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WSRT time around the clock

Submitter: Gyula I.G. Jozsa, Rene Vermeulen
Description: Every semester, astronomers around the world are invited to apply for observing time at the Westerbork Synthesis Radio Telescope (WSRT). The proposals are judged by an international Programme Committee, consisting of experienced astronomers, and the best projects are selected. The telescope is in high demand, and usually only about half of the proposals can be given some observing time.

For the most recent proposal deadline (15 September) the Programme Committee had to make difficult choices between very attractive and sometimes very ambitious proposals. The WSRT continues to excel in surveys of the content and properties of atomic hydrogen (HI) in galaxies, and also in studies of pulsars.

The total of the requests exceeded the total available observing capacity by an "oversubscription factor" of 1.8. The top diagram shows that the requests concentrated on objects located in certain areas of the sky. Each object on the sky is observable with the WSRT for at most twelve hours each day, centred around a specific Local Siderial Time. In the region of the local supercluster, where most galaxies are situated, the requests for WSRT observations peaked a factor of 3 above the available time. Only the very best proposals received time to observe there.

There are also a few regions where some telescope time for the new semester remains available. This is shown in the bottom panel. Most of those will be observed in the spring of 2009 during the day, and most will be in stretches significantly shorter than full 12-hour imaging runs. Surely, however, clever astronomers will think of excellent ways to use this time. A supplementary call for proposals has been issued, so that, again, the best ideas may win.
Copyright: image produced by ASTRON
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