This was one of our special Imaging & Observing Group meetings with guests. In this meeting, we had 2 special guests, both from the British Astronomical Association (BAA), Radio Astronomy Section and both trustees of the UK Radio Astronomy Association (UKRAA) – Paul Hearn and Andrew Thomas.
The meeting was started by Neil Martin, our usual IOG host, who presented the agenda. A couple of first joiners introduced themselves. Afterwards, Radim Stano shortly introduced the guests and gave the word to our speakers.
After a short introduction, Andrew presented us with a brief history of radio astronomy, especially notable is that the first real radio astronomer was an amateur and the first director of Jodrell Bank Radio Telescope, Sir Bernard Lovell, who was awarded the Lorimer Medal in 1963 by the ASE.
The next section was Cosmic rays and muon detectors, in which Paul familiarize us with the cosmic ray and muons, how to detect them, and how to get or build the receivers called CosmicWatch. He explored the data one can get and explore with these receivers. He also told us about the future plans for the project.
Important resources: http://www.cosmicwatch.lns.mit.edu/ and https://github.com/spenceraxani/CosmicWatch-Desktop-Muon-Detector-v2
Andrew spoke about the Ionosphere and the sudden ionosphere disturbances and the theory of very low-frequency radio signals, which he accompanied by the description of the devices he uses to detect these SIDs at his home. It was a very thorough explanation of the hardware, software, data storage and how to correlate them with other publicly available data, for example, from NASA. At the end of this section, Andrew showed us what great projects for amateurs are available, e.g. how to observe Sun, Meteors, Jupiter or Galactic Hydrogen.
Important resources: https://astropeiler.de/
The last part from our guests was a brief introduction to Meteors and the new UK beacon, that can be used in Edinburgh to observe meteors over the UK in radio spectra. The UK beacon is operated by amateurs, by the societies like ours.
Important resources: https://ukmeteorbeacon.org/Home
Graham Rule informed us in the chat: “In the early 1970s the ASE had a “Radio Astronomy” section. Crossed Yagi antenna with elevator and rotator was in the observatory grounds. The only use I remember making of it was to hear weather satellites.”
The end of the meeting belonged to the Flickr tour done by Ian Smith. Before the closure of the meeting, we thanked Paul and Andrew.
Banner image from: http://www.cosmicwatch.lns.mit.edu/