“Our second confirmed pulsar!”

Rich Russel reports we observed our second confirmed pulsar, “We got B0950+08 today!!!!!!” The observing team was Rich Russel, Ray Uberecken, and Bob Haggart. The team did the observing and made the measurement at the Plishner radio telescope site with the 60-foot antenna yesterday on July 4, 2020. Congratulations to the team! And congratulations are due also to all of the DSES members who have been working hard to restore the 60-foot dish antenna and develop is capability as a working scientific tool! This is a long time coming.

A brief information entry about PSR B0950+08 in Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PSR_B0950+08

Meanwhile, the report of our first pulsar observation on May 2nd, of pulsar, B0329+54 (J0332+5434), was just published in the May-June journal of the Society of Amateur Radio Astronomers: First Deep Space Exploration Society (DSES) Pulsar Captured on the 60-ft Dish

DSES Science Meeting June 22, 2020

2020-06-22 DSES Science Meeting
Notes by Bill Miller.
Science Presentation by Dr. Rich Russel.


We had 19 participants in the virtual science meeting, a new record.

Dr. Rich Russel, Ray Uberecken, Myron Babcock, Don Latham, Bascombe Wilson, Ted Cline, Jon Richardson KU4PEH, Ed Corn, Storm Quant (Kevin Shoemaker), Jay Wilson, Glenn Davis, Gary Agranat, Dave Molter, Dave Schick, Bob Haggart, Jim Madsen K3ILC, Bob Sayers, Tony Bigbee, Bill Miller


Plishner site trip summary of 6-20-20:

Ray Uberecken , Bob Haggart and Bill Miller went to the Plishner site on Sat. June 20.  See notes in Site trip report.

Covid-19 Policy:

Once again, we want to remind everyone to read our policy on Covid-19 on the webpage concerning meeting and going to the site.  In summary; If you have had the virus or have had symptoms or been closely exposed to a positive person you should let us know and self-isolate from the group and others for 14 days and not meet of go to the site.

SARA east conference

Rich is the SARA east conference coordinator. The August conference is virtual and is $20 to participate on Sat-Sun Aug 1st and 2nd.

Rich’s science presentation on Pulsar detection:


Much of the discussion was focused on understanding our pulsar observation and on what we can do improve our ability.

Zoom Meeting Recording
Date: Jun 22, 2020 05:08 PM Mountain Time (US and Canada)

Password: 9x@t3pt*

Deep Space Exploration Society Science Meeting – May 25, 2020

Hosted online by Dr. Richard Russel.

The slides for the meeting are available here on PDF: http://dses.science/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/DSES-Science-Meeting-5-25-2020-r2.pdf

The link to the video of the meeting is at the end of this page.


Notes of the May 25, 2020 Science Meeting are by Bill Miller:

We had 12 participants in the virtual science meeting:

Dr. Rich Russel, Ray Uberecken, Myron Babcock, Ted Cline, Jon Richardson KU4PEH, Ed Corn, Gary Agranat, Bob Haggart, Jim Madsen K3ILC, Dave Molter, Bill Miller


Rich thinks we need Internet service at the site for some of the experiments.

When Rich and Ray went down this last weekend the transformer at the gate had blown and they had to call in the power company to come fix it so didn’t get anything else done.   The power company came down, worked on it, and got it fixed.

Bill, we need to mention that everyone should read our policy on meeting and going to the site on the webpage.  If you have had the virus or have had symptoms or been exposed to a positive person you should self-isolate from the group and others for 14 days and not meet of go to the site.

Rich is the SARA east conference coordinator. The August conference is virtual and is $20 to participate. http://www.radio-astronomy.org/node/279

We were placed on the Neutron star group for the pulsar observation that Rich, Ray and Bob made several weeks ago. Rich thanks the rest of the group for all the hard work that got us to this point.


Rich’s presentation:

Rich gave his presentation on Pulsar B0329+54 observation, software setup and capture.

  • We had a lot of help from Steve Plock and Dr. Joe Martin (K5SO) to set up the SDR.
  • All the team members have put in a great deal of time and travel into the observatory to set up the feeds, cabling, power and control system to do this.
  • Ray, Bob and Rich were there for the first pulsar capture but everyone contributed.
  • Used the Ettus Research USRP N210 receiver.
  • Used a specially configured Laptop with a 1TB drive, Linux and Presto SW.
  • Used the GNU SW by Dr. Joe Martin (K5SO).

The Presto SW  builds a .FIL file with the data and time stamp.

Initial trial runs in Feb and May had the gain set too high and was saturating the receiver.

The first thing to check is the signal level of the feed and amps on a spectrum analyzer.

The site has a lot of RFI at 408 MHz right where we would like to observe so have to move up from this.

Ray added a 20dB preamp at the trailer end of the feed line.

Will move this preamp to the antenna end to compensate for the coax loss and reduce noise.

Single frequency RFI signals are filtered out by the SW.

The manual tracking works really well.

The tracking is run on the control Laptop and the Presto SW is run on the Linux Laptop.

The Initial  .FIL file gave a 2 pulse display after folding the signal from several hours of data.

The Presto SW is at    www.cv.nrao.edu/~sransom/presto

The SW needs input of a very accurate pulsar period.  The doppler error in the period due to the rotation of the earth and its orbital velocity  and position in orbit, also modifies the perceived pulsar period. Need to have the pulsar period set out to 4 or 5 decimals for the SW to fold/stack the signals to a usable observation.

The new SW takes the data, time tags it with the GPS data and creates the .FIL file.

The data from the Presto program will give a signal strength vs time for a single pulse that can be plotted using excel.  This Pulsar has a W50, 50% of pulse height with width of 6.6 mSec

This pulsar is circumpolar so it can be acquired at any time of day.  We need to change the mount limits to better enable this tracking without having to stop and unwrap 360 degrees if near the stop.

Most of the other available pulsars are in the Milky Way and only visible at night at this time of year.

The Murmur SW http://i0naa.Altervista.org  is a good tool to find the pulsars

For low horizon pulsars with little access time, perhaps you could add the sample files from several days together to get more data and stacking strength to acquire the signal.

Scintillation is a problem that distorts the signal through the atmosphere so we need observations that are high in elevation and at the best times of day and night for atmospheric stability.

The next observing session is planned for coming Friday night or through Saturday.

We need to get at least 5 pulsars to get on the top of the neutron star list.

Jon asked,  “Where is the pulsar capability going?”

                Badge of honor and accomplishment.

                One of the difficult things we have the facility to do.

Finding a glitch in the pulsar.

There are guys that process pulsars daily and look for anomalies.

Ray has his new quick change feed on the dish.

We can do pulsars for several months and then do EME or can receive the beacon from the moon.


With Rays quick change feed, we can switch back and forth.

We can do Skips SETI observations in between other work with simple change out of the feeds.

We need a group calendar or way to communicate on the web site to schedule site trips and who is going.  Need to find a way to do this.

The Zoom Meeting Recording can be found on my Drop Box link at:         


Please forgive the first 5 minutes of setting up Zoom.

First DSES Pulsar captured on the 60-ft dish by the observing team of Richard A. Russel, Ray Uberecken, Bob Haggart On May 2, 2020

By Dr. Richard Russel, DSES Science Lead.

The pulsar, B0329+54 (J0332+5434)1, was observed on the third try just before the team was ready to pack up for the day on Saturday, May 2, 2020. A final modification of the software defined radio settings was tried (all the gains were set to a minimum) did the trick.

The 60-ft dish was setup to manually track the pulsar using the System 1 tracking program software developed by Glenn Davis and Phil Gage. This program allowed us to track the pulsar’s position by keeping it in the bullseye.

We observed at a frequency of 420 MHz, with a bandwidth of 10 MHz.

The pulsar system was initiated last year by Steve Plock. Our mentor throughout the effort has been Dr. Joe Martin (K5SO) in New Mexico. Joe validated that we made a successful pulsar capture.

A screen shot of a computer

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The GNU radio software was turned on to start the acquisition.

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It should be noted that you cannot tell if you have the pulsar real-time because it is pulsing way below the noise level. After about 30 minutes, we stopped the acquisition and we moved the post-processing over to Bob’s new workbench.

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Bob Haggart constructing the new workbench.
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The new workbench in the science trailer, built by Bob Haggart.

Rich and Ray celebrate our first pulsar! (Bob’s taking the picture)

Two people standing in a kitchen

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The first iteration of post -processing requires that the pulsar period be estimated with a program called TEMPO. The first iteration is shown below. It clearly shows a pulsar because of the prominent peaks and the lines tracing down the plots, however it is not quite set to the optimum period.

After some more iterations the final picture looked cleaner.

More analysis using the resultant data files allowed us to verify the pulsar as B0329+54 (J0332+5434).

Even the pulse width at the 50% height (W50) was estimated. The preliminary analysis below shows a measured W50 of 6 ms. The current value in the ATNF database is 6.6 ms. This is real close and confirms our observation.

More observation runs are planned and DSES can can consider itself one of the few amateur organizations to accomplish pulsar observations2.

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  1. PSR B0329+54 is a pulsar approximately 3,460 light-years away in the constellation of Camelopardalis. It completes one rotation every 0.71452 seconds and is approximately 5 million years old.[Ref: wikipedia]
  2. Our successful observation is reported in Neutron Star Group http://neutronstar.joataman.net/

DSES Science Meeting, April 27, 2020

Meeting notes by Bill Miller, April 29, 2020.

We had 13 participants in the virtual science meeting:

Dr. Rich Russel, Ray Uberecken, Myron Babcock, Ted Cline, Bob Sayers, Jon Richardson, Jonathan Ayers, John R Kucypeh (sp), Xander Duvall, Tony Bigbee, Ed Corn, Gary Agranat, Bill Miller.

Ray gave a discussion of feed system modifications and plans fix the feed to enable Pulsar work.

Bill said we have to hold a virtual board meeting and elect officers from the board.  We also need to call the annual all members meeting.

Rich gave a presentation with slides (see below) on reduction and graphing of data sets from the  national observatories and Pulsar observations. He also discussed the data from his 9 foot dish and about how to understand the Hubble Galaxy and object classification nomenclature, such as MG0424+0435  where 0424 in the right ascension and +0435 is the declination.  He also discussed the gravitational lensing effect given by the gravity well of a foreground object bending the light  and radio emissions of a background object around it.  Prime examples of this are;  https://www.eso.org/public/images/eso9856f/ and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Einstein_Cross  the Einstein Cross.  Rich gave data and discussion of the Betelgeuse dimming phenomenon and whether this may be preamble to the star going supernova.  While a supernova may be preceded by a few hours by an early warning detector of Neutrinos as Gary has outlined, it is unlikely that this is the cause of the dimming and Rich gave a discussion of his theory and simulation of a passing object shading Betelgeuse.

Xander Duval was in attendance and said that he had been invited to go to the state science fair when others dropped out.  At the Fair he won an award from Nasa on earth science systems and submitted his research paper to the Junior Humanities and Science symposium and scored another award in physical sciences there. We are happy that this worked out well and hope to help him with future work.

Bob Sayers has a 4 ft PVC Mag Loop antenna that he would like to give away.  This can be configured for use with a SuperSID setup.

Rich said that it can be used as part of the Astronomy League’s Silver/Gold certification for radio astronomy.  You need 5 projects, 2 of which you need to build yourself. Available projects are:

  1. SuperSID Monitor
  2. Radio Jupiter or Radio Jove
  3. Neutral Hydrogen (Hi) Measurement
  4. Meteor Scatter
  5. Itty-bitty Telescope

Jonathan Ayers has a paper up on the SARA Western Conference Proceedings.  Gary Agranat says check it out at http://dses.science/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/MitigateRFIinSCDriftScanDataPython.pdf [Python Program for Mitigating Radio Frequency Interference Observed in SpectraCyber Receiver Drift Scan Data Files, by J. Ayres]

Here is a drop box link to the meeting recording missing the first 10 minutes before I logged in.


These are the slides from our DSES Science Meeting, Monday evening April 27, 2020. Presented by Dr. Rich Russel. In PDF format.

DSES Science Meeting, April 27, 2020

Radio astronomy observing and antenna repair at the Plishner observatory, February 15, 2020

Participants: Rich Russel, Bob Haggart, Glenn Davis, Lewis Putnam, Bill Miller, and Gary Agranat.

Photos by Bill Miller and Gary Agranat.

We worked at the Plishner antenna site in Haswell on Saturday February 15, 2020. We had three projects:

  1. Attempt at observing a circumpolar pulsar, utilizing the System 1 manual tracking system. (Rich Russel, Glenn Davis, Lewis Putnam).
  2. Complete building and installing shelf space in the Communications (Operations) Trailer (Bob Haggard).
  3. Repair of the 3-element Yagi ham radio antenna, to realign the three elements (Gary Agranat, Bill Miller, Bob Haggard).

1. The major task of the day was an attempt at a science observing run of a circumpolar pulsar. This is one of the brighter puslars in the sky. And being circumpolar, it is always above the horizon, though it can still get relatively low to the horizon. The observing technique required continually pointing a the celestial coordinates and integrating the signal for at least a half hour. By integrating over time, the random noise tends to cancel more, leaving the actual radio source signal the time to accumulate and sum to a higher level than the noise floor.

Science Lead Rich Russel (seated) and System 1 Lead Glenn Davis setting up the pulsar observations.
Bill Miller, Lewis Putnam, Rich Russel, and Glenn Davis in the Communications Operations Trailer during the observation runs.
The display for the System 1 manual tracking. The circles in the black field represent the antenna beam width for different frequencies. The large blue ring represents a 4 degree diameter beam width, and is for the 408 MHz feed currently being used for the pulsar observing. The inner yellow ring is 0.8 degrees in diameter, which is for our HI hydrogen observing at 1.4 GHz. The pink dot represents where the center of the beam is pointing. A star field map is projected on the background black field. The upper part of the display shows azimuth and elevation of the antenna, and its conversion to the celestial coordinates of Right Ascension and Declination at the current time.
The signal strength across the frequency spectrum being observed. For pulsar observing, we cannot detect the pulsar signal itself in real time. We must integrate the signal over at least a half hour of observing. Then we process the signal, with an expected pulsar timing. That process averages out the background noise while adding the actual pulsar signal enough to elevate above the noise floor — in theory.
The 60 foot dish antenna turning to aim at the pulsar.
The 408 MHz antenna feed. Ray Unberecken has designed a base for the antenna feeds so that these can be easily swiveled out for service and changeout. Ray designed and built this feed.

2. Bob Haggart worked on completing the building of desk and shelf space in the Communications Operations Trailer. The additional space is actually important, as that gives us a means to organize and better utilize our work space, and not instead have items pile up randomly.

Bob Haggart
New desk and shelf space in the Communications Operations Trailer.
New desk and shelf space in the Communications Operations Trailer. Note the addition of amenities, of microwave oven and coffee pots.

3. A third project was the repair of the front element of the 3-band Yagi ham radio antenna on the 40-foot tower. The front element had rotated slightly askew.

The front element of the 3-band Yagi ham radio antenna on the 40-foot tower rotated askew somehow. Fixing this was our third project undertaken this day.
The tower was rotated down for service.
Bill Miller aligning the front element. Also working on this were Gary and Bob. Bob utilized cable lengths to help ensure actual evenness. We also used squares and levels.
Gary working on the antenna. The ladder was used to access and retighten the center supports at the mast.
While the tower was down for the service, Bill reinforced the structural support for the 2-meter band vertical antenna on a side support from the tower.
Gary raised the tower back up.
The 50-foot tower almost at its vertical position.

After the tower was raised back to vertical position, Bill and Gary slightly rearranged the positioning of the 80 meter dipole that is supported from a pulley on the tower. The repositioning separated the dipole with better clearance from other nearby wires

We discovered that the Communications Trailer phone used for our 2-meter talk-in radio was transmitting but not receiving. Bill started to troubleshoot it.
Bill photographing the dish antenna. Pikes Peak is visible in the distance, over a hundred miles away.
Gary also photographed the dish antenna.
The 60 foot antenna rotating back to its parking position after the observing runs.

Rich Russel processed the observation data, but the processing did not bring out the pulsar. Troubleshooting is a topic at the February Science Meeting. Meanwhile, the System 1 antenna pointing system worked well.

The group finished up the work well before sunset, so that traveling back with the sun setting was not a significant issue. We had good weather for this trip, for a winter day in February. Our temperature was in the 40s F, which was actually midler than the 30s in Colorado Springs. And our wind was light.

DSES February 2020 Science Meeting

Our Deep Space Exploration Society Science Meeting was held on February 22, 2020, at the home of Dr. Richard Russel.

The Science Meeting had three major topics of discussion:

  • Betelgeuse dimming experiment
  • Pulsar Observation status
  • Latest DSES papers and presentation

These are the slides from the meeting, written by Dr. Russel: DSES-Feb-2020-Science-Meeting.pdf

Some additional background and details:

We have been monitoring the news about the apparent magnitude of the star Betelgeuse dimming during the past few months. Betelgeuse is a red supergiant star in its late stages of stellar evolution. As such, it is expected to become a Type II supernova some time within the next 100,000 years. Its recent dimming has piqued interest that perhaps the star may soon become a supernova. If that were to happen, DSES is prepared to observe it immediately. We are keeping aware of notifications from the SNEWS (Supernova Early Warning System) network [https://snews.bnl.gov/], which would send an alert if indicator neutrinos were detected.

However, no current theory of supernova predicts that a star would first dim, as is being observed for Betelgeuse. And meanwhile several other physical factors are known to make Betelgeuse variable, although it has not been observed during historical times to dim as much as is being observed now.

Dr. Russel recognized that another possible physical mechanism that could cause the apparent dimming would be a dust cloud coming between the star and us along our line of sight. The cloud could be interstellar, or it could be a product of the star itself and close to the star. There is evidence for a possible cloud in existing VLA (Very Large Array) observational data, which we have available to analyze. In the imaging data, what could be an imaging artifact nonetheless shows structure, and could instead be an actual physical cloud. In the slides, Dr. Russel showed calculations of how the cloud would be expected to move if it is the culprit of the current dimming. At the meeting we developed a set of observational tests we can conduct to test our hypotheses about if there really is a cloud dimming Betelgeuse.

The second topic of discussion was about troubleshooting our attempted observing of a pulsar with our 60-foot dish antenna the previous weekend. The analysis produced no results. But there can be several possible reasons for the problem.

What we did think did work was the accurate pointing of the dish antenna with the System 1 software, to well within the beam width limits of the 408 MHz antenna feed.

The third topic was about the upcoming Society of Amateur Radio Astronomers Western Conference [http://www.radio-astronomy.org/node/323] in late March in Socorro, NM. DSES will be presenting several papers there.

The Pikes Peak Regional Science Fair was held the previous Saturday at UCCS. Bill Miller and Gary Agranat represented DSES as special judges. Tony Bigbee served as a general judge for the Fair. Bill and Gary awarded Outstanding and Honorable Mention awards in both the Junior and Senior High School categories. Bill presented the awards at the Fair’s awards ceremony, held the evening after the DSES science meeting. The Science Fair and the awards will be a topic of another post.

Very Large Array (VLA) Imaging Results – 2nd Update & HI Drift Scan using 9-ft Dish at Russel Observatory September 2019

This autumn Dr. Richard Russel attended the Very Large Array (VLA) Imaging course in Socorro, New Mexico. The course taught how to take the data sets from multiple large interferometer antenna systems and produce images and science statistics.. This post presents the slides from the DSES Science Meeting on November 25, 2019. This is an update from Dr. Russel’s posts on the topic from October 19 and 31.

Dr. Russel also presents his September 2019 results of Hydrogen 21 cm (HI) drift scan measurements at his newly installed 9-foot dish antenna at his home in Colorado Springs.

Please click the link to view the illustrated pdf file:


Very Large Array (VLA) Imaging Results – Updated & HI Drift Scan using 9-ft Dish at Russel Observatory September 2019

Recently Dr. Richard Russel attended the Very Large Array (VLA) Imaging course in Socorro, New Mexico. The course taught how to take the data sets from multiple large interferometer antenna systems and produce images and science statistics.. This post is an update from Dr. Russel’s post on this topic on October 19.

In this post, Dr. Russel also presents initial results of Hydrogen 21 cm (HI) drift scan measurements at his newly installed 9-foot dish antenna at his home in Colorado Springs.

Please click the link to view the illustrated post:


Very Large Array (VLA) Image Reduction Results

Recently Dr. Richard Russel attended the Very Large Array (VLA) Imaging course in Socorro, New Mexico. This course taught how to take the data sets from the VLA archive and produce images. The following is the first set of images reduced from the VLA archive by Dr. Russel.

Images were made of these astronomical objects:

  • 3C75 Binary Black Hole System
  • 3C391 Supernova Remnant
  • Asymptotic Giant Branch (AGB) Star IRC+10216
  • MG0414+0534 Gravitational Lens HI Absorption Line

Each image takes about 1 day to produce from the raw observation.