Video: Shortwave listening and radio astronomy

Sony-ICF-SW100

On Thursday I attended an event at the Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute (PARI)–location of the 2015 SWLing Post DXPedition.

During a break, I had a couple of free hours, so I reached in my messenger bag and pulled out the Sony ICF-SW100: a radio that has quickly surpassed all others as my favorite EDC (everyday carry) radio. It has so many useful features in such a small package!

Radio astronomy observatories are ideal locations for impromptu shortwave radio listening as there is little to no radio interference/noise present.

PARI-26E-and-26W

PARI’s “Building 1” and the 26 West (left) and 26 East (right) radio telescopes.

While the weather on Thursday was gorgeous, HF band conditions were…well…miserable. There was very little to hear other than China Radio International, Radio Havana Cuba and a few other blow torch broadcasters.

Still, time signal station WWV was on my mind since I had just purchased Myke’s new edition of At The Tone and have been reading your excellent comments with early memories of listening to WWV and WWVH.

I tuned to 15 MHz and, of course, there was reliable WWV in Fort Collins, Colorado on frequency. Though WWV’s signal was relatively strong (despite the conditions) I turned on the SW100’s sync detector because fading (QSB) was pronounced at times.

Here’s a short video of the ICF-SW100 on a picnic table in the middle of the PARI campus. That’s PARI’s 26 (meter) West telescope in the background:

National Radio Quiet Zone featured in BBC Radio 4 series

GreenBankTelescope

Many thanks to SWLing Post reader, David Freeborough, who shares this brilliant, in-depth radio documentary featured on the BBC News and BBC Radio 4.

This BBC News Magazine article introduces the documentary:

“Anyone driving west from Washington DC towards the Allegheny Mountains will arrive before long in a vast area without mobile phone signals. This is the National Radio Quiet Zone – 13,000 square miles (34,000 sq km) of radio silence. What is it for and how long will it survive?

As we drive into the Allegheny Mountains the car radio fades to static. I glance at my mobile phone but the signal has disappeared.

Ahead of us a dazzling white saucer looms above the wooded terrain of West Virginia, getting bigger and bigger with every mile. It’s the planet’s largest land-based movable object – the Robert C Byrd Green Bank Telescope (GBT) – 2.3 acres in surface area, and taller than the Statue of Liberty.

But it needs electrical peace and quiet to do its job.”

[Continue reading…]

The story continues on the BBC News site, but I would encourage you to listen to the five part radio documentary series on BBC Radio 4 first. Green Bank, WV, is certainly one part of the planet where a shortwave radio listener would be quite happy: residents have virtually no radio interference or obnoxious electrical noises that plague the rest of the modern world.

telescopes-1911The radio documentary can be streamed on the Radio 4 website.  I’ve included links to each episode below. As far as I can tell, there are no expiration dates on the Radio 4 streams:

My wife and I have camped near the NROA site in Green Bank–it’s a beautiful part of the world. I’m certainly long overdue to return!

Again, David, many thanks for sharing this!

Living in a National Radio Quiet Zone

The Green Bank Telescope: An impressive parabolic dish covering 2.3 acres, the GBT has the largest collecting area of any fully-steerable telescope in the world. (Photo: R. Creager, NRAO/AUI/NSF)

The Green Bank Telescope: An impressive parabolic dish covering 2.3 acres, the GBT has the largest collecting area of any fully-steerable telescope in the world. (Photo: R. Creager, NRAO/AUI/NSF)

Many thanks to SWLing Post reader, Paul, who shares this National Geographic video about Green Bank, West Virginia, USA–home of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO):

My wife and I took a camping trip to Green Bank in the late 1990s when the massive Green Bank Telescope was about 80% complete. The NRAO site is inspiring and you (of course) will find no better place on the east coast for RF quiet conditions.

The staff at the NRAO give daily tours throughout the year–click here to view the schedule and costs.

I’m overdue for another visit.

Video: Listening to sunspots on your shortwave radio

Digital Journal  reported that last weekend’s Sunspot 1302 was so strong that it had been detected via shortwave radio.  The following video marries the shortwave audio with images from the sunspot:

A little shortwave radio astronomy courtesy of the Solar Dynamics Observatory. Audio recorded by Thomas Ashcraft in New Mexico. Read more at the Digital Journal.

Listen to asteroid echos November 8th-9th

The massive Green Bank Telescope will be listening for CW tuned to put the asteroid's echo at a constant 2380 MHz (Photo Source: NRAO / AUI / NSF)

The excellent Southgate ARC has posted information on receiving signals that the Arecibo Observatory, the Deep Space Network Goldstone facility, the Green Bank Telescope and the Very Long Baseline Array will be bouncing off of the near-Earth asteroid 2005 YU55.

The asteroid will be making a 0.85 lunar distance flyby of Earth on November 8.

While the listening frequencies are well above the HF (shortwave) spectrum, many of you may have wide-band receivers or ham radio equipment that could tune in the signals. So, apologies for this slightly off-topic post. The amateur radio astronomer in me couldn’t help but promote this rather cool and unique opportunity.

From Southgate ARC:

Because YU55 will be so close to Earth, its radar echo will be detectable with even small antennas (~1 m^2). YU55’s echo will be a slowly drifting signal with a bandwidth of ~1 Hz within a few kHz of 2380 MHz or 8560 MHz.

[…]On November 8, 2011, 19:15 – 19:30 UTC, Arecibo will be transmitting a continuous wave tuned to put the asteroid’s echo at a constant 2380.000000 MHz at the Green Bank Telescope. Observers elsewhere on Earth will see the echo within 2 kHz of 2380 MHz, Doppler-shifted by the Earth’s rotation. It will be slowly drifting in frequency and have a bandwidth of ~0.6 Hz.

On November 9, 2011, 01:30 – 02:00 UTC, the Goldstone Deep Space Network facility will be be transmitting a continuous wave tuned to put the asteroid’s echo a constant 8560.000000 MHz at a second antenna at the Goldstone site. Other observers may see the echo shifted by as much as 6 kHz, and it will have a bandwidth of ~2 Hz.

Read the full article on the Southgate ARC website.