By Bill Miller and Paul Sobon
Every year the DSES holds an open house public event, where we provide tours of the facility and demonstrate what radio astronomy and Amateur radio are all about. This year, on September 16 we demonstrated EME (Earth Moon Earth) or moon bounce communication allowing folks to bounce their voice or radio signal off the moon using our 60 Ft radio dish antenna. This is a rare opportunity and thrill for children and adults alike, to hear their voice echo off the moon, traveling about 240,000 miles to the moon and back at the speed of light,186,000 miles per second. The echo returns in about two and a half seconds. Only a few private stations in the world can accomplish this because it takes a very large antenna and powerful transmitter for voice transmission to echo off the moon. In addition to hearing our own echoes, the EME station was able to contact other stations in Canada, Italy, England, and Germany as well as many other ham operators in the USA. We also gave tours of the new building and underground facilities and did solar and nighttime observations with optical telescopes. An astronomy presentation on Pulsars was held during the event. Throughout the day, we got a lot of great questions from the public about the site, and what we do there. There were about 75 people who attended the event.
The 60 Ft Diameter Radio Astronomy Dish Antenna stands 55 feet tall, weighs over 65 tons and is made of aluminum and steel. It can point in any direction at any elevation so is full hemispherical. The dish is so well balanced that it only takes 3HP motors to drive it from horizon to horizon in just a few minutes. The Facility and dish were built around 1959 and used to study high speed microwave communication at great distances in support of our northern defenses or DEW Line. In about 1973, when Satellite and fiberoptic communications took over, the facility was put up for government auction and sat unused for about 40 years. After some time, Paul Plishner, a prominent radio and microwave contractor, purchased the facility donated it to the DSES who have been working diligently to restore it since about 2009. The DSES has repurposed the dish and facility for Amateur Radio Astronomy and Ham Radio. So far, we have detected 24 Pulsars, mapped the Hydrogen radio Emissions of Milky Way Galaxy and done countless radio experiments. The facility is completing a new building as an operations and educational facility and has many new projects on the horizon.
When operating EME most people were awestruck, pondering the distance and speed. The children thought that it was really cool. As we explained the other things that we do, we dispelled some misunderstandings and enlightened visitors about our Kiowa County operation.
According to the FCC there are about 43 Ham Radio Operators in Kiowa County and many more in the surrounding counties. Several hams from those counties showed up for the event but we had members from the Front Range and as far away as Oregon and Arizona come in to help with the event. Almost everyone who wanted to was able to be a guest operator for the EME and many were given a tour and demonstration of the general-purpose ham radio station at the facility. During the open house day, many ham radio stations across the USA were contacted from our ham radio station K0PRT.
DSES holds this open house only once per year. However, the public can stop by whenever there is an official work party on site. The Deep Space Exploration Society site is open to scheduled visits from educational groups or other social groups wishing a tour and presentation on Radio Astronomy. Also, the general public can join the Deep Space Exploration Society by signing up for membership on our website at https://dses.science/ for a small membership fee, entitling them to all of our meetings and events onsite.
The Pork BBQ catered by the Michelle Nelson, the mayor of Haswell and her family, was definitely a hit with everyone. We asked for a donation to support the BBQ and raise money for the Haswell Community Center and 4H club.
Duncan WE7L hears his voice bounced off the moon:
Photo Credits: Marc Slover, Roger Oaky, Bill Miller and Bill Thomas