by Dave Finley, NRAO

SOCORRO, N.M., June 15, 2004 -- The National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) and New Mexico Tech (NMT) are hosting more than 150 students this week at a summer school aimed at teaching astronomers how to use radio telescopes such as the Very Large Array (VLA) and the Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA). The students come from across the U.S. and from 12 foreign countries.

Held in Socorro every two years, the Synthesis Imaging Summer School teaches the intricacies of using multi-antenna radio telescopes to produce finely-detailed images of celestial objects. Participants in the school include undergraduates, graduate students and working astronomers. Instructors for the school include scientists from NRAO, New Mexico Tech, the Owens Valley Radio Observatory, and the University of Hawaii.

The summer school began June 15 and lasts through June 22.

"The purpose of this summer school is to prepare the next generation of astronomers to use our facilities to do the cutting-edge astronomical research of the future," said James Ulvestad, NRAO's director for New Mexico operations.

"The techniques we teach are applicable not only to our radio telescopes, but also to similar radio-telescope systems around the world and to future telescopes that still are on the drawing boards," Ulvestad added.

New Mexico Tech President Daniel H. Lopez welcomed the attendees and pointed out to them that NM Tech's Magdalena Ridge Observatory will apply some of the same techniques to visible-light astronomy.

The National Radio Astronomy Observatory is a facility of the National Science Foundation, operated under cooperative agreement by Associated Universities, Inc.