The Radio JOVE project welcomes teachers, students, amateur scientists, ham radio operators and anyone interested in learning more about radio astronomy. You can build our radio telescope kit, use your own equipment, or just join in via the Internet. One of our main goals is to motivate students to learn about science by participating in a scientific activity, making measurements, acquiring and analyzing data, and sharing and discussing their results with other observers.
The Radio JOVE project has developed a low cost radio telescope kit which is used to receive radio signals from the Sun, the planet Jupiter, and the Galaxy. The signals are recorded, displayed, analyzed and archived using free Radio Jove software. An internet connection will allow students to view and share data with other observers around the globe.
The kit is intended for advanced middle school, high school, and introductory college students. Many teachers have supervised construction of the kit in after-school science clubs. Students spend about 8 hours building the receiver kit using basic hand tools and a soldering iron. No specialized electronic test equipment is required. The antenna is constructed out of wire, PVC pipe, ropes and stakes.
The radio telescope kit contains:
The masts, ropes, and stakes for supporting the antenna are not included in the kit. Common hand tools used to put the receiver kit together, such as a soldering iron, wire cutters, screwdriver, etc are not included as many schools have these materials and tools already. The cost of tools and antenna support materials typically runs between $50 and $100, depending on what is already on hand. Recommendations for specific tools and materials are in the kit assembly manuals. See the Kit Request Page for ordering information.
[ Note: You may also purchase the RJ1.1 receiver as a built and tested unit. ]
The strongest radio source is the Sun. Solar radio bursts cannot be predicted in advance, however, they occur most frequently during periods of high sunspot activity. As a first activity with the Jove radio telescope we recommend daytime monitoring of the sun. A single 24-foot long dipole antenna mounted on 10-foot tall masts is required. (The Jove kit includes wire, insulators and cables for two dipoles -- both of which are needed for Jupiter).
After making solar observations you may want to step up to the challenge of receiving signals from Jupiter. Jupiter signals are more predictable but weaker than solar bursts. The best time to listen for Jupiter is from late in the evening until shortly after sunrise. Free software (Radio Jupiter Pro) is used to predict when to listen during the nighttime hours. Jupiter Radio Storm Predictions are also available on the Radio JOVE website.
For Jupiter observations the dual dipole array should be set up in a location that is relatively free from electrical interference. This may be possible near some schools, or it may be necessary to make a nightime field trip to a radio quiet location away from power lines and other sources of interference. The dual dipole antenna array requires a space approximately 30 x45 feet.
Solar and Jupiter radio bursts can be viewed on a desktop or laptop computer running the Radio-SkyPipe software package. This program generates a strip-chart representation of the data and allows you to view other observer's records via the Internet, share your records in real-time over the internet, and chat with other Jove observers and professional radio astronomers.
Some schools may not be able to build and operate the radio telescope kit but they can still participate with the Jove Project via the Internet.
Two professional radio observatories -- one in Florida, and one in Hawaii -- stream audio as well as SkyPipe data and radio spectrographs in real time over the Internet. You are invited to link to these observatories. See the links on the On-Line Observatories Page. If you are operating your own radio telescope you can compare your results with the Florida or Hawaii decametric radio astronomy stations. If you don't have the radio telescope, you can still view and listen to radio noise bursts from the Sun and Jupiter from these observatories.
A central Radio JOVE data archive maintained by NASA scientists accepts files of data from observing groups around the world and makes them available for schools and scientists to see and hear. The Jove website contains general information and activities relevant to the understanding of radio astronomy and, in particular, how to order, build, use, and understand the data from the Jove radio telescope kit.
Dr. Joseph Ciotti of the University of Hawaii Windward Community College has prepared an educational CD for the Jove Project. This multimedia CD-R disc, called the "Visual Primer to Radio JOVE" features exciting presentations on the Basics of Radio Astronomy, Jupiter as a Radio Source, the Radio Sun, and the Cosmic Background. The CD and the radio telescope kit are available to order on the Kit Request page. >
If you are interested in participating either by building a kit, making observations with your own equipment, or simply observing via the Internet we welcome you to join the Jove Team. To keep you up to date on current observations and predicted noise storms the Jove Project sends out official e-mail notifications and newsletters. To receive these occasional e-mail notifications, you should fill out a Radio JOVE application form. The questions that you answer on this application form will help us to serve you better. To join the Radio JOVE Team please take a moment to fill out this form.
When you join the Jove team and submit an application you will be placed on an e-mail list for announcements of predicted noise storms, coordinated observing sessions, bulletins and other "official" Radio JOVE Project information originating from the Radio JOVE management team. Of course you can unsubscribe from this list at any time.
The Radio Jove materials are suitable for inclusion in a ninth grade Physical and Earth Sciences curriculum as well as twelfth grade Physics. The problem of course is how to integrate this additional and supplemental material with an already full curriculum schedule. Several teachers have used Jove Project materials successfully in an after-school science club setting.
Radio Astronomy provides an avenue for expanding our understanding of the Universe. The radio waves we observe are generated by the interaction of charged particles and magnetic fields - interactions that cannot be observed in visible light. Waves, charged particles, magnetic fields, the electromagnetic spectrum, and radio waves are physical science topics related to radio astronomy. Earth science topics include planetary magnetic fields and volcanic activity as observed on Jupiter's moon Io. Physics-related topics include the formation of planetary magnetic fields, atomic energy levels and ionization, the movement and acceleration of charged particles in magnetic fields and the generation of electromagnetic waves. Building the Jove radio telescope teaches basic electricity and practical electronics, including identification and function of electronic components such as resistors, capacitors, inductors, transistors and integrated circuits. The use of hand tools and soldering skills are learned by assembling the receiver and antenna kit.
Teachers will be interested in our extensive educational materials, as well as the alignment of Radio JOVE classroom materials with the National Science Content Standards.