Tag Archives: Radio Astronomy

Video: Physicist reminisces about Arecibo Radio Telescope

Arecibo Observatory’s 305-meter telescope in November 2020 (Credit: University of Central Florida)

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, TomL, who shares the following:

I came across this youtube video about a physicist who worked there in his early years and gives this tribute to his time there. Maybe some others would like to see it too:

Amazing! Thank you, Tom!

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A Universe of Sound

This deep image from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory shows the Vela pulsar, a neutron star that was formed when a massive star collapsed. (Source: NASA)

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Roger, who writes:

Hello Thomas,

I thought you, along with some others in the SWLing community, might be interested in the musical renditions, or sonifications, that were released 9/22/2020 by NASA’s Chandra X-ray

Center Universe of Sound website.
https://chandra.si.edu/sound/index.html

I found it utterly fascinating, and hope you do too.

Source: ScienceNews, Vol. 198 ? No. 8 (November 7, 2020) p. 4.

Many thanks, Roger for sharing this! Below, I’ve copied one excerpt with one pulsar sound. I’d encourage you to check out the others by clicking here.

Listen to a Pulsar Clock

Turning a pulsar’s rotational data into sound makes it easier to observe patterns and make comparisons between different nebulous pulsar rotational speeds. as a pulsar ages it spins at a slower speed. listen to the different pulsar heartbeats. what can you guess about how fast these different pulsars rotate? Which pulsar is the oldest? How about the youngest?

Neutron stars are strange and fascinating objects. They represent an extreme state of matter that physicists are eager to know more about. Yet, even if you could visit one, you would be well-advised to turn down the offer.

The intense gravitational field would pull your spacecraft to pieces before it reached the surface. The magnetic fields around neutron stars are also extremely strong. Magnetic forces squeeze the atoms into the shape of cigars. Even if your spacecraft prudently stayed a few thousand miles above the surface neutron star so as to avoid the problems of intense gravitational and magnetic fields, you would still face another potentially fatal hazard.

If the neutron star is rotating rapidly, as most young neutron stars are, the strong magnetic fields combined with rapid rotation create an awesome generator that can produce electric potential differences of quadrillions of volts. Such voltages, which are 30 million times greater than those of lightning bolts, create deadly blizzards of high-energy particles.

These high-energy particles produce beams of radiation from radio through gamma-ray energies. Like a rotating lighthouse beam, the radiation can be observed as a pulsing source of radiation, or pulsar. Pulsars were first observed by radio astronomers in 1967. The pulsar in the Crab Nebula, one of the youngest and most energetic pulsars known, has been observed to pulse in almost every wavelength—radio, optical, X-ray, and gamma-ray.

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Radio Waves: Signals from Mars, Two More Hamstronauts, M17 Digital Voice Mode, and Climbing Trees for a Better Signal

Radio Waves:  Stories Making Waves in the World of Radio

Because I keep my ear to the waves, as well as receive many tips from others who do the same, I find myself privy to radio-related stories that might interest SWLing Post readers.  To that end: Welcome to the SWLing Post’s Radio Waves, a collection of links to interesting stories making waves in the world of radio. Enjoy!

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributors Troy Riedel, LG, Ron and the ARRL News for the following tips:


Radio Signals from Mars (Spaceweather.com)

How close is Mars? Close enough for radio reception. On Oct. 4th, amateur radio operator Scott Tilley picked up a carrier wave from NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) circling the Red Planet. Turn up the volume and listen to the Martian Doppler shift:

Tilley is a leader in the field of satellite radio. Dead satellites, zombie satellites, spy satellites: He routinely finds and tracks them. “But this was a first for me,” he says. “A satellite around Mars!”

It’s not easy picking up radio signals from distant planets. NASA does it using the giant antennas of the Deep Space Network. Tilley uses a modest 60 cm dish in his backyard in Roberts Creek, BC. This week’s close encounter with Mars set the stage for his detection.

“MRO’s signal is weak, but it is one of the louder signals in Mars orbit,” says Tilley. “The spacecraft has a large dish antenna it uses as a relay for other Mars missions. With the proximity of Mars these days, it was the perfect time to try.”[]

Two More Astronauts Earn Amateur Radio Licenses (ARRL News)

Although the lockdown of Johnson Space Center (JSC) postponed amateur radio training and licensing over the past 7 months, NASA ISS Ham Project Coordinator Kenneth Ransom, N5VHO, was able to work with all of the new astronaut-class graduates, as well as offer some refresher courses with already-licensed astronauts. Licensed astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS) may operate the on-station ham radio equipment without restrictions.

Astronauts often participate in Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) contacts with schools and groups on Earth.

NASA Astronaut Kayla Barron, who completed her introductory course in June and received basic ham radio operations training in late September, recently tested and received the call sign KI5LAL.

European Space Agency astronaut Matthias Maurer passed his amateur radio exam on July 30, and he got his basic ham operations training in July. He now is KI5KFH.

Astronauts Shane Kimbrough, KE5HOD, and Shannon Walker, KD5DXB, completed the refresher course earlier this year. Two other new astronauts are in the queue to take the Technician license exam. — Thanks to Rosalie White, K1STO[]

M17 Aims to replace proprietary ham radio protocols (Hackaday.io)

While M17 might sound like a new kind of automatic rifle (as actually, it is), we were referring to an open source project to create a ham radio transceiver. Instead of paraphrasing the project’s goals, we’ll simply quote them:

The goal here should be to kick the proprietary protocols off the airwaves, replace DMR, Fusion, D-Star, etc. To do that, it’s not just good enough to be open, it has to be legitimately competitive.

Like some other commercial protocols, M17 uses 4FSK along with error correction. The protocol allows for encryption, streaming, and the encoding of callsigns in messages. There are also provisions for framing IP packets to carry data. The protocol can handle voice and data in a point-to-point or broadcast topology.

On the hardware side, the TR-9 is a UHF handheld that can do FM voice or M17 with up to 3 watts out. The RF portion uses an ADF7021 chip which is specifically made to do 4FSK. There’s also an Arm CPU to handle the digital work.[]

Armed with a radio, Cambodian girl climbs tree to access education (SE Asia Globe)

When Cambodian schools closed due to Covid-19, poor internet access and a lack of minority language materials made distance learning in rural communities near impossible. But armed with a simple radio, children are rising above these obstacles to their education

Jumping down from the tree near her home, Srey Ka assumes her spot in the shade underneath as she adjusts the dials on her radio. Her pet piglet remains asleep at her feet, twitching his nose as he dreams, his belly full of leftover rice. Around her, cows meander by, their ringing bells competing with the sound of static from her radio.

While her school is still closed due to Covid-19 regulations, she still wears her Grade 3 uniform as she attempts to locate a signal. She’s listening out for distance learning programmes – six hours of educational radio broadcasts per week for children in Grades 1-3, some of which are in her ethnic minority language.

It was August and Srey Ka had just received a radio from international nonprofit Aide et Action, two weeks before her school reopened as pandemic measures eased in Cambodia in early September.

From the Phnong ethnic minority group, Srey Ka struggled to find learning resources in her language during school closures. Eager to cram as much as she can before returning to school, Srey Ka tied the antenna of her radio to the highest point of a tree to get the best reception. Even a clear radio signal is hard to come by in the small fishing village of Pun Thachea, located along a remote stretch of the Mekong river in Cambodia’s northeast Kratié province.[]


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Jupiter’s radio noise

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Bruce Atchison, who writes:

I came across this video last year and I thought you’d be interested in it. I also picked up Jupiter on my CB radio one morning. We all wondered what was generating those sounds of waves crashing on the beach. Later on, I learned about Jupiter’s powerful radio bursts.

Click here to view on YouTube.

Thanks for sharing this, Bruce!

I got a kick out of the narration–especially the subjective comment regarding the sound of Jupiter heard on radio: “The noise is disturbing…”

The narrator is obviously not a radio listener or astronomer! Ha ha!

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Big Sunspot Produces “Ocean Surf” Sounds on Shortwave

Though sunspots have been rare this year, Sunspot AR2738 has been producing bursts which have been heard as radio static – that sounds like “ocean surf” – on shortwave.

This was posted early this morning at spaceweather.com – along with a recording:

If you have a shortwave radio, you might have heard some unusual sounds this week. Big sunspot AR2738 is producing strong bursts of radio static. “They sound like ocean surf,” says Thomas Ashcraft, who recorded this specimen on April 13th using an amateur radio telescope in New Mexico:

Credit: Observation of Thomas Ashcroft via Spaceweather.com

Please refer to the Spaceweather.com Archive for more info.

Guest Post by Troy Riedel

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Fast Radio Bursts (FRBs) from a distant galaxy detected

Many thanks to a number of SWLing Post contributors who’ve shared the following news:

(Source: Southgate ARC)

Mysterious radio signals from deep space detected

BBC News report astronomers have revealed details of mysterious signals emanating from a distant galaxy, picked up by a telescope in Canada.

The precise nature and origin of the blasts of radio waves is unknown.

Among the 13 fast radio bursts, known as FRBs, was a very unusual repeating signal, coming from the same source about 1.5 billion light years away.

Such an event has only been reported once before, by a different telescope.

“Knowing that there is another suggests that there could be more out there,” said Ingrid Stairs, an astrophysicist from the University of British Columbia (UBC).

“And with more repeaters and more sources available for study, we may be able to understand these cosmic puzzles – where they’re from and what causes them.”

The CHIME observatory, located in British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley, consists of four 100-metre-long, semi-cylindrical antennas, which scan the entire northern sky each day.

The telescope only got up and running last year, detecting 13 of the radio bursts almost immediately, including the repeater.

Read the full BBC News article
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-46811618

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“Radio on the Edges”: Robert’s lifelong pursuit

(Photo source: All Things Radio by Robert Gulley)

SWLing Post contributor, Robert Gulley (AK3Q), recently published a post on his blog discussing the edges of radio reception and his pursuit of DX in all forms. I think this article speaks to many of us.

(Source: All Things Radio by Robert Gulley)

Radio on the Edges can mean a number of different things, depending on one’s perspective. For me, at the moment, it means distance. It means reaching the edges of where a signal can go.

One of the more intriguing aspects of radio is just how far a signal will travel. I have been a DX chaser for years, starting with AM Broadcast signals when I was a kid. The further the station, the cooler the signal in those days.

Then of course there was Shortwave radio. Now that was cool! That was real DX! Hearing countries from around the world was just the best! Well, that it, the best until I became an amateur radio operator and could send signals around the world! Whoo-Hoo! Hot Dog! Oh yeah, baby!!

Still to do on my DX list is to bounce a signal off the moon. Technically my signals have already gone into space, to the ISS and to orbiting satellites. But the moon so far has eluded me. Well at least, confirmation of bouncing off the moon back to myself or to another amateur has so far eluded me.

But Radio on the Edges also means a different kind of DX.[…]

Click here to continue reading on Robert’s excellent site, All Things Radio.

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