So, I've been starting to investigate radio astronomy, and am wondering about if certain things are possible from an amateur standpoint. I was looking at this powerpoint(that discusses building a tiny radio telescope), http://nightsky.jpl.nasa.gov/download-redirect.cfm?Doc_ID=347&Doc_Filename=IBTcom1%2Eppt .

On Slides 11, 12, and 13, it shows various radio emissions overlayed on the orion constellation. As well as Slide 17 and 18.

I'm wondering, is the data acquired in these images, doable from an amateur standpoint? From previous research I think I can build some detection devices for the Hydrogen Line emission(1420Mhz/21cm line), and that could lead to data(per my initial/basic understanding) that's shown in image 1. Am I right in that assumption, and are the other emissions or data doable from an amateur standpoint?

  • $\begingroup$ I'm no expert, so first as a comment: note that with a radio dish you can only detect one point (pixel) at a time. If you want to create an image like the ones you mention, you need to record every pixel individually. Alonh with tracking the radio source this requires a lot of time and effort to get an image even remotely similar. My guess is that this a too big of an ambition. I think you should be happy to detect any passing radio source (star, planet, pulsar, our milkyway's black hole, ...) while holding your dish stationary. $\endgroup$ – agtoever Feb 20 '15 at 17:55

There are tons a amateur radio astronomy clubs and groups. Radio Astronomy was basically started by an amateur named Grote Reber, where he basically did the experiment that you are pondering to do in 1937 in his backyard in Wheaton, Illinois. You can visit that exact instrument at the NRAO facility in Green Bank, West Virginia. It was named a National Historic Landmark in 1989.

Just Google Amateur Radio Astronomy



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  • $\begingroup$ You'll also be fascinated to know that if you do in fact make an amateur radio telescope, that you will see far more than just stars passing over head. You will be see signal coming from everywhere in the milky way. cfa.harvard.edu/mmw/MilkyWayinMolClouds.html. $\endgroup$ – aapponi Jul 9 '15 at 20:18
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    $\begingroup$ slookabill's looking not for general amateur radio astronomy information, but information about the specific case cited. $\endgroup$ – HDE 226868 Jul 9 '15 at 21:06
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    $\begingroup$ I would tend to say no since the resolution that is required to obtain that sort of detail would require a rather large dish operating at 21 cm. Let's see how large: the rule of thumb is that the resolving power of the antenna, theta = 1.22 * lambda / D where theta is in radians and lambda and D are in meters. To acheive 1 degree resolution would require a 15 meter antenna. The maps shown in those slides had at least that sort of resolution. You can sort it out for yourself, if you modified an old c-band antenna with about 2 meter diameter, the resolution at 21 cm is about 7 degrees, $\endgroup$ – aapponi Jul 14 '15 at 2:14

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