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LOFAR press Conference at the AAS in Austin

Submitter: Ger de Bruyn
Description: Last week saw one of the largest astronomy gatherings in the world, the winter meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Austin, Texas. The estimated attendance was close to 3000 astronomers. As at the AAS meeting in Seattle in January 2011, ASTRON was again present with a booth to display and talk about its technical achievements.

However, this time ASTRON's Michael Wise also organized a special session devoted to first science with LOFAR. The day before the Special Session there was a Press Conference, and associated Press Release. In the picture you can see the LOFAR team sitting behind the table in anxious anticipation of the difficult questions that would shortly be thrown at them. From left to right: Heino Falcke, Ger de Bruyn, Jason Hessels, George Heald, Michael Wise and (standing) Chiara Ferrari. Following a brief introduction by the chairman of the board of the International Lofar Telescope (ILT), four 7-minute presentations were given on the status of LOFAR and the first call for proposals, the Multi-frequency Snapshot Sky Survey, the first results on Pulsars and the progress made in the search for signals from the Epoch of Reionization (EoR). Here is a link to the Press Conference, the presentations and the Q&A session http://files.aas.org/aas219/2012Jan09_1430CST_LOFAR.mov .

Before and after the Press Conference, attended by some 20+ science journalists, the team engaged in various interviews with radio commentators and reporters. It turned out that the questions were not so hard to answer except for how many dipoles there are in LOFAR !. But since that number keeps steadily increasing we were all somewhat excused for not knowing.

Following the Press Release, reports soon appeared in Dutch national and local newspapers, as well as in Nature http://www.nature.com/news/radio-array-starts-work-1.9762 and in Science http://news.sciencemag.org/sciencenow/2012/01/scienceshot-new-telesope-captures.html?ref=hp .

What happened at the booth and the special session will be reported in future editions of this popular medium.

Copyright: Ger de Bruyn
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