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December 7, 2016

Radio Astronomy Group Workshop – 7 December 2016

Report by: Clive Inglis


A workshop meeting of the Radio Astronomy special interest group took place at Mycenae House on the 7th December 2016. Owing to the usual pre-Christmas commitments, a number of the regular attendees were absent, but this didn’t prevent some useful discussions taking place. The workshop started with a discussion on the data collected by the member’s VLF Sudden Ionospheric Disturbance (SID) solar monitors. There have been very few SID events detected by the group since the last meeting and it was suggested this was due to the fact that solar activity is now declining from its maximum (around April 2014).

Clive Inglis gave an update on his Raspberry Pi/ USB Sound Card based SID system and said that he had written a set of instructions on how to set up one of these systems. It was agreed that he would post these instructions under Useful Stuff on the society’s forum.

The group then moved on to consider future radio astronomy projects that could be undertaken by the group as a whole or the members individually. It was felt by some members that, as their VLF SID systems were now established and solar activity was decreasing, they would like to further investigate meteor detection using the radio “back-scatter” technique. Members of the group have experience in this technique using the Graves RADAR transmitting from Dijon, France. However, the location of this RADAR does not allow visual observation of the meteors detected. If the Belgium based BRAMS transmitter was used this might be possible.

Other possible projects discussed were:

Radio Jove – Radio bursts produced by Io’s motion through Jupiter’s Magnetosphere.

H-Line detection of emission from the Galactic Disc – Using RTL-SDR dongle, coupled to multi-element Yagi or dish antennas (Dicke Radiometer).

Cosmic Pi cosmic ray detector – Being developed by CERN scientists. The aim is to make the world’s largest cosmic ray detector by connecting together Cosmic Pi detectors operated by schools and enthusiasts throughout Europe.

Solar radiometric measurements – Satellite TV LNB receiver, dish and satellite finder used as solar radiometer, Drift Scan Solar Transit.

Solar Active Regions – Microwave Interferometer combining signals from two or three satellite dishes with LNB receivers to resolve solar disc.

The Cosmic Pi cosmic ray detector is still under development, but the first systems are currently being rolled out to schools and interested parties for testing. It is thought that when these Raspberry Pi based detectors become available to the general public they should retail from between £200 to £300.

Clive Inglis briefly described his progress on a low cost H Line detection system, again based on a Raspberry Pi computer but this time using a RTL-SDR (Software Defined Radio) USB dongle. It was thought that this was another project members of the radio group might want to take up.

Posted under: Flamsteed, Meeting Report, Practical Astronomy Group, Radio Astronomy