Tag Archives: Radio Astronomy

Will Green Bank soon become a little less radio quiet?

GreenBankTelescope(Source: BBC News via Richard Langley)

Disturbing the peace: Can America’s quietest town be saved?

There’s a town in West Virginia where there are tight restrictions on mobile signal, wifi and other parts of what most of us know as simply: modern life. It means Green Bank is a place unlike anywhere else in the world. But that could be set to change.

“Do you ever sit awake at night and wonder, what if?” I asked.

Mike Holstine’s eyes twinkled like the stars he had spent his life’s work observing.

“The universe is so huge,” he began.

“On the off chance we do get that hugely lucky signal, when we look in the right place, at the right frequency. When we get that… can you imagine what that’s going to do to humankind?”

Holstine is business manager at the Green Bank Observatory, the centrepiece of which is the colossal Green Bank Telescope. On a foggy Tuesday morning, I’m standing in the middle of it, looking up, feeling small.

Though the GBT has many research tasks, the one everyone talks about is the search for extra-terrestrial intelligence. The GBT listens out for signs of communication or activity by species that are not from Earth.

[…]Green Bank sits at the heart of the National Radio Quiet Zone, a 13,000 square mile (33,669 sq km) area where certain types of transmissions are restricted so as not to create interference to the variety of instruments set up in the hills – as well as the Green Bank Observatory, there is also Sugar Grove, a US intelligence agency outpost.

For those in the immediate vicinity of the GBT, the rules are more strict. Your mobile phone is useless here, you will not get a TV signal and you can’t have strong wi-fi? -?though they admit this is a losing battle. Modern life is winning, gradually. And newer wi-fi standards do not interfere with the same frequencies as before.[…]

Read the full article on the BBC News website.

Additionally, if you have access to the BBC iPlayer, click here to watch the Click episode featuring Green Bank.

Radio-Sky Spectrograph: Radio Astonomy with the SDRplay RSP

The SDRplay RSP software defined radio

The SDRplay RSP software defined radio

(Source: Amateur Radio Astronomy blog)

Thanks to the efforts of Nathan Towne, we now have the ability to use [the SDRplay RSP] with Radio-Sky Spectrograph (RSS).

[…]As with RTL Bridge, a intermediary program sits between RSS and the receiver.  This program was written by Nathan Towne and is named SDRPlay2RSS, not too surprisingly.  This is a dot NET program and if you are up to date on your dot NET run-time updates you should be fine. Installation is a no brainer as SDRPlay2RSS comes with the RSS 2.8.18 update. SDRPlay2RSS does not come with the current full install of RSS so you must do the Full install and then the Update.

Continue reading…

Click here to read our review of the SDRplay RSP.

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!