2020 SARA Annual Conference – Paper Abstracts


SARA 2020 Eastern Conference Abstracts

(So Far 5-20-20)


Microwave SETI Geographically-spaced Synchronized Signal Detection System

Skip Crilly

The synchronized telescope system currently comprises three telescopes. The New Hampshire telescope has orthogonal circular polarization receivers, Haswell has one circular polarization receiver, Green Bank has one linear polarized receiver. The observed anomalies compel further observations.


Small Aperture Pulsar Detection

Peter East 


It has long been believed that pulsar detection by amateurs is extremely difficult and that large antennas, complex receivers and difficult processing is required to achieve any success. Some amateurs have however piloted the way with quite modest systems and this article builds on their success. In it, the tools are shared that will enable an interested party to design their own system and process the data to confidently detect the strongest pulsar in either the Earth's northern or southern hemispheres. The key parameters to success with minimum expenditure exploit the increasing pulsar flux levels at low frequencies, availability of software defined radios, easily constructed receiving antennas and freely available processing software. This article begins by examining the fundamental radiometer equation to demonstrate what system characteristics are important and discusses how best to choose the antenna and main receiver components to facilitate amateur pulsar detection


The LoFASM Project and the McMath-Hulbert Astronomical Society (MHAS)

Tom Hagen

The Low Frequency All Sky Monitor (LoFASM) is an array of 12 Long Wavelength Array Active Crossed-Dipole Antennas and associated hardware operating the frequency range of 10-88 MHz.  LoFASM was developed by The Center for Advanced Radio Astronomy (CARA) at the University of Texas—Rio Grande Valley and is primarily designed to detect fast radio transients.  The study of astronomical time domain events has become a priority in recent years and such events include: gravity waves, fast radio bursts, gamma- and X-ray bursts.  In radio astronomy, the wavelengths of 3 to 30 meters are a relatively unexplored range and instruments such as the Long Wavelength Array (LWA) at the Very Large Array (VLA) in Socorro, New Mexico and the Low Frequency Array (LOFAR) are already addressing this area of inquiry.   One of the nice features of this program is that students can be involved with the setup of the system and analysis of the data.  At MHAS one of our missions is to involve students in scientific educational opportunities and this project could be used to reach underserved students in our Detroit metro area location.




Introduction to Radio Astronomy

Ed Harfmann

Radio astronomy allows us to tune into the universe.  This has allowed us to over double our knowledge of the universe.  This introduction is a brief overview of where astronomy and radio astronomy started and are currently going.  We also peek into the world of both the amateur and professional radio astronomer.


The Astropeiler Stockert 25-m Radio Telescope:

Construction, Capabilities and Observations


Wolfgang Herrmann



The talk will cover the 25-m Radio Telescope “Astropeiler Stockert” maintained and operated by a group of enthusiasts. The first part of the presentation will give an introduction into the history and the design of the telescope. The present instrumentation will be explained and what capabilities can be achieved with this instrumentation. A second part of the talk will give an overview of the observation activities and show some of the highlights of results.


Hertzsprung-Russel Diagrams from Gaia Astrometry and Photometry

Little Thompson Observatory

Kevin McManus


Launched in December, 2013 by the European Space Agency (ESA), the Gaia spacecraft set out on a mission to gather precise observations of position, motion and spectroscopy of  over 1 billion celestial objects.  The Gaia Data Processing and Analysis Consortium (DPAC) makes this data freely and easily accessible.  From it, we’ll construct Hertzsprung-Russel diagrams of some familiar nearby open clusters. In this talk, you’ll see how to access and obtain the Gaia data, how to construct and HRD from it and how to interpret the diagram thus produced.



Python Tools for Astronomy: a Introductory Tutorial

Little Thompson Observatory

Kevin McManus


Tired of writing Excel functions to convert HH:MM:SS or +/- DD:MM:SS to something you can plot? Can’t remember how to convert parallax to distance, or equatorial coordinates to galactic? Do you need the speed of light in km or m per second?  Python’s Astropy and  associated libraries provide a rich suite of capabilities for processing astronomical observations and modeling astronomical phenomenon. In this tutorial, we’ll introduce you to Astropy and use it to solve some common problems in Astronomy.







Beginner's Workshop / Things I Learned Along the Way

Charles Osborne

This is a "lessons learned" treatment of key common issues and mistaken approaches I've seen over the past 30 years as I went from SARA member beginner to doing radio astronomy for a living for eight years and then back to doing it in retirement as a hobby. A lot of time and money can be saved by managing expectations, attention to detail, and starting simple, then building up one's capabilities by continuous improvement.


SuperSIDS Update

Keith Payea/Debbie Sherrer

Update on the SuperSID program.


Capacitors and the Radio Telescope

Bruce Randall NT4RT


In almost 50 years of electronic design I have seen many problems caused by capacitors.  These problems also apply to the radio telescope as is shown in this paper.  Discussion will include basics of what a capacitor is.  Comparison is made to storage and measuring containers for water.  The goal of the paper is to give people who are not electronic engineers an understanding of capacitors.  Skilled engineers may not learn anything new but will hopefully be entertained by some strange analogies.


Important Celestial Radio Sources

Whitham D. Reeve

 The list of celestial radio sources presented below was obtained from the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) library. Each column heading is defined below. As presented here, the list is sorted in order of flux density as received on Earth. As an aid in visualizing the location of the more powerful radio sources in the sky with respect to the Milky Way galaxy, an annotated radio map also is provided along with explanations of its important features.


Reducing Observations from the JVLA, ALMA, ATCA and EVLBI Radio-Telescope Archives

Richard A. Russel

Recently Dr. Russel attended the Very Large Array (VLA) imaging course in Socorro, New Mexico. This course taught how to take the data sets from multiple large interferometer antenna systems and produce images and science statistics. The following is the latest images produced by Dr. Russel from the archives.




First DSES Pulsar captured on the 60-ft dish by the observing team of:

Richard A. Russel

The pulsar, B0339+54 (J0332+5434), 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.


20m Skynet Robotic Radio Telescope

Steve Tzikas

Guidance on the use of the Green Bank 20m Radio Telescope which can be operated remotely.