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August 2018 - Radio Astronomy Group Meetings

Next "extra" meeting:  Sunday 5th August 10am

An idea we are trying where a few of us who can spare a little extra time try to consolidate some of the work done in the previous "usual" meeting and test out some ideas or equipment for the next "usual" meeting.

We'll be double checking the upcoming Io observation times too.

Next "usual" meeting: Sunday 12th August 10am

Continuing work on the magnetometer project and see if we can graph some data! Also (if the weather is good) try and focus the 2nd dish.

Next Radio Jove "Io-B" Observing: Saturday 18th August 17:30 (sunset) - 19:30

Current status:

The Radio Astronomy Group currently has three projects on the boil at the moment covering the inner solar system with the magnetometer, the outer solar system with our Radio Jove equipment and the galaxy (and beyond!) with our 21cm hydrogen line system.

  1. Magnetometer:   we are currently building a portable 2-axis magnetometer for educational and demonstration purposes with the intention of then graduating to building a full 3-axis magnetometer for permanent installation at MBO (which will need burying underground for a number of reasons).  The idea is to be able to record and graph the local magnetic field of the Earth and to monitor its disturbance by emissions from the Sun that can trigger aurora.
  2. Radio Jove:  We have a pair of Radio Jove receivers (one of which starred on StarGazing Live thanks to the good offices of Lindsay) connected to long dipole antennas on the roof of the log cabin.  Here we are trying to listen to the radio emissions from natural processes on Jupiter.   The difficulty here is that there are only certain times of the week when the geometry of the system coincides with our night time and the next opportunity for observing isn't until August now.
  3. 1410MHz Phase Switched Interferometer:  We have a pair of large dishes mounted above the log cabin which are connected to a phase shifted interferometer.  All of this equipment is on long term loan to MBO thanks to the good offices of Ray.  The receiver itself was custom built by Hans Michlmayr and we are now in contact with him in Western Australia and he has been most gracious in helping us with our misunderstandings about what the system actually is (we had heard it was a 21cm hydrogen line receiver), how it works and what it is intended for.

If any of these projects interest you please feel free to visit, and you'd be most welcome to join the RAG mailing list too!

Please contact me at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

All the best,
Chris (the RAG coordinator)


Sunday 8th July 2018 - Radio Astronomy Group Meeting

Next meeting: RAG "regular" meeting 10am Saturday 8th July

Ray will bring along his magnetometer project for us to finish building. Please bring soldering irons & solder if you have them! Depending on how many people attend and the weather we may also get to focus the second 21cm dish.

Status update

Our first attempt at listening to Jupiter was sadly unsuccessful as the software we were using has a crazy way of setting the time it uses for predictions and so we were 15 hours out. We've now resolved that! Sorry to those who came along.

Last Sunday 1st July was the "extra" meeting and we ran through the Radio Jupiter-Pro software and figured out why its predictions were so far out (you have to tell it both the timezone of the PC and the timezone for where you want the predictions for and it defaults to the east coast of the USA). We now have results that match those that Lindsay produces and match the Python software.

We've mapped out a set of upcoming Io-B events that are forecast and have requested to book the cabin for them. Next two we hope to observe in July are:

  • Tuesday 10th - 7:30pm to 9:30pm
  • Tuesday 17th - 8pm to 11pm

We also confirmed that neither the new NBN satellite link nor other equipment in the cabin seems to cause interference with the Radio Jove receivers.

Hope to see people next Sunday!

All the best,


Thursday 28th June 2018 7:30pm-9pm - First Radio Jove Observing Run!

FIRST RADIO JOVE OBSERVING RUN!  Thursday 28th June 7:30pm-9pm.

The predictions for the most easily detectable (and allegedly most reliable) Jupiter radio emissions called "Io B" are for the evening of 28th June and so we will be trying the Radio Jove receivers for real.  This run also overlaps with forecast "C" emissions.   The window of opportunity runs from around 7:30pm our time through to 9pm and so we'll meet from around 7pm to get set up and (hopefully) recording for then.

This is a bit of a milestone for RAG, our first attempt to do observations!


Sunday 10th June 2018 - Radio Astronomy Group Meeting

Hi MBO folks interested in radio astronomy!

NEXT MEETING: 10am 10th June at MBO.

The MBO Radio Astronomy Group (RAG) met on Sunday 13th May and worked  on trying to understand more about the 21cm receiver equipment we have and how exactly it works, and also to work on the radio jove project.

With the 21cm equipment we looked at the circuit diagrams and how the output from the receiver we have been using appears to come out before the interferometer stage.  The exact functioning of the interferometer stage itself is unclear, it does not appear to be tunable and so how it adapts to the red-shift of galactic sources is unclear. It has two outputs, a signal level and a phase angle.

With the radio jove project we now have two separate Jupiter emission software packages, one being the software for Windows that the Radio Jove people at NASA recommend and a more useful cross-platform script written in Python which, after reporting a bug with, produces results which correlate with the Windows package.

We also now have a better understanding of the emissions from Jupiter itself, there are at least 7 different types and it is one particular type associated with the moon Io which has the strongest signal.  The
condition of the Earths atmosphere also plays a large part in how easy it is to receive these signals.

It is also apparent that we need to do continuous monitoring of these signals to have a chance to detecting them, it is not enough to just turn it on and listen "just in case".  So we will need to acquire a USB audio interface for the Raspberry Pi 3 to fulfill this function.

Finally we have a new project to work on, we want to build and install magnetometers at MBO!  This is to monitor changes to the Earths magnetic field in response to geomagnetic storms.  It should also detect cars arriving and leaving, but they will have a very different type of signal.

Look forward to seeing people at the next meeting on 10th June!

All the best,