Solar System Section

Section Coordinator: Whitham D. Reeve,

Background and Context
One of the easiest ways to participate and observe in radio astronomy focuses on radio emissions within the Solar Systems.  Several low cost kits are available for such projects including SuperSID, INSPIRE, Radio Jove, and the Itty Bitty Telescope (IBT).


Total Solar Eclipse 2017


Sun and Heliosphere
The Sun is not as powerful an emitter of radio waves as many other objects, but its close proximity to us makes it radio-bright.  Additionally, when solar flares occur on the Sun's surface, the Earth receives a number of geomagnetic storms as a result that can be monitored.  When there is a solar flare on the Sun's surface, there is often an accompanying burst of radio energy projected into space. You can monitor these bursts with standard short wave and vhf receivers with modest antennas. 
Related Radio Astronomy Project(s) and/or Information:
SuperSID - Collaboration of Society of Amateur Radio Astronomers and Stanford Solar Center [PDF version]
Order a SuperSID


Geophysics and Geomagnetics
Another way to spot solar flares is by an indirect means. With large solar flares come blasts of x-rays. When the x-rays hit the Earth's ionosphere, the way the ionosphere reflects radio waves is disturbed. At short wave frequencies, a dip in signal strength of distant stations can often be observed.  At VLF frequencies, below 150 kHz, the opposite effect is observed and the signal strength of distant station will jump suddenly and slowly decline.  Using a VLF receiver permanently tuned to a distant station is considered a reliable way to detect x-ray solar flares.
Related Radio Astronomy Project(s) and/or Information:

A whistler is a very low frequency or VLF electromagnetic (radio) wave generated by lightning.  Frequencies of whistlers are 1 kHz to 30 kHz.  They are produced by lightning strokes where the impulse travels along the Earth's magnetic field lines from one hemisphere to the other.
Related Radio Astronomy Project(s) and/or Information:

Satellite Tracking
A satellite finder is a satellite signal meter used to accurately point satellite dishes at communications satellites in geo-stationary orbit.
Related Radio Astronomy Project(s) and/or Information:

The US Army Signal Corps made the first attempt to “touch” another celestial body in 1946, when it bounced radio signals off the moon and received the reflected signals. The effort led to what is known as EME (Earth-Moon-Earth) communications, used for ham radio.
Related Radio Astronomy Project(s) and/or Information:

Whenever a meteor passes through the upper atmosphere it creates a column of ionized air behind it called a meteor trail. This ionized trail is capable of reflecting radio waves from transmitters below on the Earth’s surface.  Most reflections last less than 1 second, but may continue up to several minutes. Meteor radio wave reflections are also called meteor echoes or events.
Related Radio Astronomy Project(s) and/or Information:

The easiest radio emissions to observe from a planet are those of Jupiter.  NASA’s Radio JOVE project enables one to observe natural radio emissions from Jupiter, the Sun, and our galaxy.
Related Radio Astronomy Project(s) and/or Information:


Data Template
You can download the data template at this location.


Useful Links
•    Radio Observing Award Programs
•    Citizen Science Radio Astronomy Award Programs
•    Links (including related topics in the SARA Listserv Archive, and SARA Journal Table of Contents)
•    References
•    edX Radio Astronomy Certificate Course



SARA is dedicated to the exploration of radio astronomy at the amateur level. Many amateurs are engaged in developing hardware, software, and methodologies to expand the limits of amateur radio observation. Such amateurs impose intriguing opportunities. With peer review, they can develop new approaches to radio astronomy observation, or offer an equally valuable dissertation on explanations to misidentified radio observations and their nature.  SARA welcomes positive diversity of opinion but does not necessarily embrace those opinions as it own.