A lot of my job has to do with educating the general public about e-VLBI and radio astronomy.
(Skip this paragraph if you already know what those last two terms are. Theoretically if you connect a 32-meter dish in Italy to a 6-meter dish in Chile, you've just created a 12,360 kilometer wide telescope! With an instrument that large, you can get great resolution. That's the VLBI part. The e-VLBI part is using high-speed fiber optic networks to connect radio telescopes together. That way astronomers can receive the data in real-time and make any necessary adjustments during the observation period itself. These observations are often scheduled months in advance, so you lose an entire observation if you don't have everything just right.)
JIVE and ASTRON are having an Open Day in October, and part of my job is to put together posters and materials to educate the public about what we do here and get them interested in radio astronomy, computer networking and developing the software that combines all the data from the different telescopes.
So my questions to you are:
- What would YOU want to know about what we do here?
- If you have a child (or if you are a child), what does he or she (or you) want to know about what astronomers really do? Or network engineers? Or software developers?
- If you're a professional, were you interested in your profession as a child or as a student? And what got you interested in it?
Feel free to leave comments here at the site or email me privately (kyun at jive dot nl). I'd love to get your feedback! (Please also let me know whether or not you are actually interested in what we do here. That will help me gauge the level of interest I can expect from the general public!)
Many thanks in advance,