Pulses@Parkes WA

CSIRO’s Parkes Radio Telescope. By CSIRO, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=35481714

Perth high school students control Parkes Telescope for a day

Recently, Perth high school students were able to spend the day with CSIRO radio astronomers and operate the 64 metre-wide Parkes radio telescope from the Pawsey Supercomputing Centre!

The Parkes telescope,  a CSIRO-owned radio telescope in NSW, has discovered two-thirds of all pulsars so far known to man.

The PULSE@Parkes program allows high school students to remotely operate the Parkes telescope in a real-time observation session with the guidance of radio astronomers.

“PULSE@Parkes was set up back in 2007; we wanted to introduce students to radio astronomy. We had an idea that we could give them a hands-on experience using an iconic national facility in real time to do some exciting science,” said Robert Hollow, the PULSE@Parkes coordinator.


Twenty-five students from Butler College, Byford Secondary College, and Willetton Senior High School took part in the PULSE@Parkes session at Pawsey. Students were able to observe pulsars and astronomy events that took place over two hours and then engage in data analysis that contributes to Parkes astronomy research.

In preparation, students from Willetton High School’s astronomy club did their research on pulsars before attending the event at Pawsey.

“The kids were very excited to come here,” said Darren Hamley, a science teacher from Willetton Senior High.

“They learned more about pulsars and were inspired by the environment, by getting out of the school environment and being able to use this amazing equipment. They enjoyed talking to scientists as well, the astronomers are really speaking their language, and they don’t often get that.”

After the hands-on astronomy experience, students took a guided tour of the state-of-the-art facilities at Pawsey meeting Magnus, the most powerful supercomputer in the Southern Hemisphere. Students learned about the relationship between astronomy and supercomputing along with other scientific outcomes that Pawsey is enabling together with the research community of Australia.

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Click here to get involved with PULSE@Parkes