and expect find our new daily image of this one in the near future!

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    © Gabriele Surcis, Maria Grazia Blasi

    The picture shows the results obtained during my summer project at the JIVE Institute, that is the study of the 6.7-GHz methanol maser in the high-mass star-forming region G213.70-12.6 (also known as Monoceros R2 and IRAS06053-0622).

    The investigation of the polarized emission of methanol masers in this region allowed us to determine the orientation and the strength of the magnetic field in order to improve our understanding of the role played by the magnetic field during the massive star formation.

    The main image shows the distribution of the twenty 6.7-GHz methanol maser features that we detected around G213.70-12.6, which is located at about 830 pc from us. The triangles symbols are the identified maser features scaled logarithmically according to their peak flux. A 5 Jy/beam symbol is plotted for illustration.

    The dashed line is the best linear fit of the maser features. The black segments indicate the linear polarization vectors (scaled logarithmically according to the polarization fraction) for the six masers for which we were able to detect linearly polarized emission. The study of the linear polarization is useful for determining the magnetic field orientation, which in this case is perpendicular to the linear polarization vectors (see right bottom corner).

    The three images on the bottom show the results obtained for the brightest methanol maser feature (peak flux ~ 91 Jy/beam).

    On the most left image we show on the top panel a comparison between the total (black line) and linearly polarized (red line, multiplied by a factor of 3) spectra, while on the bottom panel we show the linear polarization percentage (full line) and the linear polarization angle (dashed line) across the maser emission.

    On the middle image we show the result of the full radiative transfer Chi-squared model fit (also known as Full Radiative Transfer Method code, FRTM). The fit yields the emerging brightness temperature and the intrinsic thermal linewidth of the maser. Contours indicate the significance intervals 0.25, 0.5, 1, 2, 3, and 7, with the thick solid contours indicating 1 sigma and 3 sigma areas.

    On the right image we show how the model of the methanol maser emission (red line), which was determined by using the best values obtained from the FRTM code, fits the total (I) and the circularly polarized (V) emission of the maser. From this last fit we estimated a Zeeman-splitting of (-7 +/- 1) m/s which indicate a magnetic field on the plane of the sky in the range between 140 mG and 1.4 G depending on the Zeeman-splitting coefficient which is still uncertain for the 6.7-GHz methanol maser emission.

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  • 08/25/13--17:00: LOFAR Stone Art
  • © bennema

    The core of the (much larger) LOFAR radio telescope is located on the slopes of the Hondsrug, a unique geological landscape that will (hopefully) be acknowledged by the UNESCO as an official Geopark at the end of this year. The LOFAR "superterp" is one of the identitying features of the Geopark Hondsrug.

    Harry Wolters of the Hunebed Centrum (Borger), an expert on the geological history of the Hondsrug, and Peter Bennema (ASTRON) were invited to open a Stone Art project consisting of rows of "Vlints"� (stones in the Drenths language) which camping guests have artfully arranged during their stay at the Camping Exloo, 3 km from the LOFAR Core. Before the official opening, short lectures were given on the LOFAR project, and on the geological formation of the Hondsrug.

    The Stone Art project was inspired by two crucial links with its location. One is the Hondsrug itself, the 70 km long sand ridge in the east of Drenthe, which runs from Emmen to Groningen city. It was formed during the last ice age(s). Scientific studies have established that the stones were carried by the ice from the area where Helsinki is now located. Stones found more to the west, for example near Dwingeloo, originate from an area near present-day Stokholm.

    The other link is the LOFAR project. According to the camping guests, the stones represent the LOFAR antenna stations, the stars, the Milky Way and the Mysteries of the Universe(*). Although the result may raise some eyebrows in scientific circles, it is nice to see how entrepreneurs in the vicinity of the LOFAR Core are inspired by the LOFAR project in their backyard.

    (*) In other words, they represent Life, the Universe and Everything. Thus, they might offer a clue to the Question, even though there are more than 42 stones.

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  • 08/29/13--17:00: The end of Komkommer Time
  • © MCC

    Editor's note: This AJDI was prepared in the expectation that very few pictures would be submitted over the summer. To our surprise and delight, it was not needed (so far). However, since it seems a pity to waste it, we run it as a token of appreciation to those of the extended ASTROJIVE family that have kept it at bay with their efforts. We love you all.

    In the summer, when lots of people are away on holiday, and statesmen, bankers, scientists and terrorists are visiting their mothers, the supply of real news is at a low ebb. In desperation, the media fill their mediums with even more "gebabbel" than normally. The Dutch call this period "komkommer(*) time".

    Sadly, even the steady tinkle of ASTRON/JIVE Daily Images dries up to somewhat less than a trickle. Only Mike and his loyal Madroon stand shoulder-to-shoulder, submitting the occasional picture of themselves to ward off the void. In response to this intolerable situation, the komkommer will be on display whenever nothing else has been submitted. So there.

    Obviously, this should not be necessary. Even in the depth of summer, lots of fascinating things go on in the ASTRON and JIVE family (which is much larger than just Dwingeloo). Think of the aperture arrays being verified. Think of the modules (hard, soft or firm) being seamlessly cobbled together. Think of the glass and aluminum being cunningly shaped to catch rare photons with the largest telescopes between Heaven and Earth. Think of the harmonious system engineering for SKA and Apertif. Think of the coming together of entire continents by means of VLBI. Think of the lovely LOFAR data stream, flowing thickly in a caleidoscope of novelty modes. Think of our scientific entrepreneurs, spending their millions wisely. Think of the nurturing strategies being hatched and burnished in the new management wing. Think of the summer students, being grateful to be at ASTROJIVE.

    Submitting an AJDI is just a matter of leaning back for a moment, to reflect on what you are trying to accomplish, and why. If you can figure that out, you will naturally want to share your excitement with others, for instance by means of an insightful image and a few well-chosen words. You will find the entire process unexpectedly rewarding. And you help the rest of us through the summer as well.

    (*) Komkommer is the name of a rather tasteless watery vegetable, as shown in the picture. In some cultures it is served in the form of cucumber sandwiches, at the "long, dark Teatime of the Soul". For the benefit of conscientious students of Aunt Henny's Dutch lessons: the past tense of this noun is of course "kwamkwammer".

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  • 09/01/13--17:00: AstroFest 2013
  • © Astron

    One of the traditions at Astron/JIVE is the yearly AstroFest. At this fest, we celebrate all the wonderful astronomy being done in Dwingeloo. This year's AstroFest was held in the Drents Archief (State Archives) in the wonderful town of Assen. While at the first AstroFests, some years ago, every Dwingeloo astronomer would give a short presentation, our numbers have grown so much that this is not possible anymore. The selection format for this year's AstroFest was that all attendees prepared a presentation, but the speakers were selected real-time by drawing names from a magic hat. It was interesting to see the split between people being disappointed if their name did not come up and those who were relieved.

    As every year, the width and depth of Dwingeloo astronomy presented was impressive and, also helped by the nice setting, the meeting was enjoyed very much by all.

    The AstroFest was followed by drinks and nibbles at a local waterhole and, for some, with curries at the local Indian.

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    © ASTRON

    A few weeks ago, the UK LOFAR station at Chilbolton was renamed "The Rawlings Array" in honour of the late Prof. Steve Rawlings. Steve played an important role in securing the funding for the LOFAR station, together with a consortium of various partners led by Prof. Rob Fender.

    After speeches from Rob, Philip Best and Matt Jarvis, the dedication was formally closed with Linda Rawlings cutting a red ribbon that revealed the reflective dedication plate (see images above).

    Several Dutch astronomers were in attendance, including Rene Vermeulen, Huub Rottgering and Michael Garrett. The day ended with the group of about a dozen participants retiring to the nearby White Lion.

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