SARA 2021 Eastern Conference Abstracts


SARA 2021 Eastern Conference Abstracts


Sorted by Author




Title: An Interstellar Communication Method: System Design and Observations


Author:  Skip Crilly


Abstract: A system of synchronized radio telescopes is utilized to search for hypothetical wide bandwidth interstellar communications signals. Transmitted signals are hypothesized to have characteristics that enable high channel capacity and minimally low energy per information bit, while containing energy-efficient signal elements that are really discoverable, distinct from random noise. A hypothesized transmitter signal is described. Signal reception and discovery processes are detailed. Observations using individual and multiple synchronized radio telescopes, during 2017-2021, are described. Conclusions and further work are suggested.




Title: Adapting PRESTO Pulsar Validation Techniques for Amateurs


Author: Peter W. East


Abstract: PRESTO, the professional pulsar search and analysis software, is now the package of choice for most amateurs detecting and studying pulsars. PRESTO analysis tools examine pulsar data, first reducing the effects of radio frequency interference (RFI) and, after further processing, outputs an image containing a number of sub-plots. These sub-plots analyze various pulsar-specific identifying characteristics which together can provide convincing evidence of a wanted pulsar presence. This paper investigates validation issues for the weaker pulsar intercepts with an integrated/folded signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) below 10:1. These are not clearly highlighted by the efficient statistical processes in PRESTO, that were essentially designed for large dishes to speedily detect strong new pulsars in a low RFI environment. Here it is shown that, for keen amateurs prepared to examine data in more detail, the recognition features in the PRESTO prepfold output plot can be made more discriminatory by replacing the Chi-square amplitude statistic with an SNR measure. By this means, positive intercept can be confirmed much more confidently for the weaker pulsar data records; this is illustrated with a PRESTO-inspired image but using the SNR statistic on a B0329+54 data file with an integrated SNR of less than 5:1.




Title: HamSCI Personal Space Weather Station: Architecture, Early Observations, and Applications to Radio Astronomy (Invited)


Author: Nathaniel A. Frissell (The University of Scranton)


Abstract: The ionosphere, an ionized region of the atmosphere from approximately 80 to 600 km altitude, significantly impacts radio astronomy, communications, and navigation applications. Understanding ionospheric structure, dynamics, and the current ionospheric state will not only benefit these technological applications, but also improve understanding of the larger, coupled geospace system. Although existing ionospheric instrumentation provides excellent measurements of this region, the ionosphere remains highly variable, undersampled, and not well understood. To address this, the Ham Radio Science Citizen Investigation (HamSCI), is leading the development of a new Personal Space Weather Station (PSWS). The PSWS is a modular, multi-instrument, ground-based system that will allow professional and citizen scientists alike to make measurements of ionospheric and geomagnetic conditions and contribute those observations to a central, open access database. PSWS system instrumentation includes radio receivers sensitive to frequencies ranging from very low frequency (VLF) through very high frequency (VHF), a Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) receiver to provide Total Electron Content (GNSS TEC) measurements and serve as a precision time and frequency reference, and a ground magnetometer sensitive to ionospheric and geospace currents. Early results from prototype systems will be shown, and possible applications to radio astronomy will be discussed.




Title: Introduction to Radio Astronomy


Author: Ed Harfmann


Abstract: Radio astronomy allows us to tune into the universe.  This has allowed us to over double our knowledge of the universe.  This introduction is a brief overview of where astronomy and radio astronomy started and are currently going.  We also peek into the world of both the amateur and professional radio astronomer.




Title:  LoFASM Data Analysis Tools Running Under Windows Subsystem for Linux, a How-To Guide




Author: Tom Hagen




Abstract: This presentation will guide users through the installation of the LoFASM Linux tools from the LoFASM GitHub site onto a Windows 10 PC running Windows Subsystem for Linux.  The Low Frequency All Sky Monitor (LoFASM) is a phased dipole antenna array designed to monitor the skies for radio transients. LoFASM's band of interest is 5-88MHz. LoFASM was built and designed by a group of students and their professor at the University of Texas at Brownsville.




Title: Fast Radio Burst Observation at Astropeiler Stockert


Author: Dr. Wolfgang Hermann


Abstract - In April 2021 a very bright Fast Radio Burst (FRB) from the repeating FRB 20201124A has been observed with the 25-m dish of the Astropeiler Stockert observatory. This is the culmination of an effort which started in 2018.


The talk will give a summary of the FRB observations worldwide. While the nature of FRBs is still unknown, certain patterns have emerged which will be presented.


The specific observation will be described, including the instrumentation and tools used at Astropeiler for FRB discovery. It will be explained how the calibration is performed and how the flux and fluences of the observed event have been derived.


It will be discussed what conclusions can be drawn from this observation and how this FRB event fits into the overall picture.




Title: Solar Dynamics Observatory Wolf numbers and EOST magnetometer aa index Flux


Authors: Rodney Howe and Mark Heiple


Abstract: Exploratory Data Analysis (EDA) is used for two different daily data types; the first from EOST, Strasbourg, France geomagnetic EOST aa index. The second dataset from the AAVSO solar database of Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) group, sunspot and Wolf numbers (supplied by Jan Alvestad (Solen) We look at EDA of Strasbourg, France (aa index) geomagnetic magnetometer, and compare those data with AAVSO SDO Wolf numbers for North and South hemispheres and Wolf numbers of the sun from January 2012 through November 2018 the start of cycle 25 solar minimum. The aa index daily data show how these data sets differ with FD (Freedman-Diaconis) plots. The following table shows the top periods from TSA: periodogram. The highest power period is 2560, which is 7 years. Sunspot activity with the solar rotations is assumed to be on 27.25-day cycles, however, the closest period that matches this is 29, or 0.1 years. Although this is significantly lower power.


Strongest Solar Rotation Periods



















Title: Hunting for Runaways from the Hyades, Pleiades and Alpha Perseus Open Clusters (and other interesting Gaia Data Analyses)


Author: Kevin McManus


Abstract: Stars tend to form spatially in clusters and temporally in bursts in large molecular clouds. What we observe today in the Hyades, Pleiades and Alpha Perseus are stars that are roughly the same age and are moving roughly together. However, what we observe today is not necessarily the situation as it was 10’s or 100’s of mega-years ago.  Some of the high mass stars have reached their end states. Lower-mass stars, while still on the main sequence may have been ejected from the cluster through gravitational interactions and no longer share the motion of the parent cluster.  It is these stars that we call runaways.


The Gaia Satellite from the European Space Agency produces a catalog of some 1.3 billion objects with precise measurements of position, motion and photometry.  We will use Gaia data to trace stars backward in time to see if their positions in space are coincide with that of the cluster. We’ll verify that their placement on a color-magnitude diagram (Hertzsprung-Russel diagram) is consistent with the cluster’s main sequence.  Along the way, we’ll show methodology for stars with similar motions and estimate the total mass of clusters with known members.




Title:  MURMUR The signals from the pulsars are very very very weak ….The pulsars are  almost murmuring ... MURMUR




Author: Mario Natalio




Abstract:  MURMUR is a multipurpose program to evaluate the characteristics of a radio telescope. Resolving the radiometer equation and using latest data from ATNF Pulsar catalogue the program is able to assess with great accuracy the possibility to detect Pulsars.




The program performs also many other useful functions to support amateur radioastronomy such as the prediction of Sun noise ( Y-factor ) interpolating in real time the sun flux data provided from NOAA.




MURMUR shows also in real time the position ( Az El ) of all the Pulsars reported in the ATNF catalogue and, working in conjunction with the tracking program PstRotator,  can drive directly  antennas allowing data recording.




All MURMUR functions will be extensively illustrated and also results will be shown.




Title: The Care and Feeding of Small Dishes




Author: Charles Osborne




Abstract: A brief beginner's look at how to decide where to place a dish starting with finding due South with the Sun. We will talk about astronomy programs, dish beam width, finding focus, gauging performance, tricks for checking/optimizing noise figure and G/T of the system.




Title: An Active E-Field Antenna for 15 to 40 MHz Radio Astronomy




Author: Bruce Randall NT4RT




Abstract: An active antenna has a collecting area that is small in wavelengths for the frequency involved and uses an amplifier that is part of the antenna itself to get usable signal levels.  Below 50MHz the galactic background and other background noises are high enough that an inefficient, physically small, active antenna is a viable option. Because the receive preamp is an integral part of the antenna structure, these antennas are not usable for transmitting applications.




First a historical study is done on existing designs from 1970 to the present.  Possible designs are evaluated using EZNEC™ and LTspice™ to evaluate the possibilities. Both the antenna element and the associated amplifier have critical issues to be explored with both software tools and actual construction.




A test antenna is under construction to verify the results of the computer modeling.  Test results are planned for the conference.




A pair of these active antennas is visualized as a possible antenna system in place of the dual dipoles used for Radio Jove. 




Title: HF Meteor Trail Reflections Observed at Anchorage, Alaska USA


Author: Whitham D. Reeve


Abstract: Many interesting phenomena can be observed in the high frequency radio band including meteor trail reflections, radio blackouts, sudden frequency deviations, aurora reflections, aircraft reflections, and propagation anomalies due to ionospheric patches and blobs. Detections of all these phenomena at Anchorage involve a terrestrial transmitter and terrestrial receiver separated by a distance great enough to result in sky wave propagation between them.


This paper focuses on meteor trail reflections, which also are known by other the names meteor echoes, meteor scatter, meteor propagation and radio meteors. The transmissions originate at the WWV and WWVH time-frequency stations approximately 4000 km away, are reflected by the ionized trails left by tiny meteors as they vaporize in Earth’s upper atmosphere and are detected by a receiver at Anchorage.


Included in this paper are a brief overview of the concepts that underly the observations of meteor trail reflections, considerations for observations, instrumentation used to receive the reflections at Anchorage, a selection of spectrum images from 2020 showing meteor trail reflections, conclusions, and references and weblinks.




Title: Black Hole Resolution Calculations for Large Radio Astronomy Interferometers


Author: Richard A. Russel


Abstract: The imaging of the M87 black hole by the event horizon team was a triumph in science. This paper analyses the resolution calculation for the Greenbank telescope (GBT), the Very Large Array (VLA), the Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA), the Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA), European Very Long Baseline Array (EVLBA) and the event horizon telescope (EHT). The calculated resolutions are compared with current black hole observations from each array.




Title: Comparing Deep Space and Ionospheric Scintillations at The University of Scranton


Authors: M. Shaaf Sarwar (1), Simal Sami (1), Mary Lou West (2), Robert Spalletta (1), Nathaniel Frissell (1), Josemaria Gomez (3), and Fabiano Rodrigues (3)


(1) The University of Scranton (2) Montclair State University (3)The University of Texas at Dallas




Abstract: The Earth’s ionosphere is a dynamic and highly variable ionized region of the upper atmosphere that all deep space radio signals must pass through. In an effort to better understand the impact of the ionospheric variability on radio astronomy measurements, we compare observations from the University of Scranton Spectracyber 1420 MHz radio telescope using a 3-meter parabolic dish antenna with measurements made by a co-located ScintPi 3.0 ionospheric scintillation monitor. ScintPi 3.0 was developed at the University of Texas at Dallas and is capable of making measurements of scintillations on Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) signals at L-Band (~1.2 and ~1.6 GHz) frequencies. It can also estimate the ionospheric Total Electron Content (TEC). Recent observations will be presented and discussed.




Title: Analytical Section Meeting: Demo, Masers, & W3 Radio Mapping


Author: Steve Tsikas


Abstract: 20m project updates; 20m dish demo; maser observing and 20m maser examples