NEXT PSC Training Course starts February 9, 2023!  Register for the Spring Course!


PSC Online Training Workshop

Learn “extreme” astronomy, and join in research to find new pulsars! Teachers and students can start a self-paced lesson series anytime!

PSC Staff

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PSC Staff

This PSC online course will prepare you to be diligent, observant researchers  who can discover new pulsars, rule out interference, and sift through mountains of data just as our astronomers, graduate students and undergraduate students do.   All PSC members–students and teachers– who want to access and analyze GBT data, should complete the six modules outlined below. It’s not hard, but this may be a new world to many of you, and it’s important to get it right! There are several ways you can complete this course:

  1. Participate in real time with others. Teachers and students can register on the PSC, and go through our 6 lesson series together. PSC staff will engage with you on on the forum and answer any questions you have as they arise!
  2. Twice a year we host facilitated workshops that begin with an intro meeting, followed by  six weekly webchats with one of our astronomers! We meet using an online platform called Zoom. Zoom works great on all computers and most smart phones.
    • Pros:  You get to meet with our astronomers!  plus you will have an active group to communicate with on our forum.
    • Cons: It may not fit your schedule– Even if you can’t be in on the weekly webchats, having a group to communicate with is the best!
  3. A teacher could participate in a workshop and then lead students through the course materials  at a later time.  This works really well too.
  4. Students only: Self-paced, and asynchronous. Let’s say a teacher is willing to administer the program – and get  students signed up but doesn’t want to participate in the training, AND you found out about the program after the real-time session was over.  That’s ok.   Just get started.  We are ALWAYS on the forum, and will answer any questions you have along the way.

Below is  a module listing and  pacing schedule for our training.  These modules are available to  teachers, once they log in, and to students once their account is activated, and they have taken a survey that will be presented to them when they log into the database for the first time.  

What’s the first step?  Teachers: Go to the “Teachers” Group page to apply. Then  register on the database and set up a group for your students. Next step: have students register, and activate them.  Then you are ready to go!

Each week:

  1. Welcome, recap of week’s videos and homework (SA, or a PSC aficionado: 5 mins)
  2. Breakout rooms with Mentors, and structured conversation, homework discussion (20 mins)
  3. Return to main room for 2 min report out from each group/discussion (10 mins)
  4. Enrichment Talk: meet a Pulsar scientist or panel: (20 mins including questions)
  5. Final Thoughts, and work for following week: 5 mins

Week 1: 

  • Welcome (Webchat video) by Maura McLaughlin and Sue Ann Heatherly
  • Overview, opportunities for students, what have previous students done, get to know you
  • Introduce yourself on the forum

Week 2:

  • Videos: How pulsars are made. Why pulsars are important.
  • Optional: What is the PSC?
  • Homework: Read or watch How pulsars were discovered. Read a new press release. Pick a supernova remnant, and find out three facts about it. Report in the forum.
  • Guest speaker: Maura McLaughlin.  Topic:  NanoGrav

Week 3:

  • Videos: Pulsar Properties I, Dispersion Measure I, Dispersion Measure II
  • Homework: Adopt a Pulsar find out about it using the ATNF catalog, Practice using DM Calculator, Try Dunc’s questions
  • Guest speaker: Dusty Madison. Topic: Solar wind

Week 4:

  • Video: Prepfold Plots
  • Homework: Use the 20 Meter to take data on your adopted pulsar,  Practice Scoring Prepfold Plots
  • Guest speaker: Megan DeCesar  Topic: NANOGrav pulsar timing.

Week 5:

  • Video: Single Pulse Pulse Plots,  RRATS 
  • Homework: Practice Scoring Single Pulse Plots
  • Guest speaker: Natalia Lewandowska  Topic: Giant pulses.

Week 6:

  • Video: PPdot diagram, pulsar properties II
  • Homework: Pulsar Certification quiz 1-3 , where does their pulsar land on the ppdot diagram
  • Guest speaker: Pragya Chawla.  Topic: CHIME FRBs 

Week 7:

  • Video: No instructional video this week
  • Homework: The rest of the certification tests
  • Guest speaker: Harsha Blumer.  Topic: Magnetars