History of ASTRON

History of ASTRON

Here you find a graphical representation of the highlights in ASTRON's rich and exciting history.

  • James Clerk Maxwell

    Theory of electro-magnetism

    James Clerk Maxwell (Edinburgh, June 13, 1831 - Cambridge, November 5, 1879) establishes the theory of electro-magnetism.

  • Heinrich Hertz

    First man-made radio waves

    Heinrich Hertz (Hamburg, February 22, 1857 - Bonn, January 1, 1894) confirms Maxwell's theory with the generation and reception of the first man-made radio waves.

  • Guglielmo Marconi

    First radio transmissions across the Atlantic Ocean

    Guglielmo Marconi (Bologna, April 25, 1874 - Rome, July 20, 1937) makes the first radio transmissions across the Atlantic Ocean - the modern age of wireless radio communications begins.

  • Karl Jansky

    Karl Jansky

    Karl Jansky (Norman (Oklahoma), October 22, 1905 - Red Bank (New Jersey), February 14, 1950) discovers the first natural cosmic radio emission from the centre of our own Galaxy, the Milky Way.

  • Grote Reber and the first large parabolic antenna.

    The birth of high-energy astrophysics

    Grote Reber (Chicago, December 22, 1911 - Tasmania, December 20, 2002) begins construction of the first large parabolic antenna, later publishing the first systematic radio surveys of the sky.

  • Henk van de Hulst

    Neutral hydrogen and the 21 cm wavelength

    News of Reber's work reaches Prof. Jan Hendrik Oort in Leiden.

  • Prof. Jan Oort

    SRZM officially founded

    On 23 April 1949, the forerunner of ASTRON, SRZM (Stichting Radiostraling van Zon en Melkweg / Netherlands Foundation for Radio Astronomy) was officially founded with Prof.

  • Lex Muller

    Mapping out the Milky Way

    A young engineer, Lex Muller builds a radio receiver sensitive to radio waves at 21 cm.

  • Opening DRT by HM Queen Juliana

    Opening DRT by HM Queen Juliana

    The 25-metre Dwingeloo Telescope (then the largest steerable radio telescope in the world) is opened by Queen Juliana.

  • HM Juliana opens the WSRT

    Opening WSRT by HM Queen Juliana

    The WSRT (Westerbork Synthesis Radio Telescope) is opened by HM Queen Juliana.

  • WSRT telescopes

    Increasing spatial resolution

    The WSRT is being expanded to include two new telescopes, increasing the baseline length to 3 km. This doubles the spatial resolution of the telescope.

  • DSL results

    Dark matter in galaxies

    The Digital Spectral-Line (DSL) multi-channel correlator is installed, and the first HI line maps are produced of external galaxies.

  • Logo VLBI

    The European VLBI Network (EVN)

    The European VLBI Network (EVN) is established with ASTRON as one of its founding members.

  • Design and construction of instruments for optical telescopes

    Instruments for optical and mm-telescopes

    The UK-NL research collaboration is signed, leading to ASTRON playing a leading role in the design and construction of instruments for optical telescopes and the new sub-mm James Clerk Maxwell Tele

  • SKA

    Square Kilometre Array (SKA)

    ASTRON is at the forefront of conceiving the original concept of the Square Kilometre Array - this will later emerge as one of the most ambitious global mega-science projects of the 21st century.

  • JIVE


    The Joint Institute for VLBI in Europe is established, hosted by ASTRON. The EVN Correlator is formally opened in 1998.

  • Major new R&D line

    Impacting the next generation of radio telescopes

    ASTRON embarks on a major new R&D line, developing Aperture Arrays for Radio Astronomy.

  • Multi-Frequency Front Ends (MFFEs)

    Multi-Frequency Front Ends (MFFEs)

    A major upgrade of the WSRT is completed. This includes the deployment of the new Multi-Frequency Front Ends (MFFEs). These provide broad-band frequency flexibility from 1 tot 8.4 GHz.

  • ASTRON's first Phased Array Feed prototype, FARADAY


    ASTRON's first Phased Array Feed prototype, FARADAY is deployed and tested on the WSRT.

  • ASTRON logo

    The Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy

    ASTRON becomes the Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy - returning to its original mission: "Making Discoveries in Radio Astronomy Happen!"

  • WSRT telescope with APERTIF PAFs

    APERTIF Phased Array Feeds

    A new upgrade of the WSRT commences with the installation of the first APERTIF PAFs (Phased Array Feeds).

  • State Secretary Drs. Sander Dekker.

    Opening new building ASTRON

    Opening of ASTRON's new building by State Secretary, Drs. Sander Dekker.

  • SKA Australia

    Construction SKA telescope

    The SKA telescope is under construction.