| At the recent opening of the new and refurbished buildings at ASTRON, the State Secretary of OCW, Drs. Sander Dekker unveiled a historical timeline of ASTRON. The timeline depicts some of the main events that have occurred with an emphasis on new developments rather than organisation changes. Of course, as well as commenting on the events presented in the timeline, we can also argue about what is missing - space limitations meant that several key events did not make it into the final cut.
The timeline begins with 3 important contributions that were essential for the development of radio science and techniques. The first was the publication by James Clerk Maxwell of his theory of electro-magnetism almost exactly 150 years ago. 20 years later, Heinrich Hertz became the first person to generate man-made radio waves, confirming Maxwell's theory. Some ten years after that, Guglielmo Marconi began to use radio waves as a way of enabling long-distance communication. And 20 years after that, large-scale aircraft radar arrays were developed by Robert Watson-Watt changing the course of European history.
Today these fundamental developments underpin everything we do at ASTRON, and radio science itself pervades all of society - our mobile phones, our GPS systems, civilian and military radar, global satellite communications, wifi and the internet.
The timeline is of course incomplete - there is a bright future ahead for ASTRON and there is still quite some space on the wall to detail our continuing story of discovery in radio astronomy!
Many thanks to those that shared their images used in the timeline, incl. Tom Oosterloo, Joeri van Leeuwen, Michiel van Haarlem, Huib van Langevelde, Richard Porcas. Also many thanks to the many people who helped in retrieving images from the archive etc.