The JOVE Bulletin

small logosmall logoThe newsletter of the Radio JOVE Project
"Solar and Planetary Radio Astronomy for Schools"

June 2022 Issue - Leonard N. Garcia (KBR), 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.

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  1. Radio Astronomy and Engineering at Saint Francis University (SFU), Loretto, Pennsylvania
  2. SFU's RISE Meets Quantum Quest Fest
  3. Radio JOVE 2.0 Beta Testers: Pulsar Observations Group at University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia
  4. Radio JOVE 2.0 Beta Testers: Angelo State University, San Angelo, Texas
  5. In Memoriam: Bill Lord
  6. The Jupiter Observing Season 2022
  7. Watch live-streamed Radio JOVE data on YouTube!
  8. Useful web sites for Radio JOVE
  9. Goals of the Radio JOVE Project
  10. The JOVE Bulletin Information

Radio Astronomy and Engineering at Saint Francis University (SFU), Loretto, Pennsylvania
by Dr Lanika Ruzhitskaya, Saint Francis University

We would like to share an update on our Radio JOVE project that we started last year at Saint Francis University (SFU) at Loretto, Pennsylvania. Our project was set up as a collaboration between our engineering and astronomy faculty and undergraduate students. We envisioned the project as a student-driven initiative during which the students learn the basics of astronomy and electrical engineering, and gain skills like soldering and reading circuit boards. The university provided us with the initial funding to purchase two Radio JOVE 1.1 kits and approved a piece of land with an open horizon.

Our team, consisting entirely of female students (and two professors), just finished the building stage of our two radio telescopes. We now have two ready-to-be-tested, dual dipole antennas, working receivers, and a site that is free from nearby buildings. While working on the project, our ambitions and goals grew into our Rural Institute for Space Sciences and Engineering (RISE). And so, RISE is the name of the first radio telescope built at Saint Francis University.

We are now ready to put our antennas in place and start collecting data. In the process, we expect to learn and improve on how to analyze the data and how to improve on our setup. We hope to receive our first signal this June. Faculty and students are excited to “see” the Sun and Jupiter and perhaps give mapping the ionosphere and the Milky Way a try.

Word of the project spread across the campus, and many expressed their excitement and interest in radio astronomy. At last, at a location that averages 160 cloudy days per year, we will be able to direct our eyes to the sky.

Our current (and first) Radio JOVE team consists of Megan Oyaski, Anna Belle Stover, McKenzie Watt, and Drs. Lanika Ruzhitskaya and Tim Miller, with more students waiting to join.

Figure 1. Tuning the oscillator - it's loud! Br. Marius, from an office down the hall, came by to see what the fuss was all about. Dr. Miller, Megan Oyaski, McKenzie Watt, and Anna Belle Stover are taking turns tuning the oscillator.
Figure 2. Installing toroids and connectors. Stripping a wire is not as easy as one may think. It takes a student to do it and two instructors to watch. Megan Oyaski

SFU's RISE Meets Quantum Quest Fest
by Dr Lanika Ruzhitskaya, Saint Francis University

A new Radio JOVE telescope, christened RISE (Rural Institute for Space Sciences and Engineering), at Saint Francis University has not been tested in the field yet, but it was already introduced to 340 upper elementary and middle school children from nearby rural schools. The RISE telescope was part of Quantum Quest Fest, a three-day event designed to celebrate achievements in science and technology with local schools. This year, children from six schools came to the university campus to participate in a number of hands-on activities after they watched an animated educational movie Quantum Quest: A Cassini Space Odyssey in a 3-D movie theater. Children learned about electromagnetic radiation and how light interacts with matter. During these activities they learned about radio waves, different types of radio telescopes and antennas, and of course about NASA’s Radio JOVE project.

Figure 1. McKenzie Watt demonstrates how to test a Radio JOVE 1.1 receiver using a voltmeter.
Figure 2. At the Radio Astronomy station during Quantum Quest Fest, Dr. Tim Miller and McKenzie Watt are teaching middle school children about the light we cannot see.

Radio JOVE 2.0 Beta Testers: Pulsar Observations Group at University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia
by Jee-Ho Kim, University of Virginia

We are the Pulsar Observation Group at the University of Virginia. Our goal is to introduce students of all backgrounds to astronomical research and teach skills that can be applied to a wide breadth of STEM domains. We also aim to educate students on the history of pulsars and associated research topics, such as gravitational waves and radio astronomy.

For the past few years, our club has worked solely on collecting and analyzing data. Our goal in reaching out to the NASA Radio JOVE team was to add a hands-on component to the club experience. Building a dipole antenna would allow students to understand the technology and physics used to collect data. This hopefully builds a firsthand perspective to identify sources of error as well as areas of improvement for cleaner and more sensitive data.

What did we do?
Over the spring semester we built and tested the Radio JOVE 2.0 telescope kit. To accomplish this, we secured permission to build the telescope at Fan Mountain Observatory outside of Charlottesville, Virginia. Before going out to the observatory, we worked in a lab to teach some of the club’s underclassmen practical skills like how to solder electrical connections, making power and signal transmission networks, and verifying functionality with conductivity tests. They also learned the science behind how a dipole picks up electromagnetic signals. We then went to Fan Mountain Observatory and installed the radio telescope. In April, the club took trips to our radio telescope, about once a week, to take data and introduce our members to analyzing data sets.

Building experience
Once we received the radio telescope kit, we used the building process as an opportunity to teach underclassmen. Before going on site, we spent two weekends testing the receiver and fabricating the instrumentation. We had one team work on putting together telescope parts and another team go through the receiver and software setup manual and compile feedback. Both teams were led by executive members of the club—our building experience was completely undergraduate-run.

Figure 1. Images of the University of Virginia team building the dipole antenna.

Observing experience
We spent three Saturdays observing with our telescope at Fan Mountain Observatory, each time for a little over one hour. Our goal was to allow different members to join us and see how real data was collected—we walked underclassmen through the Radio-Sky Spectrograph software and how we set everything up to collect data. We include below a figure presenting one hour’s worth of raw data taken on April 9.

Figure 2. Test Data from the University of Virginia Radio JOVE 2.0 system.

What did we learn?
We gained valuable experience with the hands-on building of the Radio JOVE 2.0 telescope and working with electrical equipment, explored some cool aspects of electromagnetic radiation and how it can be measured using a dipole antenna, and the overall process of scientific data collection. Communicating with the Radio JOVE team and the UVA Astronomy department gave us insight into how scientific collaborations operate. To obtain permission to set up our telescope on Fan Mountain, we created a proposal detailing what we planned to do and our timeline for completing our goals and presented it to the Astronomy department’s Observatory Committee—this was our first time putting together a formal presentation as a club, and it ended up being a great learning experience for us all.

Statement on usefulness (why the kit is a good educational product):
We think that Radio JOVE is great because it’s a reasonably accessible way to take real astronomical data. It’s something that can be set up in a few hours with a little space and with a little configuration you can start collecting radio data! It would be a great way to introduce students to electromagnetic radiation and the different properties that different wavelengths of light have. For example, it would be great to show how the dipole can pick up radio waves even when it’s cloudy or the sun is out. It would also be a useful tool for showing students how scientific data can be collected and analyzed in a simple way, going from detection by the dipole to the electrical signal to the software where it can be directly seen. It would be a great project to get kids outside, building, problem solving, and doing real science!

Figure 3. The University of Virginia Pulsar Observation Group and their dipole antenna.

Quotes from the team:
“It was a great learning experience shared with great friends.” -William
“Working with the Pulsar Club on this telescope was a great way to get outside, meet some upperclassmen and talk about physics, and do some real science!” -Sam
“I’m really glad we were able to work on this very cool beta-testing project with underclassmen! It was amazing that we were able to bring together a group of physics, astronomy, engineering, chemistry, and other STEM majors this semester.” - Jee-Ho
“This was an amazing opportunity! I loved going up the mountain where we set up this telescope with friends from many backgrounds to collect data. It truly gave me a taste of how interesting radio astronomy can be.” - Louis Seyfritz
“My biggest takeaway was seeing how dedicated students from all corners of STEM came together to make this effort possible. It facilitated team bonding through tackling antenna construction and allowed us to become more established among our local scientific community.” -Zach
“The best part of building the radio telescope was interacting with the diverse community that the Pulsar Observation Group has been able to build in a new and unique way” -Jason Boynewicz

Radio JOVE 2.0 Beta Testers: Angelo State University, San Angelo, Texas
by Eric Ji, Angelo State University

Under my Astrophysics professor, Dr. Kenneth Carrell’s advice and my interest in radio telescopes, we first found the Radio JOVE project last year. By the time we started the project with research funding in January 2022, the Radio JOVE 1.1 system was no longer available. Thankfully Dr. Chuck Higgins introduced us to the Radio JOVE 2.0 Beta version and allowed us to be a beta tester.

The package we received had everything except the pole masts. The manuals were highly detailed on the theory behind Radio JOVE and instructions on both installing the radio telescope and using the software. The only concern about the manual is that it was lacking data processing information. We have collected cool spectrograph data, but we did not know what was happening specifically. We had to contact Dr. Higgins for data from different telescopes on the same date, so we can compare and distinguish between local and global events. Also, even if we filter out global events, we did not know how to specify them, so we used data from the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) and Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) to confirm solar flare activity. If there were added calibration processes for other activities, it would be more helpful.

For the pole mast, the manual says the budget will be $70~100, but this was off by a large amount. We bought all the materials from Lowes and Home Depot, and the total was ~$200. Thankfully we had extra budget from the money saved from the lower cost of the newer version.

We first tried installing the radio telescope inside a building close to the window. However due to all the interference in the building, we couldn’t get any useful data.Then, we installed the telescope outside in a field for 2 hours. Unfortunately, we could not get any distinguishable solar activity. But we got “sweeper” signals periodically, so we knew it worked.

The reason that we only ran for 2 hours is that it was really hot, and we didn’t want to keep the radio telescope and the laptop outside in public for too long. So, we decided to install the telescope on the rooftop of a building we had access to and hold the masts upright using cinder blocks. We could not avoid the interference coming from the building, but it allowed us to take data for a much longer duration.

With one full day of data collection on April 21st, we could not specify much, but we captured solar flare activity. The reason that we are sure that this is a solar flare is that while taking data, we also were watching spectrographs from other telescopes from different locations, and they also had strong signals. Also, later when we checked X-ray data recorded from GOES, there was a high signal of solar activity in that timeline. There were other activities recorded on GOES that did not register on our telescope, and we think the reason is because they are much stronger signals, and may not have energy in the spectrum that our telescope can detect (radio waves are much lower energy than x-rays). To minimize local interference, we only used the bandwidth of 19.990-19.995 MHz and 20.005-20.010 MHz, because they are small gaps allocated as “Space Research”, so, according to the US Department of Commerce, they are radio, mobile, and military signal free.

So, we have recorded the Sun and its solar activity, but not Jupiter or the Milky Way. Or maybe we do not know how to distinguish them in our data. But we consider our work a success - the purpose of our Radio JOVE project was to create and test a radio telescope in an easy and affordable way. Installation was a two-man job, but it was not difficult, and with a total cost of ~$400, it is much cheaper than Arecibo Observatory.

Thank you, Dr. Higgins, for supporting us with this project. 

Figure 1. Radio telescope setup on the roof top
Figure 2. Spectrograph with a solar flare event on April 21st 17:20:00~17:26:00 UTC (Local time was 12:20:00~12:26:00).
Figure 3. Flare from GOES (red), our signal (blue), and local Sun’s altitude (green) for April 21st.
Figure 4. (from left to right) Eric Ji (the author), Troy Long, Conner Dempsey, and Dr. Kenneth Carrell. Ji, Long and Dempsey built the dipole antennas.

In Memoriam: Bill Lord

The Radio JOVE community is deeply saddened by the loss of one of our projects great supporters, Bill Lord of the Society of Amateur Radio Astronomers (SARA). In particular, Bill and his wife Melinda led the SARA grant program which allowed underrepresented schools and individuals from around the world to take part in learning science by building and operating their own Radio JOVE kits. Bill will be remembered for his dedication, friendship and fellowship to the members of the Radio JOVE program.

Figure 1. Bill Lord (seated on the left) serving at the SARA and Radio JOVE booth at the Dayton Hamvention with Jim Thieman (standing) and Tom Hagen (seated on the right) .

The Jupiter Observing Season 2022
by Dave Typinski, AJ4CO Observatory

The next Jupiter observing season will start in late May 2022 and run through late December 2022. The diagrams below explain how this Jupiter observing season comes about.

Jupiter emission varies smoothly from quite strong during opposition to very weak during conjunction. The dates given below are only rough guidelines to the part of the year in which watching for Jupiter is more profitable for an observer using the JOVE dual dipole array. It is possible to observe stronger Jovian emission weeks or months into the off-season if the emission power is high enough to make up for the added propagation distance, thicker terrestrial ionosphere, and increased daytime terrestrial band noise. Such occurrences are rare. Increased antenna directivity can extend the length of the useful observing season by bringing weaker point-source Jovian signals further above the whole-sky-source galactic background and terrestrial interference.

View from North Ecliptic Pole
View Looking Toward Southern Horizon

A table of Jupiter observing season dates from 2010 through 2060 and plots of Jupiter's elongation from 2007 through 2054 are available at the Radio JOVE web site here:

Watch live-streamed Radio JOVE data on YouTube!
by Chuck Higgins Middle Tennessee State University
Figure 1. Larry Dodd provides a live-stream of his Radio JOVE system on YouTube at

Radio JOVE team member Larry Dodd live-streams his radio spectrograph data and audio on YouTube. The spectrograph data come from an SDRplay radio operating over the 16 – 24 MHz frequency range. The audio is streamed from an original Radio JOVE receiver at 20.1 MHz. See and hear his live data here:

Larry’s live-streamed data is very helpful to people to see/hear solar and Jupiter radio bursts that don’t have their own equipment. Also, it is a great way to verify your own data with other results. As evidence of that, here is a testament from J. A. Jimenez from Spain:

“I want to thank Larry Dodd for the opportunity to access his radio spectrograph on YouTube. Our students at AstroLab (a Spanish Online Astronomy School) can now look for Jupiter Radio Emissions as a science project for class. We tried to do this with other online SDR receptors without results. Now they have found Sun and Jupiter activity.”

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Useful web sites for Radio JOVE

Goals of the Radio JOVE Project

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The JOVE Bulletin Information

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,

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Radio JOVE Project
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