The JOVE Bulletin

small logosmall logoThe newsletter of NASA's Radio JOVE Project
"Planetary Radio Astronomy for Schools"

MARCH 2004 ISSUE - Leonard N. Garcia (QSS Group, Inc.), Editor

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The opinions expressed in this newsletter are those of the authors and not necessarily those of Radio JOVE, or NASA.


  1. The Recent Survey of Radio JOVE Participants
  2. A New Radio Spectrograph
  3. FluxDensity: a Program to Compute the Flux Density of Solar and Jovian bursts.
  4. Scouts Build Two Radio JOVE Receivers at PARI
  5. Observatory Report: Windward Community College Radio Observatory
  6. Observatory Report: University of Florida Radio Observatory
  7. Strip Charts via Your Web Browser
  8. Stream Your Own Radio JOVE Audio
  9. Reminder of a Rare Event: Transit of Venus, June 8, 2004
  10. Latest versions of useful Radio JOVE software
  11. Useful Websites for Radio JOVE
  12. Radio JOVE at a Glance

The Recent Survey of Radio JOVE Participants
by Jim Thieman (NASA's GSFC)

On March 2nd I sent out an email entitled "Have you successfully used the Radio JOVE kit?" to the radiojove email distribution list. This list contains hundreds of email addresses from those who first applied when the project was started more than 5 years ago to the most recent inclusions. The message is attached below, but, basically, the survey asked if the participants had successfully built the kit and used it to make observations. I have received 23 responses so far and the results are described below. I would still like to receive feedback from those who did not respond, so further responses from our readership would be appreciated.

Ten of the 23 replies indicated that they had successfully built the kit and had used it or were going to use it in the near future.

Six of the replies were what I would call "neutral". They may have mentioned problems but successfully overcame them and have used the kit. Some had received the kit, but had not started to build it yet or were in the process of building.

Seven answered that they had not been able to get the receiver to work or had finally gotten it to work but found the process difficult. A few of these hoped to have it working in the future.

In regard to this last "negative" category I would like to remind everyone that we are quite willing to help anyone to overcome the problem of the equipment not working. We will work with you by email or on the phone in our periodic toll-free teleconferences associated with coordinated observing sessions. Don't forget that if worse comes to worst Dick Flagg, the creator of the receiver, had offered to fix any completed Jove receiver for a flat fee of $25 plus shipping. (See Bulletin article #1 of the May, 2003 issue - Dick can be contacted at .

Thanks to those who provided responses! I welcome any additional feedback. You can send your responses to

The original message was as follows:


This e-mail is intended for those who have purchased a Radio JOVE kit. We are asking that you take a few moments to let us know if you were able to assemble the radio telescope kit successfully and if you have used it to make observations of Jupiter or the Sun. If you are a teacher, has the Radio JOVE project been helpful in the classroom (or as an after school activity)?

If you have had problems with the kit or in making use of it, we would be interested in that feedback as well.

We currently have an avid core group of individual observers but we are not aware of many school groups that seem to be participating in coordinated observing sessions or submitting data to the Radio JOVE archive. If you are participating but have not made this known to our management group we would appreciate hearing about that as well. If there is something that we can do to increase the usefulness of the Radio JOVE project to teachers and students we would like to hear your suggestions and comments.

Thank you for your time in giving us some feedback.

Best regards,

The Radio JOVE Management Team

A New Radio Spectrograph
by Richard Flagg (Windward Community College)

Many of you have visited the Jove Archive and seen spectrograms from the radio telescope at Windward Community College in Hawaii. This instrument has produced some spectacular images of solar radio bursts but Jovian spectrograms have been somewhat of a disappointment. The problem is that the antenna at WCCRO has fairly low gain and hence Jovian signals are not very strong.

A spectrograph similar to the WCCRO instrument has recently been installed at the University of Florida Radio observatory (UFRO). It is connected to the large Florida TP array - an antenna with much more gain than the WCCRO log-periodic.

The first on-the-air test took place during the Io-A storm of January 7, 2004- revealing dramatic images of L-Bursts in the 18 to 28 MHz frequency range. The following night a spectacular Io-B storm was captured using the spectrograph.

A Jupiter Io-B storm observed on January 8, 2004 using the University of Florida Radio Observatory's new spectrograph.

Both the Hawaii and Florida instruments are streaming spectrograph data over the Internet. Images from both observatories may be viewed in real time by anyone running the appropriate software. Spectrograph viewing software written by Jim Sky is available free of charge at:

The new spectrograph will be particularly useful to Radio Jove observers. Viewing activity over the 18 to 28 MHz frequency range will help them to identify Jovian signals that they observe at 20.1 MHz.

FluxDensity: a Program to Compute the Flux Density of Solar and Jovian bursts.
by Ruggero Ulivastro (NICEro Amateur Radioastronomy Observatory in NICE-France)

Many of us have a calibrated noise generator to estimate the temperature of the Jovian or Solar bursts and of the background sky, but if we compare the temperatures of the same burst recorded by different systems having different antenna gain we will see different temperatures because the power, and the associated equivalent temperature collected by the antenna, will be different. The temperatures are different but the flux density, that is, the power landing on a square meter per hertz of bandwidth will be the same.

I'm pleased to announce the availability of a simple program that calculates the flux density of the Solar and Jovian storms, as a function of the measured temperatures.

Here is a short description of this program:

The user shall enter informations about his receiving system: Frequency, Bandwidth, Antenna gain, type of cable connecting the antenna to the receiver and its length. The user shall then enter the temperature of the background sky and the temperature of the burst-plus-background as measured from the strip chart recording, The program will then show the burst and background power levels at the antenna feed point and and at the receiver input. The flux density of the burst will then be displayed. The program will also display complementary information such as the isotropic source spectral power and the source-to-antenna path loss. If the user changes a parameter, for example the temperature of the burst or the antenna gain, then the output is automatically updated.

An example of FluxDensity in action.

This program (zip file) can be freely downloaded from, unzip the file and run the setup. Any comments or questions shall be posted on the Radio Jove listserver.

Scouts Build Two Radio JOVE Receivers at PARI
by Charles Osborne (Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute)

As the technical director of the Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute (PARI, See near Rosman, NC I recently had an interesting visit from a Boy Scout Troop at PARI on the January 31st volunteer weekend. This was an indoor campout, so I had encouraged the scoutmaster to invite the parents since it would be a cushy campout by comparison to most. It would also be a good opportunity to spend time with the kids in the unusual environment at PARI. So there were almost as many parents as kids, 6 of each plus one Cub Scout brother to one of the scouts.

A couple of the parents were amateur radio operators, which spurred an idea to build Jove receiver kits. The kids dug in under my wife Janis' direction in learning the parts and soldering. The scoutmaster took me aside and said he'd never seen the kids so focused. A couple of them apparently would be your normal cut ups. But this task was just complex and interesting enough to completely absorb them. I divided the kids into two groups of three kids on each kit. And I had the completed original JOVE receiver with lid off as a visual aid.

Boy scouts had an opportunity to build a couple of Radio JOVE receivers during a visit to the Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute

Electronics wasn't the merit badge they had come to PARI to work on though. We had a late afternoon astronomy class and evening with telescopes on the agenda. So I didn't have them on the JOVE kits 100% of the time. But we did get in maybe 5 hours Saturday and 3 hours Sunday before they had to leave. In that time we were able to stuff the circuit boards and power them up so they could hear some noise out of the speaker. But we ran out of time before any alignment or troubleshooting could occur. Hearing the noise out of the speaker on something they'd built seemed to be a real hit with them. I suspect the weekend will be quite memorable for this group of 8th graders. Even the Cub Scout got his chance to learn to solder a few parts in.

Observatory Report: Windward Community College Radio Observatory
by Richard Flagg (Windward Community College)

Observations of Jupiter and the Sun continue at WCCRO. We are continuously streaming Radio-SkyPipe data, audio, spectrograms and Internet browser enabled strip-chart records. As you might guess, computers out-number radios in the observatory. URLs and links to these data may be found elsewhere in this issue of the Jove Bulletin.

During the summer of 2003 we recorded several spectacular solar radio noise bursts.

Listening conditions at the observatory have been generally satisfactory, but on occasion we are plagued by power line arcing and buzz. The azimuth antenna rotor on our log-periodic antenna froze and is currently being repaired. Until that repair is completed the antenna is being turned by hand and locked into position with clamps prior to predicted Jupiter storms.

The recent decrease in sunspot activity has led to improved listening conditions at night for Jupiter with far fewer stations to contend with then there were during the peak of Solar activity which occurred in 2001.

Observatory Report: University of Florida Radio Observatory
by Francisco Reyes (University of Florida)

The 2003-2004 Jupiter and solar observing season at UFRO

Jupiter's observations for the 2003-2004 season started at UFRO on December 11, 2003 and will continue at least until the end of April. Because of the good weather conditions (very few lightning storms) it has been possible to keep the equipment on 24 hours/day, making possible the observation of Jupiter, solar radio bursts and the galactic background emission. Late in the spring, when lightning storms become more frequent we may have to restrict the operation to nighttime hours only. All the equipment will be shut down for the summer at the end of May to prevent damage during the summer lightning season.

Each night when the planet is within the beam of the TP antenna (-3.5 to +3.5 hours Hour Angle) the output of each frequency channel at the frequencies of 18, 20, 22, 24, 26, 28, and 32 MHz are sampled at 2 samples/second and the digital data stored in the hard drive for later retrieval. For each frequency channel, both the right (RHP) and left (LHP) circularly polarized component of the emission are being sampled. The data for the whole observation of some of the predicted Io-related storms are available at the UFRO on-line website ( The live data from the 18, 20, 22 MHz TP channels (both polarizations) and the 20 MHz Radio JOVE channel are sent through the network and made available continuously, 24 hours/day in the form of a virtual strip chart recorder at the Internet Jupiter Radio Observatory (IJRO) site at Kochi National College of Technology in Japan ( The data collected when Jupiter is within the beam of the antenna is also archived at this site.

Audio Streaming

Mr. Ken Sallot our system manager has setup an ICECAST audio server. Audio is being streamed 24 hours/day from three different sources within the 24- hour period. From 10 AM to 3 PM EST, audio is streamed from the 20 MHz Radio JOVE system which allows one to listen to solar radio bursts. From 3 PM to 8 PM EST the audio stream comes from the low frequency INSPIRE receiver. From 8 PM to 5 AM the audio comes from the 20 MHz RHP TP channel for listening to Jupiter emission. Finally from 5 AM to 10 AM the audio streaming switches to the INSPIRE receiver. The audio streaming URLs are: for high speed connections and for low speed connections (modem).

New Spectrograph

On December 30, 2003 a new radio spectrograph designed and build by Richard Flagg and Jim Sky was installed at UFRO (see article in this issue). The spectrograph is connected to the TP array and operates 24 hours/day and it is accessible on the Internet using special software developed by Jim Sky. Some interesting events have been recorded by the spectrograph such as a series of N (narrow) band events during an Io-C storm on February 21, 2004 and solar radio bursts on March 5, 2004; captured images of the dynamic spectra has been uploaded to the Radio JOVE archive

Solar Observations

At present, the 20 MHz RJ antenna is pointing a few degrees to the south of the zenith. Since it has a broad N-S beam, it can detect solar bursts when the sun is within 3 hours from transit. At the present time the TP antenna is phased for observing Jupiter; since the Sun is still at southern declinations, it is outside the beam of the antenna. As the Sun moves north, it will be in a more favorable position in the sky to be observed with the TP antenna. The best period for detecting solar bursts with the TP antenna will be when the Sun enters the beam of the antenna which will be from approximately from March 25 to May 25 although strong solar bursts may be detected before and after these dates.

Strip Charts via Your Web Browser
by Jim Sky (Radio-Sky Publishing)

You can now view some Jupiter and Sun live strip charts in your web browser! These simplified charts are being streamed from a new web server located at the Windward Community College Radio Observatory in Hawaii. These charts are the same ones you see with Radio-SkyPipe software with some limitations. The charts appear in your web browser (any platform) so they can be accessed from most any computer. The charts are limited to one channel ( CH1 ) of data from any SkyPipe Server, but you can connect with as many SkyPipe Servers as you see listed. You cannot save the charts viewed from the SkyPipe Java Server.

This is an experimental system and we are working to improve it, so please bear with us. The system may not always be available. To access the SkyPipe Java Server goto:

From there click on the link to the list of available servers. Once you select a server there may be a pause while the Java code loads to your browser. The chart should begin scrolling shortly thereafter.

Stream Your Own Radio JOVE Audio
by Chuck Higgins (Middle Tennessee State University)

There is a quick and easy way to set up your computer to stream audio so that others can hear your Radio JOVE output. Audio is very important in confirming that your data are indeed a solar burst or bursts from Jupiter. Streaming audio is a great way to have others confirm your observations.

The necessary equipment needed is a computer running Windows 95 or a later version of the operating system. You also need Windows Media Player software and Windows Media Encoder software. These can be downloaded for free from many sites like ( I should mention that there are other ways to stream audio (using winamp or other software), but I am not experienced using those.

Here are a list of steps to get a system running:

  1. Download and install Windows Media Player (if your computer does not already have it) and Windows Media Encoder (I use version 7.1 for Windows 98).
  2. Run Windows Media Encoder
    1. Click Broadcast file using New Session Wizard
    2. Click Broadcast a live event from attached devices
    3. Under which devices, click the audio option only
    4. For the broadcast connection, use the default port number, or you can select to find a free port
    5. Note the URL for Internet connections
    6. Select the audio quality (select audio for dial-up modems)
    7. If you wish you can select to archive your broadcast (I do not do this)
    8. Please provide a title of your broadcast, something like your name or Radio JOVE location.
    9. Click Finish
    10. When the dialog box opens you must click Start to begin the audio stream.
    11. For others to connect, they must know your IP address and the port number. You must inform other Radio JOVE users of this information and you can do that through the Skypipe chat sessions or through email. Example URL and port number:
    12. A simple way to find your IP address is to click on the MS-DOS prompt under the Programs menu. At the prompt type ipconfig and your IP address is displayed.
  3. For others to connect, run Windows Media Player on your machine. Open URL and type the known IP address and port number of someone who is broadcasting their audio. Example: It might take a few seconds to buffer.
  4. Sit back and enjoy the sounds of Jupiter!

Best of luck, and interference-free skies!

Reminder of a Rare Event: Transit of Venus, June 8, 2004
by Jim Gass (Raytheon)

It's worth alerting our readers to a rare celestial event that will occur on June 8 of this year. On that date, the planet Venus will pass between the Sun and the Earth in a line that will make the planet's disk appear in silhouette against the Sun's photosphere. For those with a clear view of the Sun during the transit of Venus, the techniques you use to safely view sunspots will be all you need to witness this event.


See for information on safe solar viewing.

The planets' orbits do not lie precisely in the plane of the ecliptic (the plane defined by the orbit of the Earth). These orbital differences mean that Venus only appears to pass directly in front of the Sun when the timing and alignments are just right. When a planet passes in front of the Sun, it is said to be in "transit". Transits of Mercury happen every three to thirteen years. Transits of Venus are much less common. The last one happened back in 1882. After this year's transit, there will be another in 2012. But the following one won't happen until 2117! This century's two transits are described by Fred Espenak at

Who will be able to see the transit? Anyone with a clear sky where the Sun is up during Venus' passage. It will start at approximately 05:13 UTC and will end at 11:25 UTC. That means that much of Europe, Asia and Africa will see most or all of this transit, while only the end of the event will be visible in Eastern North and South America just after sunrise. Australia, Japan, and the Far East will see the first part of the transit. Because of the Earth's tilt, more of the Northern Hemisphere will have a chance to see it than the Southern Hemisphere. As a result, parts of Western Canada and Alaska will also be able to view the transit. Check the contact time predictions for various cities at the NASA/GSFC Sun-Earth Connection Education Forum's Eclipse site at

If you'd like to photograph or videotape this year's transit of Venus, I suggest that you get your set up ready soon, and practice by photographing sunspots. Practice can make the difference between success and failure when recording celestial events.

Latest versions of useful Radio JOVE software

This software may be downloaded from the Radio JOVE software page

Note: Some newer computers have shown timing problems when using Radio-SkyPipe software. This problem has been fixed in the latest version of Radio-SkyPipe. You can always find the latest version of Radio-SkyPipe by going to:

Useful Websites for Radio JOVE

Radio JOVE at a Glance


The JOVE Bulletin is published twice a year. It is a free service of the Radio JOVE Project. We hope you will find it of value.

Back issues are available on the Radio JOVE Project Web site,

For assistance or information send inquiries to:

Radio JOVE Project
Code 633
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
Greenbelt, Maryland 20771 USA


FAX: 1-301-286-1771