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 Pulsar observations and HI Line observations .

Current Project: Daily Observations of the Vela Pulsar

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 pulsar detections.  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 5 years) and, after 20 months of daily observations of the Vela Pulsar, on the 1st February, 2019, the HawkRAO system detected a 'glitch' in the Vela pulsar. (refer to ATel # 12466)

The ~2.5 ppm jump in spin frequency is clearly shown in the 'Glitch Monitor Panel' graphic on the right.

Go here (Vela Pulsar Daily Observations) for further details.

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.

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

Go here (Neutron Star Group) for further details.

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.

Go here (Extra-Galactic HI Line Observations) for further details.

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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