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Signals from the Universe

Program dates: June 17-20, 2018

Program cost: $510

Includes lodging, all meals and any field trips. Students arrive on campus Sunday, June 17, and depart Wednesday, June 20.

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Course description

Students will learn the basics of radioastronomy, a vibrant and expanding area of astronomy that looks for natural radio emission from space, even forming radio images of objects in the sky. This will be focused toward building a specialized receiver and antenna, which together form a simple radio telescope that will be used to “listen” to the sun. Students will gain skills in circuit design, signal processing, and an understanding of how electromagnetic waves work.

Students will also visit the nearby VLBA telescope in North Liberty, Iowa — an element of a globe-spanning array of radio sensors that forms an Earth-sized telescope for observing the universe.

Tentative schedule

Sunday, June 17

  • Check-in
  • Welcome reception

Monday, June 18

  • 9 a.m. — Welcome in Olin 120, Dr. Peterson introduction
  • 9:30 a.m. — Electromagnetic Waves and Radio
  • 10:45 a.m. — Break
  • Noon — lunch with faculty and research students
  • 1 p.m. — Tour of Hanson Hall of Science with summer research students
  • 1:30 p.m. — Antenna design basics
  • 3 p.m. — Break
  • 3:15 p.m. — Antenna design and experimentation
  • 5 p.m. — Dinner
  • 9 p.m. — Planetarium and Observatory tour and night sky observing

Tuesday, June 19

  • 9 a.m. — Circuit Design
  • 10:30 a.m. — Break
  • 10:45 a.m. — Intro to Radio Astronomy
  • Noon — lunch with faculty and research students
  • 1 p.m. — Circuit building and testing
  • 3 p.m. — Break
  • 3:30 p.m. — Receiver demonstration and testing
  • 4:30 p.m. — Reflection and discussion
  • 5 p.m. — Dinner
  • 7 p.m. — Evening activities, rain date night sky observing

Wednesday, June 20

  • 9 a.m. — Meet for travel to North Liberty
  • 10:15 a.m. — Tour of VLBA Telescope
  • Noon — lunch with faculty and research students
  • 1 p.m. — Discussion of Astronomy and Engineering
  • 1:30 p.m. — Return to Augustana
  • 2:45 p.m. — First light radio observations of the Sun
  • 4 p.m. — Reflection and Discussion
  • 4:30 p.m. — Cryogenics (liquid nitrogen ice cream)
  • 5 p.m. — Closing session and meet with families
  • 5:30 p.m. — Depart from Augustana

Instructor: Dr. William Peterson

william peterson
Dr. William Peterson

Dr. William Peterson earned a Ph.D. in physics from the University of Iowa and is an assistant professor at Augustana College. He teaches astronomy, acoustics, and introductory physics courses. He pursues research in astronomy and space physics, using internationally-based telescopes. He is also the lab coordinator for the physics department.