ASTRON, the Netherlands institute for Radio Astronomy, kicks off the restoration of the Dwingeloo Radio Telescope. The restoration of this monument, owned by ASTRON, is awarded to Multi Paint Steel Preservation BV from Stadskanaal. Holstein Restoration Architecture from Groningen will manage the project.

Published by the editorial team, 27 April 2012

The Dwingeloo Radio Telescope was, at the time of its opening in 1956 by Queen Juliana, the largest radio telescope in the world. Until the ‘90's of the last century, the telescope has served as a scientific instrument. Astronomers discovered the galaxies Dwingeloo I and II with the Dwingeloo Radio Telescope. In 1998, the 25-meter dish, was placed in the so-called storm position and since then, has no longer been used for scientific purposes. With the establishment of the CAMRAS foundation in 2007, the radio telescope has been given a new purpose for amateurs and education.

Because of the historic and (international) scientific significance, the Dwingeloo Radio Telescope has since 2009 been a protected monument. The steel structure has suffered during the long period of stagnation. Without restoration, the risk of the structure collapsing is too big and it would have to be taken down.

During the restoration, the large dish will be lifted and placed in special construction next to the tower. All steel parts will be sandblasted and repainted. If necessary, parts will be replaced. After this, the dish will again be put in place.

‘Lifting the dish is a spectacular event', says project leader Peter Bennema from ASTRON. ‘Even more exciting is when the dish is placed back after the refurbishment. Will everything still work?‘

The Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO), of which ASTRON is part, regards preservation of the telescope of great importance because of the significance of the instrument for Dutch astronomy. Thanks to this telescope, Dutch astronomy has acquired a leading position in the international scientific community. This position was reinforced by the construction of the Westerbork Synthesis Radio Telescope (WSRT) in 1970 and more recently by the LOFAR Radio Telescope.

The volunteers of the CAMRAS foundation, which manages the Dwingeloo telescope, wants to make the telescope a living monument. Radio amateurs and amateur astronomers will use the Dwingeloo Radio Telescope and promote it by organising public and educational activities, so that visitors and especially the youth can learn about the world of technology and astronomy.
This fits well with the policy of the province of Drenthe and the municipality of Westerveld. Andre van Es, chair of CAMRAS, says: ‘CAMRAS organizes several activities each year aimed at the general public, school children and scouts. During the restoration, we will explain tourists and passers by about the progress of the restoration and how fascinating it is to work with the telescope.'

The restoration of the Dwingeloo Radio Telescope is made possible by grants from the National Heritage Board of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, the province of Drenthe, the municipality of Westerveld and contributions of the VSB, SNS REAAL FUND, Rabobank Southwest Drenthe, ASTRON and the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO). The restoration is expected to be completed by mid-2013.

For more information please contact:

ASTRON:

Peter Bennema, project manager. Tel.: 06-21503215. E-mail: bennema@astron.nl.
Femke Boekhorst, PR & Communications. Tel. :0521-595 204 and 06-21234243. E-mail: boekhorst@astron.nl.

CAMRAS:

Andre van Es, Chairman. Tel.: 06-51433473. E-mail: bestuur@camras.nl.

A film about the construction of the Dwingeloo Radio Telescope is shown on https://www.astron.nl/about-astron/history-astron/history-astron.

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