Update 5/28/15 : Radio Jove


Radio Jove                     – Martin J Pepe (MjpAstro@aol.com)

Most people think they have to have a 50 foot dish in the backyard to do any Radio Astronomy. It just ain’t so!! Besides getting on your wife’s short list for casting a large dark shadow over her petunias, with the way things are these days, you might even get a visit or two from ‘Uncle ‘Sam’.

Everyone has seen colorful visual pictures from Hubble of deep space Galaxies. But many don’t realize that deep sky objects have strong RF emissions, as well. Even some objects in our own Solar System give off radio waves in various frequency bands. The Sun and Jupiter are two of those objects in particular.

You may have seen or heard of articles about the ongoing Solar RT project which is a Solar RF Spectrograph to study sunspots, presently being built for the ASRAS astronomy club (site in Ionia, NY). It covers 50 – 890 MHz. This is a senior design project at RIT and it is progressing nicely. Look for a demo at RIT Imagine this May (2015).

Another stout RF emitter is the planet Jupiter (see NASA Radio Jove, below). The radio noise storms of interest can be heard from about 15 MHz up to a practical limit of about 38 MHz, the consensus seems to be that 18 MHz up to about 28 MHz is a good place to listen. Many ‘hams’ have inadvertently heard this, and assumed it was just background noise & hiss (links, below).

The very conditions that cause the ionosphere to get charged and yield good Aurora & ‘DX bounce’ at times, are one’s that ‘shield’ us from hearing these signals. When the aurora is good, the Jupiter signals are usually rather weak, since they can’t penetrate the same strong ionospheric ‘shell’ that surrounds the Earth. Conversely, when the aurora is bad the Radio Jove signals can be good, they can actually complement regular Northern Light observation & Ham Radio operation.

The RF generator of these signals is an interaction of some of Jupiter’s Moons (typically IO), and the planet’s strong magnetic fields. These signals can be directional, and don’t always point at the Earth.

A simple direct conversion receiver and external antenna for the above band(s) can be used to monitor these signals  We’ve been gifted a NASA Radio Jove receiver kit from the Buffalo Astronomy group, and are in search of a high school or college student willing to assemble it under the mentorship of an experienced ham radio operator. Know of someone interested, drop me an email note or give me a call.


For further reading check out some of the following links;

·         Radio Jupiter Central – http://www.radiosky.com/rjcentral.html

·         NASA Radio Jove – http://radiojove.gsfc.nasa.gov/library/newsletters/toc.htm

·         SARA Radio Jupiter – http://www.radio-astronomy.org/pdf/qex/radio-jove-proof.pdf

·         Interested?   Martin Pepe (585) 298-0246 (c) or email @ mjpastro@gmail.com.

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