The small radio telescope (SRT) is an undergraduate teaching telescope in Angell Hall. It was developed at the Haystack Observatory and commissioned in 2001. It is capable of continuum and spectral line observations in the L-band (1.42 GHz). The SRT is a standard 7-foot (2.1-meter) diameter satellite television dish mounted on top of a fully motorized Az-El mount. This unique mounting arrangement allows the observer to perform total power measurements and contour mapping. Software has been provided for controlling the antenna and selection of sources. Data reduction can be performed using existing radio astronomy software packages or done as a student exercise.
The diameter of the SRT results in a beam width of roughly 5 degrees. The receiver is sufficiently good to detect several strong sources. For example, it is capable of measuring the Galactic hydrogen emission, even on a single scan, and has derived galactic rotation curves based on 5-minute integrations at 10 points along the galactic plane. The frequency resolution of the line receiver is 40 KHz (=> 8 Km/sec).
The control computer is located in the NW corner of the computer room under the observatory, and can be identified by the small metal box (the control interface) behind computer. It is also usually the only Windows machine in the room. The switch on this box must be turned on before one activates the telescope control program. Access to the control program and interface are obtained by logging into the 'local' machine (not LSA). As long as the computer and control box are turned on, it can be accessed remotely. The user name and password can be obtained by contacting Hugh Aller or Phillip Hughes.
Start up Instructions
There are two shortcuts on the desktop. SRT is the shortcut to control the telescope, and SRT simulate opens the simulator.
You can set up an observing run, then disconnect to have it execute and reconnect latter to retrieve the data. When you are finished with the telescope, exit the control program and log off the computer.
The Haystack site has extensive information about the telescope, operating instructions, a tutorial on Radio Astronomy and example labs (such as the galactic rotation lab we tried in Astronomy 361).
Here are some relevant URLs:
- SRT Home: http://www.haystack.mit.edu/index.html
- Operations Manual:http://www.haystack.mit.edu/edu/undergrad/srt/SRT Software/SRTManual.pdf
- John Simonetti's manual (a good guide, but specifics to the operation of his telescope may not apply to ours! www.phys.vt.edu/~jhs/phys3154/srtguide.pdf
Aside from preparing observing scripts (which are some what unforgiving to format errors), the operation of the telescope is quite easy and straight- forward.