ASTRON Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy

Logo of the ASTRON organization
Formation 1949
Purpose Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy
  • 7990 AA Dwingeloo, The Netherlands
For fusion reactor design, see Astron (fusion reactor).

ASTRON is the Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy. Its main office is in Dwingeloo in the Dwingelderveld National Park in the province of Drenthe. ASTRON is part of Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO).


ASTRON's main mission is to make discoveries in radio astronomy happen, via the development of new and innovative technologies, the operation of world-class radio astronomy facilities, and the pursuit of fundamental astronomical research. Engineers and astronomers at ASTRON have an outstanding international reputation for novel technology development, and fundamental research in galactic and extra-galactic astronomy.

ASTRON's programme has three principal elements:

In addition, ASTRON is active in the international science policy arena and is one of the leaders in the international SKA project. The Square Kilometre Array will be the world’s largest and most sensitive radio telescope with a total collecting area of approximately one square kilometre. The SKA will be built in Southern Africa and in Australia. It is a global enterprise bringing together 11 countries from the 5 continents.

Observing facilities

Radio telescopes

ASTRON operates the Westerbork Synthesis Radio Telescope (WSRT), one of the largest radio telescopes in the world. The WSRT and the International LOFAR Telescope (ILT) are dedicated to explore the universe at radio frequencies from 8 GHz down to 10 MHz.

In addition to its use as a stand-alone radio telescope, the Westerbork array participates in the European Very Long Baseline Interferometry Network (EVN) of radio telescopes.

ASTRON is the host institute for the Joint Institute for VLBI in Europe (JIVE). Its primary task is to operate the EVN MkIV VLBI Data Processor (correlator). JIVE also provides a high-level of support to astronomers and the Telescope Network. ASTRON also hosts the NOVA Optical/ Infrared instrumentation group.

Technology development

Mid-frequency aperture array test site for the SKA, in South Africa

Discovery in astronomy goes hand in hand with innovation in technology. ASTRON pursues an proactive programme of technical development, aimed both at providing innovative instrumentation for use on current observing facilities, and at laying the groundwork for future generations of telescopes and signal processing instrumentation.

To these ends, the ASTRON facility in Dwingeloo maintains a well equipped R&D division specializing in the design, prototyping and qualification of:

External links

Wikimedia Commons has media related to ASTRON.

Coordinates: 52°48′48″N 6°23′48″E / 52.81333°N 6.39667°E / 52.81333; 6.39667

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