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King University Professor Studies Radio Astronomy at World’s Largest Radio Telescope

green_bank_wva_photocredit_t-burchell_nrao-aui-nsfBRISTOL, Tenn., Sept. 15, 2016 – Dr. Ray Bloomer, emeritus professor of Astronomy and Physics at King University, recently spent time training at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) in Green Bank, W.Va. While at NRAO, Dr. Bloomer participated in a Chautauqua Short Course on Radio Astronomy Update 2016: Pulsars and Gravitational Radiation, Dark Matter and Galaxy Evolution.

“The course is part of a series offered mostly to science teachers. It includes two-and-a-half days of total immersion in how radio telescopes work, tours of the facility at Green Bank, and mini-research projects using several of the radio telescopes, as well as cutting edge lectures by people who are actually doing [the work] – really exciting [work on] black holes, gravity waves, and pulsars,” said Bloomer. Bloomer said one of his reasons for participating in the course is to include radio astronomy in his course, “Survey of Astronomy,” as well as potential labs.

The NRAO is enabling forefront research into the universe at radio wavelengths. The NRAO operates a complementary, state-of-the-art suite of four radio telescope facilities for use by the scientific community, regardless of institutional or national affiliation. The NRAO collaborates with the university astronomy community to develop new instrumentation and technology and helps train the next generation of scientists through its student, co-op, postdoctoral, and Fellowship programs. A new data management system will soon improve every astronomer's access to NRAO data products for research and education.

Of NRAO’s four sites, which include Charlottesville, Va., Socorro, N.M., Santiago, Chili, and Green Bank, W. Va., Green Bank is home to the world’s largest fully-steerable radio telescope.

“The largest of the radio telescopes [at Green Bank] runs 24/7. The dish is over a hundred yards wide by 100 yards the other way. So imagine four football fields put together; that is how big that dish is,” Bloomer commented. He adds, “[The area] is a radio-quiet zone, by federal law. Within the quiet zone, you cannot have any cell phones, garage door openers, or anything that emits radiation. [NRAO] is trying to pick up signals that are coming from millions and billions of light years away.”

In April 2016, King University’s Edward Burke Observatory held a First Light Celebration to dedicate its own telescope, a 14-inch Celestron telescope donated by Mr. Wayne Manly, a member of the Bristol Astronomy Club.

Contact the King University Office of Admissions for information on the University’s Astronomy and Physics programs at 800.362.0014 or


King University is a Presbyterian-affiliated, doctoral-level comprehensive university. Founded in 1867 as King College, the University offers more than 90 majors, minors, pre-professional degrees and concentrations in fields such as business, nursing, law, medical and health sciences, pharmacy, education, and humanities. Graduate programs are offered in business administration, education, and nursing. A number of research, off-campus learning opportunities, and travel destinations are also available. King University is a NCAA Division II and a Conference Carolinas member with 25 varsity sports. For more information about King University, visit King University does not discriminate against academically qualified students of any race, color, national or ethnic origin, sex, age, or disability. King University is certified by SCHEV to operate locations in Virginia. For more information on SCHEV certification, contact the King University office at Southwest Virginia Community College, 309 College Road, Richlands, VA 24641.