Tag Archives: Radio Astronomy

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!

Video: Shortwave listening and radio astronomy


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’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: