In September 2018 we celebrate fifty years since the completion of the Westerbork Synthesis Radio Telescope (WSRT). In 1968 it hailed a new era of astronomy, joining the One-Mile Telescope located at Cambridge UK, exploring the new technique of dish-based interferometry. Over its lifetime, WSRT has been used for a wide range of high-resolution centimetre wave radio astronomy, from studying our solar system to probing galaxies at the edge of the Universe.
A clear theme emerges from this retrospective. The continuing success of this instrument relies on the extensive teamwork of scientists and engineers. Right from the start, this team delivered the WSRT with a clear vision to provide the Netherlands, and the wider international astronomical community, with a telescope of exceptional dynamic range and stability of operations. Throughout its 50-year lifetime, the WSRT has continually evolved, driven by this ongoing engineering-science interlink, testing and maturing novel concepts to deliver world-class capabilities. Moreover, the longevity of the WSRT as a system, underpinned by the collaborative esprit de corps, demonstrates not only the instrument's performance, but also the high level of expertise passed on through generations of astronomers and engineers.
This collection of papers on the WSRT's history, discoveries, current and future promise provides a fitting tribute to the ambitious engineers and scientists of the 1960's who brought this array to the Dutch and international landscape.
|Concept, Design and Metrology of the WSRT Antennas
|The first 10 years of Discovery
|WSRT Observations of Radio Source Structure in the 1970s
|Exploring the time-varying Universe
|An Ever more penetrating View
|Very Long Baseline Interferometry: the EVN, WSRT, and JIVE
|Preparing for LOFAR
|The Magnetic Universe
|Ever growing sensitivities
|Cosmology with the WSRT
|The Westerbork Telescope and Neutral Hydrogen (HI) in the Universe
|HII region studies with the WSRT
|The Solar System
|Apertif; the next stage
|Radio Astronomy and Innovation
|Observations outside Radio Astronomy
|Fifty WSRT highlights