SFA RADIO TELESCOPES

Project Status - Current

The radio telescope system is current collecting data continuously and storing the data on the hard drive at the observatory. The data are periodically uploaded to the campus server and can be found online here.

Project Status - May 2003

Started collecting interferometry data continuously from the SW and SE dishes linked to the computer in the 10-dome. We are using 4 amplifiers and an external 12-Volt power supply. All motors appear to be working. The SW and SE mounts are calibrated.

Project Status - February 2003

Started continuously taking data from the SW dish linked to the computer in the 10-dome.

Project Status - September 2002

Began collecting data from inside the classroom using NW dish only. Signal was around 6.5 volts for Cygnus A.

Project Status - July 2002

We have collected 8 radio dishes so far. Four of these are mounted on poles and the others are in storage. The four that are installed now have level East-West axes. The East-West axes were aligned as follows: (1) We placed a 8" LX90 telescope on east side of dish, aligned it with 2 stars, and then moved it to celestial equator at east horizon. (2) We then attached a laser to the East-West axis of radio dish. (3) We then moved the radio dish until laser dot reflection (from distant trees) was seen in telescope.

The elevation motors are working for northeast (NE) and southwest (SW). Others will be tested later. The southwest telescope is powered by white and green wires (big and stripped). It also has a potentiometer which was apparently used for calibration of the dish position. Both the southwest and northeast dishes had micro-switches that stops motion.

We checked the current to the altitude motor in SW corner. At 20 volts we measured between 5 and 5.5 amps. We received the coax and 2 couplers from distributor. We are preparing to order more from The Wireman.

Project Status - June 2002

The SFA Observatory is expanding and is getting help from the community and SFA alumni and friends. SFA astronomers are installing several radio telescopes at the observatory. Graduate student, Michael Johnson, started the project as part of his work toward a master’s degree.

The project will be funded largely through donations from alumni and friends of the Department of Physics and Astronomy. The money will be used to purchase the receivers for the radio telescopes. The observatory will benefit from having several of the telescopes because the image created by combining the signals of many is much clearer than that received by only one. Astronomers are using 10-foot radio dishes, such as the ones that were once used to pick up satellite TV signals. Dr. Dan Bruton and Mr. Michael Johnson have collected four dishes so far from the yards of Nacogdoches residences.

While optical telescopes are able to accurately measure light only in clear conditions, the radio telescopes can be used in cloudy weather and can be used to gather information 24-hours a day, even when researchers are not at the location. The first project planned after the radio telescopes have been installed will be to map the Milky Way Galaxy. Here's a diagram of the radio telescope arrangement.

With the help of Don Carona from the Texas A&M observatory we have made a GPS map of the site to measure the distances between the radio telescopes. We have also purchased 3.5” diameter poles and concrete for the radio telescopes and placed order for radio receivers from Radio Astronomy Supplies.

On June 10th an article appeared in the Daily Sentinel. We received 36+ phone calls and 12+ email messages from Nacogdoches citizen that wanted to donate their 10-foot radio dishes.

Project Status - May 2002

So far, the observatory has received half an acre of land from the SFASU Walter C. Todd Beef Farm which doubled the space already available. The beef farm is maintained by the Department of Agriculture at Stephen F. Austin State University. Michael Johnson, Steve Scurlock, Kris Byboth and Dan Bruton removed part of the old fence and built a the new fence during the first few weeks of May. The Department of Physics and Astronomy at SFA funded this project.

Acknowledgements

We are grateful for the donations and support of the following groups.

The radio astronomy project was initiated at SFA by Michael Johnson as part of his graduate research. For more information contact Dan Bruton or check out the SFA Observatory.