The First EVN Users’ Training Event
by Benito Marcote (JIVE, the Netherlands) on behalf of the EVN User Support Group
On 11 May 2022, JIVE organised the first online EVN Users' Training Event with the aim to support first-time users of the European VLBI Network (EVN). The EVN Support Scientists guided participants through the different steps to allow them to prepare and submit an observing proposal as well as the scheduling of observations.
A total of 61 participants from 20 different countries registered to attend this training event from completely different backgrounds, mostly outside the VLBI radio community. We hope this kind of training will boost connections and collaborations between groups from different fields across the world.
The training was divided in two sessions, which were independent from each other:
- The Proposal Preparation Training aimed to provide all relevant information that an astronomer would need to apply for observing time with the EVN. This part assumed no prior knowledge of using the EVN or any other VLBI experience, so it was intended for the broad astronomical community. In this training we provided a global introduction to the EVN, the science that can be done with it, the observing modes that you can use, and the Support+ program that allows any astronomer to get very-high-resolution EVN images of their favourite targets. Then, we focused on all steps required to prepare and successfully submit an EVN proposal. From the initial scientific idea to the submission through the Northstar proposal platform. Finally, in this section we went through all tools that JIVE and the EVN provide to the users in order to make these steps easier: from the documentation available in the EVN website and how to reach it, to the EVN Observation Planner.
- The Schedule Preparation Training aimed to provide an introductory guide on how to schedule EVN observations. This part was intended for participants that already got observing time with the EVN and needed to arrange their observations, or as a first contact for participants that would carry on EVN observations in the future. In this section we explained everything that is required for scheduling EVN observations and the information that the EVN Support Scientists would require from the PI or contact author of the observations. We also introduced the pySCHED program, required to create the standard EVN schedule files, explaining how to write a schedule file, how to run it with pySCHED, and how to verify that the schedule optimises the granted observing time so it can reach the expected goals.
In addition to this, there was a discussion session where participants discussed typical doubts or issues together with the EVN Support Scientists.
While this training was conducted through Zoom, we also made use of the Mattermost chat channel that is from now on always open for any EVN user to reach the EVN Support Scientists. This new chat channel would complement the usual email contact point (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Future training events will be arranged periodically to keep the EVN community updated.