2023 SARA Eastern Conference

2023 SARA Eastern Conference


Global Radio Astronomy Symposium

Green Bank Observatory
Green Bank, West Virginia, 2023

20-22 August 2023


The 2023 SARA Eastern Conference and Global Radio Astronomy Symposium will be held at the Green Bank Observatory, West Virginia, Sunday through Tuesday, 20-22 August 2023.  The conference will also be available as a fully interactive online event.


SARA has traditionally held our Eastern Conferences at GBO, and we are very pleased to return following a two-year hiatus due to COVID.


With radio astronomy as its foundation, the Green Bank Observatory (GBO) is a world leader in advancing research, innovation, and education.


 The first trailblazers of American radio astronomy called Green Bank Observatory home over 60 years ago. Today, their legacy is alive and well. Nestled in the mountain ranges and farmland of West Virginia, within the National Quiet Zone, radio astronomers are listening to the remote whispers of the universe, in order to discover answers to our most astounding astronomical questions.





Schedule: Conference meetings will be held in the main auditorium of the Jansky Laboratory at Green Bank Observatory with presentations by SARA members, GBO staff and distinguished speakers.  Security and COVID restrictions permitting, tours of the facility, radio telescopes and laboratories will be conducted. Certain locations are open only to U.S. citizens who submit for a security review two weeks prior; however, other areas will be open to all attendees.   Fully interactive online participation will be available for those who cannot attend in person.

 Key advantages of in-person attendance are training and hands-on use of the historical 40-foot radio telescope as well as user tutorial on the 20 Meter radio telescope. 

 Sunday through Tuesday evenings, round table discussions and refreshments are scheduled in the Drake’s Lounge, and there will be space outside for attendees to set up and display their own portable radio astronomy systems and optical telescopes.

 Meals in the GBO cafeteria are included in the registration fee for in-person attendees.

 Virtual online sessions are available for those who cannot attend in person.

 Lodging is not included in the conference registration fee.  A cabin and RV/camping sites are available at the nearby Boyer Station Motel and Campground. Call 1.304.456.4667 to inquire. The Elk Springs Resort is about 12 miles away. The  Snowshoe Mountain area has several options.  Please go to https://www.snowshoemtn.com/plan-your-trip/lodging .Numerous VRBO / Airbnb properties and private rentals are nearby.  A list of many properties is at https://pocahontascountywv.com/lodging/ . Many chain accommodations are located about 30 miles away in Elkins, but that drive takes at least an hour due to mountainous roads. (A few on-site dormitory rooms may become available for conference presenters and SARA officers, but additional rooms for other conference attendees are not expected.)

 Registration: Registration for in-person attendance by SARA members at the Conference is $275.00 (USD) if received by July 20, 2023, which includes meals but not lodging. The fee for family members or other guests who do not participate in conference sessions is $75.00, which includes meals and evening activities. Registration by July 20th for non-members is $295.00, which includes a year’s membership in SARA. SARA members wishing to renew their membership at the same time as they register may also pay $295 and should include a renewal comment with their payment. 

 Late registration after July 20, 2023, is $325.00. Walk-in registration at the conference is $350.00.

 Payment can be made through PayPal, www.paypal.com by sending payment to treasurer@radioastronomy.org Please include in comments that the payment is for the 2023 Eastern Conference. 


Registration is also available on the SARA Store at these links:


On-Site Participation   or   Online Participation




Keynote Address: Dr. James M. Jackson


Dr. Jackson has served as Director of Green Bank Observatory since 2021.  Previously, he served as Associate Director for Research for the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) with the Universities Space Research Association (USRA). Dr. Jackson has also led administration and research in astronomy and astrophysics for the University of Newcastle (Australia) and Boston University and served as Assistant Director for the Center for Astrophysical Research in Antarctica. He has co-authored 148 journal articles, with over 12,000 total citations.


Dr. James M. Jackson, Director of Green Bank Observatory

 Dr. Jackson is widely recognized for his research into star formation, galactic processes and the study of deep-space molecular emissions.  He has published extensive research on the observation and analysis of molecular clouds and has done in-depth study of the Milky Way’s Central Molecular Cloud Zone.

 At ALMA, he was part of a distinguished research team that investigated G0.253+0.016, aka 'the Brick', one of the most massive (> 10^5 Msun) and dense (> 10^4 cm-3) molecular clouds in the Milky Way's Central Molecular Zone. Previous observations had detected tentative signs of active star formation, most notably a water maser that is associated with a dust continuum source. His team reported unambiguous evidence of active star formation within G0.253+0.016. They concluded that the sources are young and rapidly accreting, and may potentially form intermediate and high-mass stars in the future. The masses and projected spatial distribution of the cores are generally consistent with thermal fragmentation, suggesting that the large-scale turbulence and strong magnetic field in the cloud do not dominate on these scales, and that star formation on the scale of individual protostars is similar to that in Galactic disc environments.

 His Boston University lectures on “Fundamentals of Radio Astronomy” provide a foundation for understanding principles of antenna design and signal analysis. Of particular relevance is his explanations of beam patterns, directivity, gain, effective area, antenna temperature and sources of side lobes.

 In his keynote address, Dr. Jackson will outline exciting new projects and research strategies now being undertaken at Green Bank and discuss long-term opportunities for the observatory.


Featured Presentations


Dr. Wolfgang Herrmann

President, Astropeiler Stockert, e.V., Germany


 Dr. Herrmann’s presentation will be on practical considerations for building small and medium-sized radio telescopes.

 In recent years, the team at Astropeiler Stockert has been building and commissioning several radio telescopes varying in diameter from 3.2 meters to 1.2 meter. These are used mainly as instruments for lab courses and are designed to cover L-band to allow observation of hydrogen emission. The talk will cover the approach taken for each of these instruments for mount, feed horn, LNA and backend. Also, software designs will be discussed as well as performance parameters achieved for each design.

 Dr. Herrmann received his PhD from the University of Bonn, where his thesis investigated laser spectroscopy, which was also the subject of his subsequent work at the IBM research labs in Zurich and the GKSS research center in Hamburg. He moved on to work in the telecommunication industry where he served as member of the board of a company that developed and produced advanced communication systems. Afterwards, he founded his own successful consulting company that supported major telecommunication carriers in the implementation of specialized radio and fixed line communication networks for the railway and aviation industry as well as high security networks for public administrations.

 Currently, Dr. Herrmann serves as president of the Astropeiler Stockert group which operates one of the world’s largest radio telescopes available to amateurs.



Dr. Thankful Cromartie

Einstein Research Fellow

Cornell University



Dr. Cromartie will discuss Nanohertz Observation of Gravitational Waves

Dr. Cromartie received her Ph.D. in Astronomy from the University of Virginia.  Her research focuses on the study of fundamental physics using a class of exotic, rapidly rotating neutron stars called millisecond pulsars (MSPs). She is a full member of the North American Nanohertz Observatory for Gravitational Waves (NANOGrav) collaboration, which uses MSPs in the attempt to detect low-frequency gravitational waves from supermassive black holes.

 In addition to NANOGrav-related work, she uses a relativistic effect called Shapiro delay to precisely measure MSP masses in order to improve our understanding of the physics at play in their ultra-dense interiors. During her time in graduate school, she observed for more than 300 hours using radio telescopes at the Green Bank and Arecibo observatories.



Symposium Presentations


Introduction to Radio Astronomy

Ed Harfmann


The Sunday afternoon workshop session begins with an engaging and highly interactive presentation on the fundamentals of radio astronomy.  Ed’s presentation gives beginners all they need to know to get started yet will be informative to those who have spent years working in the field.  This is both a “why to do it” and “how to do it” session.

 Ed brings shares years of professional experience as he inspires and guides beginners and old-hands alike.



Hints and Kinks for Radio Astronomy

Charles Osborne

Immediately following the introductory session, Charles presents helpful guidance on how to set up and operate amateur radio telescopes with a view to avoiding the pitfalls which have frustrated many.  Charles has managed large radio telescope research facilities and has designed and built his own amateur radio telescope systems at home, so his insight and advice can benefit everyone in the field.



40-Foot Radio Telescope Introduction and Operation

Hands-On Training and Workshop

Skip Crilly


For decades, the famous 40-foot radio telescope at GBO has been an important research and teaching instrument.  Skip Crilly is one of the key volunteers at GBO responsible for maintaining this telescope and training others in its use.  After a brief classroom introduction, Skip will move the session to the telescope control room where he will demonstrate how everything works before guiding the group as they learn to operate the telescope and interpret the data that is collected. 



Twenty Meter Radio Telescope Introduction and Demonstration

Steve Tzikas


SARA has a user agreement with GBO which allows SARA members to remotely access and control the 20 Meter Radio Telescope. Certain security restrictions apply, but this telescope allows SARA members to conduct individual projects.  Steve will cover:


·         20m Project Updates

·         20m Dish Demo

·         20m Useful Comments

·         Raster Scans and Considerations

·         20m Observing Podcasts

·         How to register and use the instrument



Easy Radio Astronomy


Radio Astronomy Team, Little Thompson Observatory

Berthoud, Colorado


The software suite called ezRA (easy radio astronomy) is a free and easy way to get started in amateur radio astronomy.  Ted Cline, N0RQV, developed this software and is a regular participant in SARA’s online Drake’s Lounge, where he is happy to answer questions and provide assistance.

Within minutes of powering on the system, an ezRA user can tell if her antenna is receiving HI (neutral Hydrogen emissions on 1420 MHz).  Within a day, she may see the pattern of the Milky Way crossing overhead and verify antenna pointing accuracy and stability.

From a beginner’s standpoint, it would be hard to make one’s entry into radio astronomy easier.

As one gets more experienced with the software, ezRA has advanced features that allow researchers to plot complex galactic motions, structures, and anomalies.

The beauty of ezRA’s graphics is dramatic and encouraging, even for a beginner in their first days.




ezRA sky map made on the first day by students with $5 antenna and $80 receiver



STEMSAT-1 Project Update

Dr. J. Wayne McCain, Athens State University


STEMSAT-1 (formerly known as SARA-SAT1) is manifested for launch late fourth quarter 2023 on a Vaya Space hybrid rocket from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station along with another commercial satellite.

First announced at the 2017 Western Conference, the primary objective of this 3U cubesat is to involve students from kindergarten through college level in various aspects of designing, building, launch, and mission control of the satellite as a STEM learning activity. The secondary scientific mission is to monitor VLF (50-200 KHz range) radio signals that won't otherwise penetrate the Earth's atmosphere and translate that data to a UHF, 430 MHz that is transmitted to ground stations world-wide. This paper will update the progress on STEMSAT including the project's collaboration with SARA and opportunities for global amateur radio astronomy participation and ground station support.



Modeling a Three-Element Interferometer System

Dr. Richard Russel


Dr. Russel presents a method for modeling interferometer systems which may be useful for planning small to medium-size systems and explains how this method can be applied.

Dr. Rich Russel is SARA president and science lead for the Deep Space Exploration Society. He is a retired Northrop Grumman Senior Systems Engineer and served as the Chief Architect for the Satellite Control Network Contract (SCNC). In this capacity he was charged with planning the future architecture of the Air Force Satellite Control Network (AFSCN) and extending the vision to the Integrated Satellite Control Network (ISCN). Dr. Russel has been the lead architect and integrator for the Space-Based Blue Force Tracking project for U.S Space Command, the Center for Y2K Strategic Stability, and CUBEL Peterson. Dr. Russel also has led the SPAWAR Factory team in the deployment of the UHF Follow-On Satellite system. He has a Doctorate in Computer Science, an Engineers Degree in Aeronautics and Astronautics, a Master’s in Astronautical Engineering, and a Bachelor’s in Electrical Engineering. He is also certified as a Navy Nuclear Engineer and he is a retired Navy nuclear fast attack submariner and Navy Space Systems Engineer.


Antenna Arrays in Interstellar Communication

Skip Crilly


A hypothesis has been proposed and tested suggesting that interstellar communication signals might contain pairs of close frequency/time-spaced narrow bandwidth pulses. In addition to detectability, an important requirement in interstellar communication systems is the measurement of angle of signal arrival. Phased array receiving antennas, and interferometry, provide a method to make and calibrate these measurements, and to reduce confounding radio interference.

A twelve-element phased array system is under construction to search for hypothesized pulsed signals, anomalous given an RFI-augmented random noise model. This presentation will summarize the presenter’s past multi-telescope observations and reports, describe the phased array radio telescope system under construction, explain reasoning behind the experimental methods, and seek ideas from conference attendees.

Skip presents both theoretical and practical approaches to radio astronomers interested in searching for evaluating signals that might indicate interstellar communications.



The Big Problem with Little c

B.J. Wilson, Little Thompson Observatory


Almost every calculation in astrophysics depends on an accurate determination of the speed of light, or “c.”  The problem is that the one-way speed of light has never been measured, and many theorize that it can never be measured by any means.

The importance of this issue was raised during a recent SARA conference when a high school STEM student in the audience asked our speaker, Nobel Laureate Dr. John C. Mather, challenging questions about distance to the source of cosmic microwave background radiation and whether conventional assumptions regarding the one-way speed of light in space could be defended scientifically. If, for instance, the one-way speed of light approached infinity, could the entire universe indeed be younger than 6,000 years?  Without any reliable measurement of the one-way speed of light in space, the student asked, how could such a contrarian hypothesis of the universe be discounted?

This paper discusses the problem and  proposes a global scientific initiative to find a method to definitively measure the one-way speed of light in deep space. The proposed mechanism is a “Reber Device.” 



Field Measurements and Front End Electronics for LWA Antennas

Whitham D. Reeve


 Whit’s presentation covers field measurements taken in New Mexico on the Long Wavelength Array system and provides technical and operational details for front end electronics.




What Green Bank Observatory Visitors Need to Know

COVID Restrictions.  GBO reserves the right to impose requirements for vaccinations and masks.  SARA will notify all registrants should GBO issue a policy statement. Should GBO policies adversely impact a conference registrant, they may change their registration from in-person to virtual / online and receive a refund for the difference. Should GBO close the campus for any reason, all registrations will be changed to virtual / online. 

No Cellular Phone Service. GBO is in the National Radio Quiet Zone and there is no wireless phone service in the area.  Use of wi-fi devices and satellite phones such as Iridium or Globalstar near the facility is not allowed, and severe restrictions are placed on digital cameras, although film cameras without electronic flash are allowed. There is a computer lab available during the day.

Pre-Conference Activities.  Suggested pre-conference activities include free self-guided tours of the Green Bank Observatory Science Center and reasonably priced guided tours of the radio telescope area. Full details with a link for ticket purchase:  https://greenbankobservatory.org/visit/

An overall guide to other activities and attractions in the area: https://pocahontascountywv.com/things-to-do/


Contact: Please contact the conference coordinator, B.J. Wilson, if you have any questions or if you would like to help with the conference:  vicepresident@radio-astronomy.org

Additional Information: Additional details and updates will be published online at www.radioastronomy.org and in the SARA journal, Radio Astronomy, as we get closer to the conference date.


National Radio Quiet Zone and Major Roads to Green Bank


Green Bank Observatory Site Map