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Not Just Light Pollution

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I found this article in an electronics trade publication.

Britain’s Most Famous Observatory at Risk

(May 17, 2016) Britain’s most famous observatory, Jodrell Bank, is currently at risk from a proposed housing estate two miles from the site. Observatory experts claim appliances, lighting, and other electronic products, will play havoc with their instruments.

As a radio telescope, it is highly susceptible to levels of interference produced by electrical appliances – indeed the observatory was set up in rural Cheshire by scientists from Manchester University because the city’s trams proved too disruptive.

Jodrell Bank director Prof. Simon Garrington said in a submission to the council, “Interference is correlated with human activity, whether due to intentional transmissions or unintentional leakage from a wide range of electrical and electronic devices. The proposed development itself is likely to generate interference which exceeds the internationally agreed threshold for what constitutes “detrimental interference” to radio astronomy observations.”

According to BBC.com, appliances with electric motors such as lawn mowers, hedge trimmers, power tools, and washing machines are regarded as particularly problematic, while tiny amounts of radiation from microwave ovens can also drown out the scientists’ observations.

Associate director Prof. Tim O’Brien said, “The electrical and electronic devices in houses can produce radio waves that basically mask our view of the distant universe. This is one of the world’s most powerful and sensitive telescopes and these sort of signals are basically wiping out the data that we’re picking up. It’s already difficult for us, this is only going to make things worse.”

Jodrell Bank has already had to stop searching for new pulsars due to the existing level of interference, which it says has been proven to come from nearby houses, rather than cities such as Manchester.

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Very frustrating. Here in the Netherlands there is a huge fight going on because the minister wants to put up a wind farm close to the central part of the massive LOFAR phased array radio telescope (which spans several countries in Europe). Some (British) engineering firm was asked to estimate the degree of interference and they blandly stated that there was no problem because the wind farm would "only" double the existing interference. Even worse, there is a city some distance to the south, where they would like to have a wind farm, which would not interfere with LOFAR, but the (same) minister won't give permission for that.

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Why would any minister listen to any scientist?

Progress, Progress, Progress, at any cost. As long as it does not happen in their back gardens. Towns that are expanding in the Atacama desert are causing light pollution for various observatories over there but they do not care, because of Progress! Our politicians only pay "lip Service " to complaints as it would affect their agenda for Progress.

Probably in another 50 years or so the only astronomy done will be from space based telescopes. That is unless the space junk destroys them all first.

Any way I won't be here to see it!


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