Hawkesbury Radio Astronomy Observatory

HawkRAO - Sydney, NSW, Australia


Introduction

Radio astronomy is the perfect combination of my long-standing interests in radio and astronomy.  Even after more than the half-a-century since my first crystal set, radio is still like magic to me.  Add to that the wondrous objects which can be observed in the cosmic realm and perhaps my constant fascination with radio astronomy should be regarded as not so "unusual".

This website provides some details of various projects related to radio astronomy engaged in at HawkRAO, including HI Line observations and Pulsar observations.

Past Project: Extra-Galactic HI Line Observations

Signals from neutral hydrogen can be received from any direction in space due to its abundance within our own home galaxy. Doing so entails a moderate level of difficulty. An extra step in difficulty is encountered when attempting to receive HI signals from other galaxies.

This project deals with receiving signals from two external galaxies - the Small and Large Magellanic clouds.

Use the 'HI Line Observations' navigation button above to view the HI line project (opens in a new window).

Current Project: Pulsar Detection

Attempting to detect signals from rotating neutron stars is a challenging pursuit. The prospect of detecting signals from such fantastic objects provides the motivation to embark on the hunt for pulsars.  There are a number of pulsars within the reach of capable citizen scientists with antenna sizes providing apertures equivalent to parabolic dishes of 3 to 10 metres in diameter.

I have engaged in this pursuit for a number of years (more than 4 years), but remained unsuccessful until now (May 2017).  I have had many results in the past which appeared to be a possible detection, but failed the repeatability criterion.  Results have been variable due to high levels of radio frequency interference (RFI) present at this location - further degraded by access to only a small patch of sky through the vegetation which covers the site.

As of April 2017 I embarked on yet another attempt to receive signals from the Vela pulsar at the frequency of 436 MHz at HawkRAO.

This time I was successful !!!

Use the 'Pulsar Observations' navigation button above to view the pulsar project (opens in a new window).

Neutron Star Group

There are a number of citizen scientists who have achieved success at detecting pulsars.  I maintain a website which lists details about those citizen scientists, as well as discussing the challenges for such success.  These details and information can be found here...

Neutron Star Group

This website is designed to encourage others to engage in the exciting and challenging exercise of pulsar detection.

Possible Future Project: Ku Band Radio Astronomy

Due to the ready availability of Satellite TV components, assembling a radio astronomy telescope around the frequency of 10 GHz to 12 GHz is relatively easy.  While the extra-terrestrial objects observable with such a system are generally limited to the Sun and Moon, basic radio astronomy principles can be clearly demonstrated.

A future project could investigate whether this short list of observable objects can be expanded.

Background

Some 25 years ago I did a small project in radio astronomy which involved interferometry of the Sun.  Due to retirement of the old PCs where data was stored, the only remaining details of this activity are as shown below...

A simple result - nonetheless the catalyst for an ongoing fascination with things cosmic...


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