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Starting Radio Astronomy

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I was intrigued by a description of Jeff Lashley's "The Radio Sky" in Sky at Night magazine, particularly the practical experiments described and being a bit of a wannabe tinkerer, I bought a copy and in a fit of enthusiasm, devoured the first couple of chapters, until life got in the way and it has sat on the shelf ever since, occasionally being picked up and leafed through before being put back on the shelf. So, this year is the solar maximum, and being once again enthused by the photos of the first class-X CMEs, and in equal part frustrated by the weather putting paid to any more conventional optical astronomy, "The Radio Sky" has found itself once more on my bed side table. I thought, this time I would write this blog as both a record of my tinkerings and as motivation to actually finish what I started.

The first experiment in the book is a VLF solar flare monitor consisting of a simple loop antenna connected to the audio input of a laptop, which seems like a reasonable challenge for the budding Radio Astronomer, therefore I am hoping my next entry will a bit more about the design and construction of the antenna.


I have down loaded Spectrum Labs amateur radio software, which for a free download, seems to have quite a bit of functionality. So far I have only captured the noise from my laptop from the unconnected audio socket, but it displays the frequency spectrum and waterfall plots. I think the complicated bit is going to be separating the wheat from the chaff and identifying a true event.


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Take pictures!

I've been thinking of doing the same thing as I'm finding it hard to squeeze in optical time (on the rare chance that it's clear). What software do/are you going to use to collect the data?

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