Tag Archives: Astronomy

Ham Radio: 2017 Eclipse Experiment

A map of the United States showing the path of totality for the August 21, 2017 total solar eclipse. (Source: NASA)

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Colin Newell, who shares a fascinating 2017 eclipse experiment outlined on the website HamSCI.

Here’s the summary of the experiment:

On 21 August 2017, a total solar eclipse will traverse the continental United States from Oregon to South Carolina in a period of just over 90 minutes.

Previous research shows that the shadow of the eclipse will impact the ionospheric state, but has not adequately characterized or explained the temporal and spatial extent of the resulting ionospheric effects.

HamSCI is inviting the amateur radio community to contribute to a large scale experiment by participating in an Eclipse QSO party and further developing automatic observation networks such as the Reverse Beacon Network.

Data resulting from these activities will be combined with observations from existing ionospheric monitoring networks in an effort to characterize and understand the ionospheric temporal and spatial effects caused by a total solar eclipse.

Click here to read the full detailed experiment at HamSCI online.

China nears completion of world’s largest radio telescope

FAST radio telescope [Photo/Xinhua: State Council, People's Republic of China]

FAST radio telescope [Photo/Xinhua: State Council, People’s Republic of China]

(Source: BBC News)

China has fitted the final piece on what will be the world’s largest radio telescope, due to begin operations in September, state media report.

The 500m-wide Aperture Spherical Telescope, or FAST, is the size of 30 football fields.
The $180m (£135m) satellite project will be used to explore space and help look for extraterrestrial life, Xinhua news agency reported.

Advancing China’s space program remains a key priority for Beijing.[…]

Click here to read the full article and watch the accompanying video. 

Radio astronomers track the source of fast radio bursts

PARI-East-26M-Antenna(Source: BBC)

For the first time, scientists have tracked the source of a “fast radio burst” – a fleeting explosion of radio waves which, in this case, came from a galaxy six billion light-years away.

The cause of the big flash, only the seventeenth ever detected, remains a puzzle, but spotting a host galaxy is a key moment in the study of such bursts.

It also allowed the team to measure how much matter got in the way of the waves and thus to “weigh the Universe”.

Their findings are published in Nature.

Continue reading on the BBC website…

Being a fan of radio astronomy, I find this sort of news fascinating.

Six billion light-years…that’s some serious DX!

Intergalactic DX: Detecting gravitational waves

NASA illustration of LISA--spacecraft that will form an extremely large antenna system for detecting gravitational waves.

NASA illustration of LISA–spacecraft that will form an extremely large antenna array for detecting gravitational waves.

Many thanks to SWLing Post reader, Dan H, who writes:

The biggest news during the last week is not the Republican or Democratic national party debates, the surrender of the last Militia Man at Malheur National Wildlife Reserve in Oregon or falling stock prices for Tesla. The biggest story of the week involves some lasers enclosed in huge vacuum tubes.

The recent proof for gravity waves is something that should have a lot of appeal to readers of SWLing Post. This story involves very weak waves originating billions of years ago, measuring distances with lasers and old-style vacuum tube tech (albeit four 2.4 mile-long tubes located 1,900 miles apart). It sounds like DXing to me and DXing is interesting. But, this story describes changes in spacetime and that is really significant.

I get it, at least on a layman basis. I think that many SWLing Post readers would get it too.

This link to an older article is the best that I can provide to describe it all. The recent discoveries involved LIGO sites in Hanford, Washington and Livingston Parish, Louisiana.


I heard over 90 minutes of programming on this subject during the last seven hours from BBC. I heard it locally on SW in northern California at 7445 and 9740 kHz. The programs were featured on the Newsday and Science Day BBC programs. Yes, I was listening to two different BBC relays from different parts of the world on my apparently outdated and uncool Sangean ATS-909X.

You’re right, Dan! I had planned to post an item about this, but have been been a bit behind due to travels. I believe you can’t find any weaker DX than gravitational waves from distant colliding black holes! It’s a fascinating idea, too, to use a laser antenna to detect these waves across space/time.

I also enjoyed this article and video from the New York Times.

Oh, and regarding your Sangean ATS-909X? I think it’s one of the coolest looking portables on the market! Glad to hear it’s serving you well.

Thanks for sharing, Dan!

The Amateur Astronomer: Tune in to Troy’s Christmas gift

imageSWLing Post reader, Troy Riedel, received a gift like no other from his son this Christmas. No, it wasn’t the fabulous Celestron telescope in the above photo.  On Christmas Eve (December 24) Troy sent the following message:

Merry Christmas, Thomas.

I have to tell you what my son gave me for Christmas a few hours ago.

He purchased 1-hour of radio time for me on WBCQ (5110) for Wednesday, 30 December at 8 P.M. EST.

I will have to pre-record approximately 50-55 minutes over the coming days (not much time to prepare).

After telling my son this is cool – I also added this is the most stressful gift I’ve ever received.

My son suggested I may want to talk about astronomy.

A cool gift, indeed.  Evidently––and even more cool–– Troy is something of a hardcore amateur astronomer. I also encouraged him to do a show on this topic; I can’t think of the last time I heard a show about astronomy on shortwave!

Troy Riedel, host of The Amateur Astronomer

Troy Riedel, host of The Amateur Astronomer

So, despite the challenge of putting a show together in less than a week, Troy confirmed yesterday that he has already completed the show and WBCQ will air it at the following time/frequency:

5,110 kHz on Dec 30, 2015 at 8:00 PM EST (1:00 UTC December 31, 2015)

Troy is looking forward to reception reports and will announce the address during the broadcast.

Oh––and being the good man he is, Troy is also including a PSA for Ears To Our World. Thanks, Troy!

Looking forward to the show!