DXpedition at a radio astronomy observatory: Want to join me?

PARI-WestYesterday evening, prior to my presentation at the Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute (PARI), I took the opportunity to do a little portable shortwave listening on the PARI campus.


One of the great things about listening to shortwave, mediumwave or longwave at a radio astronomy site is the blissful absence of any radio noise. Radio astronomy requires seriously RF-quiet conditions, and all the better for SWLing, too. My little Tecsun PL-380 receiver easily detected most everything on the 31 meter band; All India Radio (and the Voice of Korea on the same frequency), for example, was as strong as a local station.

DX among the radio telescopes:  Sound fun–?

Next year, in October 2015, I might just organize a radio listening DXpedition at PARI. It would be a wonderful opportunity to DX in an RFI-free environment in the beautiful mountains of western North Carolina, on the 200+ acre campus of an active radio astronomy observatory and former NASA tracking station. (Really, how cool is that?!?)

PARI has agreed to handle all of the arrangements, and even provide some dorm rooms and camping space to the first registrants. There will be a fee for the event (to pay for the facilities and PARI staff time) but any profit would benefit PARI’s science education mission. The fee would be based on the number of attendees and how many nights we operate–I’d aim for two nights, on a Friday and Saturday (October 9 & 10, 2015).

If you would be interested in a shortwave listening DXpedition at PARI in Rosman, North Carolina, USA, please contact me or comment below.  Click here to track the distance to PARI.

Note: the autumn foliage, for which the NC mountain region is famed, will be at or near its peak during the time of the DXpedition.

PS–Bonus: A dish in motion

As I departed the PARI site late Friday, an astronomer programmed the rotation of the East radio telescope, an awe-inspiring 26-meter parabolic antenna.  I snapped a couple of shots with my iPhone.  It was truly impressive, this massive radio telescope slowly turning to some distant star or galaxy to acquire new data.  See for yourself (for a sense of scale, see the fence at the base):



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12 thoughts on “DXpedition at a radio astronomy observatory: Want to join me?

  1. Alfredo Gallerati IK7JGI

    Hello Thomas, I yust need some help from you. I’m the Radiolistening Coordinator of The Italian Amateur Radio Association (A.R.I.). So yust about the next DX Pedition at PARI, I need more informations and help from you, yust to inform our members through our magazine “RADIO RIVISTA” in which I publish, monthly pages yust about “RADIO…LISTENING”.So i beg you please to write me to the following address: [email protected] Write me please Thomas Sending your personal email. Thank you very much! Please have my best thanks and regards. Alfredo, IK7JGI

  2. Xanthar

    Greetings. I have been monitoring human radio activity for many earth years. It is what you might call a hobby of sorts for me. I would like very much to meet other beings with an interest in monitoring radio waves from Earth. I can depart on an intergalactic public spaceship, but the closest drop-off point to Earth is Neptune. Will anyone be traveling from the greater Neptune region to attend? I’ll gladly help split the fuel costs.
    Thank you.

    1. Thomas Post author

      Greetings, Xanthar! We’d love for you to join us at the PARI DXpedition. If you make it, you’ll be a shoe-in for the “traveled the farthest” contest.

      Hopefully, if another intergalactic traveler is reading this blog, they’ll consider giving you a lift from Neptune to Earth.

      One request: en route, could you please do some spectrum recordings of transmissions from Earth? It would be great to collect spectrum recordings from the early 1920s through 2000s. You probably know that we only recently developed the technology to record spectrum–much too late for these early broadcasts. I’ll comp your DXpedition registration fees if you could do this for us. No worries: we’ll sort out a way to deal with any blue shift in the recordings.

      Thanks for your comment and safe travels!


  3. R. Lewis

    This sounds really nice and a very good opportunity to meet other SWL’s. Please keep me posted on the latest developments. I plan on attending also.

    R. Lewis

  4. Hank Michalenka

    tough math question; had me stumped for a minute…
    perfect time of the year for me; weekend before all income tax extensions are due and I could use the quiet! keep me posted on details! thanks!!!

  5. Ed McCorry

    Thanks Thomas. Sounds like a great idea. Living 4 hours away I wouldn’t miss it. How many times do you get to listen in a RF free environment!


  6. Mark Fahey

    Wow, that will be an amazing DXpedition! Google Earth reports my distance to travel from my home will be 9,408.18122 miles (as the crow flies), but I’m up for it!
    Count me in!

    Mark, Sydney

    1. Thomas Post author

      Woo hoo! Mark, we can do some serious coordinated spectrum recording! You’ll be sure to win the “traveled the longest distance” award. It’ll be ironic to log Radio Australia. 🙂



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