Plishner Perseids Meteor Shower Expedition 12-13 August 2016

DSES will have its first major observing expedition at the Plishner site on 12 – 13 August in conjunction with the Perseid Meteor Shower.

The following radio telescopes will be set up for observing:
1) Hydrogen – on 60 ft dish using Ray’s new feed
2) Radio Jove
3) Meteor Scatter
4) SuperSIDS
5) Itty Bitty Telescope

Also a number of optical telescopes will be set up to watch the meteor shower + planet and star observations.
We are also trying to get a solar telescope to do some daytime observations.

Ham radio operators will use the new DSES Club call sign, K0PRT, to make radio contacts. We will have HF antennas plus SHF, UHF, and VHF using the 60 ft dish available.

The setup team will arrive about 1200 on the 12th and start observations around 1700 and throughout the night. Observers should bring thumb drives and observer journals.

Anyone participating should bring sleeping gear and food for the overnight event. The clearing next to the communications van will be available for camping or campers. Recommend anyone sleeping in the bunker bring a cot and sleeping bag.

The event will end at 1600 on 13 August.

Please RSVP to Rich Russel.

Dr. Rich Russel

Science Update 6-3-16

The Radio Jove system picked up lightning strikes very clearly on 20.1 MHz during the storm that passed through Colorado Springs on 29 May 2016, as evidenced by Figure 1. The second jpeg, Figure 2, is zoomed-in showing what lighting looks like on the strip chart.

As you can see, it is important to recognize if your radio telescope is detecting Jupiter or lightning.

Figure 1. Radio Jove data record of 5-29-16

Figure 2. Detail of Lighting data 5-29-16

Dr. Rich Russel

Hammn’ Sams RV Club Visit to Plishner 5/21/2016

A group of 12 visitors from the Hammn’ Sams RV club visited the site Saturday afternoon. This group, all amateur radio operators, traveled 35 miles north from their weekend campout at the John Martin Reservoir camp ground on the Arkansas River to make this visit. Myron and Bob Sayers, members of this RV group, made this invitation. Dr. Richard Russel provided an impromptu briefing to the visitors and, without going up into the dish, Steve Plock helped 3 members view the dish pedestal.

PDF containing images at link immediately below:
Hammn’ Sams RV Club May-21-2016 Visit to Plishner

Plishner 5/14/2016 Weekend Trip Report

The following Plishner weekend update was provided by Steve Plock.

Strong winds and high humidity conditions created a pretty chilly and challenging work day for Ed Corn and Steve Plock at the Plishner site this past Saturday, May 14. Thanks to Skip MacCaulay from Lacombe, Alberta for his donation of a DC-to-AC inverter that Ed installed as the primary, along with another inverter donated by Ray that Ed installed as a backup.

An Anderson Power Pole distribution unit was also installed in the communications trailer. Light fixture attachment points were installed in the upper pedestal so that future lighting can be installed. The voltage regulator circuit board for the propane generator was remoted to the North wall of the generator shed and the connecting wires were placed in conduit. Hopefully, this placement will eliminate or reduce the heat build-up and vibration at the regulator board compared to when it was mounted on the generator.

A hole was cut in the plywood of the eastern (bunker) end of the generator shed and a louver panel installed. There is now a substantial air flow created inside the shed with the louvers open and the generator door closed. Generator oil was changed on a prior visit and the 1000 gallon propane tank is now at 30%. The tank main shut off/on valve will be repaired before adding more propane to the tank.

Thanks to Ed Corn and Steve Plock for their time spent at the Plishner site this past weekend.

Myron Babcock
DSES Treasurer

Science Update 5-1-16

Results of the Radio Jove telescope at using the Plishner receiver from February to April 2016.

1) The damaged (eaten) antenna appears to have limited the Jupiter observations, however there is significant solar data.
2) The Data ends on 6 April due to the DC-AC inverter failure at the site.
3) We rebuilt the antenna on the 23 April trip. We will reinstall the receiver and the laptop on the next trip when we get the new inverter.
4) The data for all telescopes is being stored if anyone would like to use it.

I am currently analyzing the Meteor Scatter data from the Lyrid Meteor shower. Thanks to Ed Corn for setting up his system for meteor scatter.


Science Update 4-6-16

Meteor Scatter Observations

Meteor showers happen when Earth’s orbit crosses the orbit of a comet or asteroid. The bits of dust and material remain after the comet or asteroid passes and the resultant meteor shower is a result of these particles entering Earth’s atmosphere.

The meteor leaves an ionized trail of material in the atmosphere that is highly reflective to a radio signal. An available ground based radio signal is the analog video television channel signal at 55.25 MHZ. The U.S. no longer broadcasts this frequency since the country went to digital television. However, it appears that there are a few signals being broadcast from Canada and Mexico.

Station setup:

  • Receiver at 55.25 MHZ
  • Antenna ( dipole or yagi at this frequency)
  • Computer (Windows operating system with microphone or other audi input)
  • Software – Radio Skypipe
  • Audio jumper from radio audio out to computer microphone in


  • The atmosphere normally does not reflect the 55.25MHz signal. When the meteor enters the atmosphere, the signal does reflect off the ionization trail and is reflected back toward the ground. The signal sounds like a bell tone when received.
  • Using the Radio Skypipe software, the signal spikes in amplitude and then reduces in a “shark Fin” geometry. This is caused by the meteor ionization trail degrading and therefore the reflected signal reduces gradually. SU06-06-16_1

Skypipe will also allow the operator to count the number of meteors during a period of time. The below chart shows the results from last years Leonid meteor shower.


Future observations:

Shower Approximate Date Parent Object
Quadrantids January 3-4 Asteroid 2003 EH1
Lyrids April 21-22 Comet Thatcher
Eta Aquariids May 5-6 Comet Halley
Perseids August 12-13 Comet Swift-Tuttle
Draconids October 8-9 Comet Giacobini-Zinner
Orionids October 21-22 Comet Halley
Taurids November 5-6 Comet Encke
Leonids November 17-18 Comet Tempel-Tuttle
Geominids December 13-14 Asteroid Phaethon
Ursids December 22-23 Comet Tuttle

Contact Dr. Rich Russel for more information on setting up your meteor scatter radio telescope.

Science Update 3-23-16

Plishner Radio Jupiter Astronomy Observations

The first long term observations at Plishner are based on the radio Jupiter system. The system utilizes a 20 Mhz dual dipole interferometer phased at 90 degrees toward the south. This enables the antenna system to improve gain toward the ecliptic in which Jupiter transits.

The radio telescope system is installed on a laptop at Plishner and remotely accessed via the internet. Below is the output of the system. It includes real-time monitoring of the 20 Mhz signal and the battery voltage of the battery system.

Plishner Radio Astronomy Jupiter System
Plishner Radio Astronomy Jupiter System

All data is archived and is available to DSES members for use in research.

Contact Dr. Rich Russel for more information on accessing the collected data.