Radio Astronomy

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It has been a while now since taking my telescope outside to do some imaging. I looked in the sky at for the Perseids  meteor shower but didn’t see much… then I watched ‘Sky at Night’.

Sky at Night was all about meteorites and how to find and detect them especially during the Perseids meteor shower. In the program was a section that showed some Radio Astronomy which detected incoming meteorites. This involved listening to a powerful VHF radio station out of range normally, in this case France. When a meteorite enters the atmosphere it leaves an ionised trail which reflects radio waves back down to the ground. This is heard as a ‘ping’ and can be viewed on a computer. Impressive, but I thought it looked complicated.

Then the following night I went to a meeting of the Bolton Wireless Club and Ross (G6GVI) told me how he had re-created the set up on Sky at Night by using a piece of software called ‘FutureLab’ and a receiver tuned to 143.050Mhz to monitor the GRAVES VHF station in Dijon, France.  I decided to have a go myself with some amazing results!

The first image shows a larger ‘ping’ along with some smaller ones recorded over about half an hour just after midnight shortly after the Perseids peak.

The second image was recorded over a longer period from about midnight to 9.00am the day after.

The peaks show meteorites entering the atmosphere reflecting the radio waves from the GRAVES transmitter.

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