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Semiannual Project and Activity Review January through June 2012

posted Sep 15, 2012, 10:55 AM by Simon Shupp

Posted on July 1, 2012 By Web Master

Lewis Longmont Laboratory, Longmont, Colorado
Plishner Radio Astronomy and Space Sciences Center, Haswell, Colorado

DSES members hard and dedicated work in this first half of 2012 may have the dish at the Paul Plishner Radio Astronomy and Space Sciences Center operational by September! Much work is still in progress, however, so this is just a target. Electrical power at the site is still an issue, so continuous, lengthy observations will not be possible. However, under generator and solar power, we hope to begin beam characterization studies in late fall to early winter. In the meanwhile, there is still much work to be done, so jump in and get your hands dirty!

Figure 1: Plishner dish, Haswell, under spacious skies, on fruited plains, rising to purple mountain majesties. Photo courtesy of Paul Berge, 2011.

Plishner activity in March included Paul Berge and Adam Glazer seting up a HI radio and computer receiving system in the Operations Trailer. Paul installed the HI receiver and down converter at the feed. After getting everything ready to record data, they detected no signals. After deciding the pre-amp was compromised, attempts were made to acquire another. Don Lewis later picked up a FEDEX package in Haswell from John Ewan with a new preamp. Unfortunately, this did not solve the problem. Upon testing the receiving system back at the Lewis Lab, they discovered that the receiver problem was caused by low voltage to the down converter. All was not lost as much work went in to cleaning, repairing, manufacturing, and administering at Plishner.

In May, Adam reported high winds of up to 60 MPH, as recorded on our Plishner anemometer. Along with the wind came a proportionate amount of dust that needed removing. Adam installed the Plishner sign at the entrance to the Plishner site. Paul and Adam removed the 3″ coax that was in danger of falling from the dish. Paul tipped the dish and installed a new DC power cable to the pre-amp.

Paul Berge and Don Lewis reconfigured Rodney Howe’s dish antenna to allow elevation changes to more closely track the sun for a daily 10.7cm readings. There is evidence to suggest the fluctuations in 10.7cm power levels associate to corresponding fluctuations in sunspot numbers.

The 2nd Sunspot NumberWorkshop attended by Rodney Howe and Jamie Riggs was sponsored by the Royal Observatory of Belgium (ROB), the National Solar Observatory (NSO), and the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL). While the first workshop in September, 2011, at Sunspot, New Mexico offered a panorama of all issues in the sunspot number series, the Brussels workshop focused on the progress and additional evidence addressing the key problems in understanding solar activity indices. Invited were additional European experts in the field of long-term tracers of solar activity. The goal was to make an archive of data, and progress in defining solar indices to define and update the action list in view of the next workshop, which will be in January 2013, Tucson Arizona.

(a) AAVSO sunspot data collection and archiving.(b) Les Tourelles, lodging for conference attendees.
Figure 2: Photos courtesy of Rodney Howe, 2012.

Many talks were on how past and present observatories count sunspots and sunspot groups. Much of the archived data are of drawings and logs kept in university and observatory libraries. These need to be digitized and made available as has been done by the Royal Greenwich Observatory. There were questions about AAVSO’s current method for calculating the American Relative number. To some extent statistical processing for sunspot numbers is new. The AAVSO Ra has only been adjusted once during the mid-1990s mainly to correct for what was believed to be inflation in the yearly estimates of Observer’s K factors, which adjust sunspot counts for individual observer variance. Looking back with a 15 year perspective, we can see that corrections for the AAVSO Ra number have been shown to match the Solar Influences Data Center (SIDC) international index.

DSES members attended conferences, gave presentations on DSES activities, and published papers. Rodney Howe presented on AAVSO sunspot data collection and archiving to the 2nd Sunspot Number Workshop, SIDC, Royal Observatory of Belgium, Brussels. Jamie Riggs gave a

(a) The solar dome at the Royal Observatory of Belgium.(b) A generalized linear mixed model for enumerated sunspots.
Figure 3: Photos courtesy of Rodney Howe, 2012.

presentation on the statistics of sunspot enumeration, A Generalized Linear Mixed Model for Enumerated Sunspots, first to the University of Northern Colorado Research Day in Greeley, Colorado (April 12, 2012), and then at the 2nd Sunspot Number Workshop, SIDC, Royal Observatory of Belgium, on May 22, 2012, Brussels.

DSES Organizational Opportunities

The DSES is an organization of amateur radio operators, astronomers, scientists, radio hobbyists and plain old “big equipment” nuts. Whether you like to help with organization and management, work on a keyboard, try to pull in the weak signals, want to try your hand at digital signal processing or just wonder “what is out there” and you want to see for yourself, the DSES has a place for you.

We still need your help.

The DSES wants to renew its relationship with its members and bring in some new ones as well. In addition to dish improvement projects, we are always looking for projects that use the capabilities of the dish such as radio astronomy, Earth-Moon-Earth (EME), satellite ground station uses, etc. Do you have something you think we should be adding to our abilities? Come and re-join us! Membership for a full voting member is $50/year and for an associate, non-voting member is $20/year.

Thanks to all who have joined or renewed!

Thank you for your interest in the Deep Space Exploration Society! For further information you can send email to the board members at or see our website at Our newsletter and activity reports are available on this website.