Astro191 Undergrads visit Bell Labs with Bob Wilson and make measurements with the telescope that "discovered the Big Bang"

April 4, 2016
Astronomy 191 Students pose with Bob Wilson

On April 2, twelve students of the advanced undergraduate lab course Astro191 along with Prof. John Kovac (course head), Prof. Josh Grindlay, Teaching Fellow Tyler St. Germaine, and other enthusiastic friends from the CfA community traveled to Holmdel, NJ to the Bell Labs facilities where radio astronomy was "discovered" by Karl Jansky in 1932 and where fossil radiation from the Big Bang, the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB), was first detected in 1965.  The visit was hosted by Nobel laureate Bob Wilson (now at the CfA) who described the history and events leading to the CMB discovery and the establishment of modern cosmology, a story of careful measurements, theoretical insight, helicopters, pigeons and shotguns.  With help from Dr. Wilson and Astro191 instructors, the students used sound waves to map out the beam pattern of the iconic 20 ft. horn antenna used for the historic measurement and compared these measurements to their theoretical predictions.

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