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Introduction to the Jodrell Bank Internet Observatory (JBiO)

The Jodrell Bank Internet Observatory (JBiO) is a web interface to Jodrell Bank Observatory's 7-m radio telescope. The telescope can be used by registered users to observe celestial objects in real-time over the Internet. The telescope is fitted with a 21cm spectral line receiver with which it detects the emission from neutral hydrogen (HI) gas in the cosmos. This radio emission can be used to study the structure of the Milky Way galaxy or the dynamics of other distant galaxies.

The Physics with Astrophysics degree course at the University of Manchester is designed for students whose first wish is to obtain a solid grounding in physics but who are also fascinated by astronomy and want to pursue this interest at university level. Physics with Astrophysics students usually perform at least two sets of observations at Jodrell Bank itself, making use of the Jodrell Bank Internet Observatory (JBiO).

To operate the telescope remotely, registered users first Login to the web server and setup observations using simple on-line web forms. These are then submitted to the telescope Schedule where they are queued for observation. Prior to execution, users may delete or confirm observations submitted to the queue. At the appropriate time, the telescope performs the requested observations and writes the resulting data to an online archive. Users can then perform simple online analyses of the 21cm radio spectra, such as measuring power received or calculating the velocity of the emitting material.

When the internet observing software is running the telescope sends information about its current status to the web server and this can be displayed using the Monitor tool. The Webcam displays a live image of the 7-m telescope which updates every 30 seconds. Although not essential for performing observations, users find it interesting to see the telescope moving to their selected target. The SkyMap tool shows a live schematic of the sky above Jodrell Bank Observatory. This is looking up at the sky so North is at the top, South at the bottom, East at the left and West at the right. The concentric circles are of elevation above the horizon labelled every 15 degrees. The plane of the Milky Way (galactic latitude zero degrees) is shown as a curved line running across the sky. It is labelled with galactic longitude in degrees. Various radio sources (and some visible constellations) are also indicated. The position of the 7-m telescope is shown as a target-like crosshairs symbol. When the telescope is asked to move to a different position another set of crosshairs appears which shows the demanded position. The image updates automatically every 10 seconds.

Further information can be obtained by contacting us.