2020 Society of Amateur Radio Astronomers Eastern Conference Videos

Videos of all of the presentations at the 2020 Society of Amateur Radio Astronomers Eastern Conference are now available online at the SARA website. The conference was held on August 1 & 2, 2020.

The SARA page is organized so that you can reach each presentation individually. The videos are carried on YouTube.


Nominally the Eastern Conference is held each year at the Green Bank Observatory in West Virginia. This year the conference was carried completely online using Zoom. The coordinator for this conference was our own DSES Science Lead, Richard Russel. Over 93 SARA members participated, including several DSES members. DSES members Ray Uberecken, Skip Crilly, and Rich Russel gave talk presentations. Rich also was elected as Vice President of SARA.

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.


  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.


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!


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.


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*

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.

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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)

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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/

A New Map of the Milky Way

A new article appearing in the April 2020 Scientific American is “A New Map of the Milky Way” by astronomers Mark J. Reid and Xin-Wu Zheng.


The article describes recent parallax studies, using Very Long Base Line Interferometry(VLBI) radio astronomy in Japan and North America, to more accurately determine the spiral structure of our Milky Way galaxy. The studies indicate also that the Sun is closer to the central plane of the Milky Way than previously thought.

These VLBI studies utilize natural MASERs that are produced by molecules of water and methyl alcohol in ionized regions just outside hot stars. Hot stars are always short lived, not lasting more than a few million years, because they rapidly burn through their nuclear fuel at their higher temperatures. They therefore are found close to their original location of birth. They are one of the features that define a galaxy’s spiral arms. And so to map the location of the hot star MASERS is a means to map the spiral structure of the galaxy. Radio astronomy VLBI enables angular position measurements to high resolution. The angular position measurements are used to measure the parallax over the course of a year, and therefore measure distance to more accuracy. The more accurate determination of angular position in the sky and distance therefore enables a more accurate mapping.

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:


Hydrogen Drift Scan using the new 9-foot Dish

By Dr. Richard Russel

The DSES 9-foot dish is operational at Dr. Russel’s house in Colorado Springs. It is outfitted with a 1420 MHz feed with 2 low-noise amplifiers with over 40 dBi of gain and a noise figure of 0.35. The receiving system is a Spectracyber 1.

The output of the Spectracyber shows the relative peaks of hydrogen with a corresponding Doppler measurement.

Dr. Russel performed a drift scan of the visible sky and plotted the relative peak hydrogen signals.

The hydrogen maps very well to the visible Milky Way. The plot below converts the Celestial Coordinates into Galactic Coordinates. Note that the peak hydrogen is concentrated near the 0 Galactic Latitude.

Special Thanks to Ray Uberecken and Steve Plock for helping to set up the system.

For more information:

Dr. Richard Russel: DrRichRussel(at)netscape.net

Deep Space Exploration Society: www.DSES.science

Results of December 2018 Observing Trip

Dr. Richard Russel put together this slide set about the latest results from this month’s observing.  Contents:

  • Galactic Rotation Rate Results
  • Earth’s Position in Solar System
  • Complete HI spectrum Measurements from all observing trips

Dr. Russel is now utilizing Doppler shift measurements, and hence velocity, to also estimate the Earth’s position in the Solar System.

DSES Observation Trip December 2018 [Click to open the pptx slide show file.]