DSES Sept 19, 2020 Pulsar Observing Trip Observes 2 More Pulsars

Bob Haggart and Rich Russel did an observation all nighter on Friday/Saturday (September 19, 2020, GMT) and observed 2 pulsars.
VELA (B0833-45) is one of the strongest pulsars at 5 JY while B1946+35 is at 0.145 JY.
DSES is one of the most northern amateur stations to detect VELA. We detected it in 15 minutes at 5 to 6 degrees elevation.
This make 13 pulsars and puts us 5th on the international amateur pulsar hunter list. http://www.neutronstar.joataman.net/

DSES Pulsar Observing Team netted 5 new pulsars!

The DSES team of Rich Russel, Ray Uberecken, and Glenn Davis observed for pulsars on Saturday September 5, 2020 at the DSES 60-foot dish antenna at Haswell, CO.

The team successfully observed 5 pulsars which we hadn’t been able to detect before.

The success is attributed to the calibration of the antenna pointing system and the new automatic tracking system developed by the System 1 team.

We started with calibrating the azimuth of the antenna (it was 2.5 degrees off!) Elevation was good. Glenn put the offset in the auto tracking system and we were able to detect the B0329+54 pulsar within 30 minutes. (We use the B0329+54 pulsar, the first one we successfully saw last May, as a starting reference. If we can observe this, we know our system is working.) Every pulsar we looked at after that was detected – we just ran out of time for more!

It is possible we missed observing previous pulsars because our pointing accuracy was off.

See the slide set for our observation summary.

http://dses.science/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/8-Pulsars-Observed-so-Far-9-5-20-r3.pdf

We are pretty sure we observed the Crab pulsar. The last slide shows an analysis of the time between pulses we measured for the Crab pulsar, compared to the standard reference database.

More detail to come at the next science meeting

Our total pulsar count is now 8!

2020-07-27 DSES Science Meeting Notes

Welcome to the July DSES Science meeting 7/27/2020

2020-07-27 DSES Science Meeting Notes:                                                            by Bill Miller

We had 14 participants in the virtual science meeting today:  Thanks everyone for joining.

Participants: Dr. Rich Russel,  Ray Uberecken, Ted Cline, Jonathan Ayers, Ed Corn, Gary Agranat, Glenn Davis, Jim Madsen, Bob Haggart, Jon Richardson, Dave Schick, Don Latham, Tony Bigbee, Bill Miller

Agenda and notes; See the Zoom Recording for more detail: https://us02web.zoom.us/rec/share/u50vfrXt12hJbKf341OCGbJmA8fIaaa80ylL-

  1. Discussion of needed policy on site installs and changes 
    1. We have had a number of site conflicts of late.  These have resulted in a lot of waisted installation and observation time and frustration as well as hard feelings between members and damage to the dish, and operations center.
    2. General Proposal:  I have often said that if you see something that needs improvement and you have the skill to do it, take it on and just do it.  We need to qualify that with a little more process. In order to improve the site, equipment and observation capability and move the organization forward we often need to make changes.  The Engineering meeting is where we coordinate and plan for these changes.  If not previously planned and you are on site and need to make a change to a significant system you must call the person who installed or last modified that system and discuss it with them prior to removing, modifying or replacing it. 
    3. Use the Engineering Meeting for what it was intended.
    4. Be considerate and helpful to each other.
    5. Communication and coordination of equipment changes should not be a problem and further conflicts will have to be dealt with.
    6. We will need to repair the damage.
    7. We all have a common goal to improve the facility and equipment.  Let’s not have these issues.  When in doubt, Ask.
  2. We will potentially have photographers on site Thursday or Saturday for comet picture opportunity.  Would like to have a member on site to give access and keep the photographers out of trouble. Any volunteers?
    1. Don Savage don.savage54 (at) gmail.com is coordinating 4 or 5 night sky photographers.
    2. We will have them sign a Liability Waver
  3. July-August Events:
    1. The SARA virtual Eastern Conference will be held on Saturday and Sunday the 1st and 2nd of August.   See the SARA web site for info and payment.
    2. Comet C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE) is currently in the constellation of Ursa Major. The current Right Ascension is 11h 45m 40s and the Declination is +36° 12’ 10”
    3. Additional pulsar observations. Please post planned dates and attendance
    4. Additional SETI Observations. Please post planned dates and attendance.
    5. Open house is cancelled for CoVid19, but we may do a small member camp out if some members would be interested in that.
    6. We will also assemble a virtual Open House presentation for various usage such as public outreach, education, fundraising and general interest.
    7. The Perseids will peak on Aug 11-12. On these nights, the moon will be 47% full.
    8. The next dark sky moon phase is Aug 13th through Aug 21.
  4. Glenn gave an overview of what was done recently on the System 1 Automatic Tracking HW and SW.  New features include:
    1. Automatic Tracking
    2. RA and Dec track automatically
    3. Az/El position command
    4. Track Moon Command
    5. Stow command

Tracking stayed within the bore site during the whole 5 hr. evening session.

Need to do more training, Glenn and his wife will go to the site tomorrow and draw up a training presentation and checklist.

Needs:

  1.  Sun exclusion track but there is a pop up on the screen that you are in the sun exclusion area.
  2. It would be nice to have a Raster Scan capability to map Object Hi Emissions and to help pointing accuracy.
  3. Rich provided his presentation on Pulsar, Fast Radio Burst and other experiments and observation we can do.

5. Rich gave high praise and kudos to the System 1 team to get a very high quality tracking and control complete. Very clean system design and implementation from Glenn Davis, Lewis Putnam and Phil Gage.  Much praise.

Discussion/presentation on Pulsar and other science topics from Dr. Richard Russel

See the attached presentation: http://dses.science/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/DSES-Science-Meeting-7-27-20.pdf

See the Zoom recording for more detail.

https://us02web.zoom.us/rec/share/u50vfrXt12hJbKf341OCGbJmA8fIaaa80ylL-aUKzx2QbQXjO1w8ndJvEt-SL86-

Deep Space Exploration Society 3rd pulsar observed on Saturday July 11, 2020

By Dr. Richard Russel, DSES Science Lead

The pulsar, B1133+16, was observed on the 60 ft dish antenna by Rich Russel and Ray Uberecken after 4 hours of tracking and collecting data on the pulsar.

This pulsar is the weakest object observed by DSES at 0.257 Janskys!

The pulsar is noted for having a “conal double” peak in its profile. Our observation picks this out very well.

The PRESTO analysis program results are shown below.

The conal double plot is produced from the raw data and plotted in excel.

PSR B1133+16 is located at RA 11h 33m 27s Declination +16.07°, in the northeast part of the constellation Leo. It was observed with a pulse period of 1.187 seconds. Our center frequency was 417 MHz, and we used a 10 MHz bandwidth.

(The name B1133+16 conveys the celestial sky coordinates, referenced to a standard year epoch. In this case the B indicates the position is from the year 1950, the “Besselian” year, named after the German astronomer Friedrich Bessel.)

Congratulations to the entire membership for turning the DSES dish into a world class scientific instrument!

Thanks!

Dr. Richard Russel

DSES Science Lead

“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.

Participants:

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

Preliminaries: 

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:

http://dses.science/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/DSES-Science-Meeting-6-22-20.pdf

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)
https://us02web.zoom.us/rec/share/5MlUEJfO0F5LXbPd2WvWeP4fRb-_eaa80SgYq6JYnhmJ9zhQ6vhRNDmHd4LZkX0- 

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

Preliminaries: 

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.

http://neutronstar.joataman.net/sites/dses/index.html

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.

https://www.google.com/search?q=OE5JFL+beacon

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:         

https://www.dropbox.com/sh/l949mj9o2084nhs/AACnrJNys-jzNa-mwzSfG4eka?dl=0&preview=2020-05-25+Science+Meeting.mp4

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

Description automatically generated

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

A screen shot of a computer

Description automatically generated

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.

A picture containing person, outdoor, man, sitting

Description automatically generated
Bob Haggart constructing the new workbench.
A picture containing indoor, table, kitchen, counter

Description automatically generated
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

Description automatically generated

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.

A picture containing outdoor, clock, tower, water

Description automatically generated

Reference:

  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.

https://www.dropbox.com/sh/2pqscwj7txr7d5p/AADq0yNlG2KI3ZZDE8lqfxEta?dl=0

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.