We were introduced to the local staff and shown around the main building before going on a tour of the telescopes. I say telescopes because a new LOFAR station has been built next to the 100m. While LOFAR will be an amazing instrument and this station alone has the same collecting area as Parkes, it's not exactly spectacular to look at. It is basically a lot of wire in a field with a big box-o'-electronics next to it. Still, it's going to be fun to use.
Then we turned our attention to the 100m itself. It's a beautifully designed telescope which changes its shape in an entirely predictable way as it moves. This means that unlike the GBT it can maintain an accurate high-frequency surface without needing actuators. We took a lift up to the top of the towers. To get to the focus cabin the telescope was pointed nearly horizontally allowing us to walk along one of the support arms. This has the added advantage of not having to climb all the way. From the arm you get a good view of the primary and secondary focus cabins.
Once inside the primary focus cabin the telescope was slewed so that it was pointing directly up. It was interesting how our perception of the space in the focus cabin changed as the floor slowly became the wall and visa-versa. Once we'd reached the zenith we climbed up to the roof to admire the slightly damp view of the valley.
Back on the ground we inspected the cable wrap before heading to the control room. In the rack of backends I saw a familiar sight, a PDFB from the ATNF. It still needs a bit of work before we can use it regularly. There was also the new multibeam backend which vital for the new survey.
After a quick meeting we drove back to Bonn, stopping for a late lunch and a beer in a nearby village. I'm looking forward to going back to observe!