26 May 2016 – Video Evening

We had an eclectic mix of subjects starting with two short videos that explained the rationale behind the planned Square Kilometre Array Radio Telescope being planned by a consortium of countries.  Whilst 10 member countries are the core of the SKA, around 100 organisations across about 20 countries have been participating in the design and development of the SKA and are now engaged in the detailed design of the telescope.

To quote The Guardian: The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) is a huge project designed to sweep away many of the current roadblocks to astronomical progress. These include searching for the first celestial objects to form in the universe, investigating whether we need to develop a new theory of gravity, and looking for the building blocks of life in space.

Another short video showed the Intrepid-DX Team and their journey and operations on South Sandwich Island. Amongst hundreds of penguins, the team set up antennas on the rocky ground soon to be covered with a deep layer of snow.  The total number of contacts made were 54,641 between January 18 to January 25.  Not shown was their QSY to South Georgia where they did it all again!

In order to get back to some warm weather, the next clip was about the 2009 DXpedition to Midway Island.  The emerald blue sea has to been seen to be believed. The pileups were as big as ever for a major DXpedition.

Midway Island
Midway Island

19 May 2016 – Top Band DF Hunt

Ian  reporting on the top band fox hunt last night:

The fox was in its ‘hole’ on the edge of ‘Bellcote Meadow, Millennium Green Breathing Spaces’ This is a recreational area behind the houses down Purcell Way which is off the Clifton Road Shefford, slightly east of Hong Kong House Chinese takeaway.

We were found by a single hound in 34minutes (2034 BST) whose name tag read Alan G4PSO. The remaining hounds were found eventually by the fox where they were rehydrating themselves in the Brewery Tap.

Rig comprised Kenwood TS-480 25 watts to a centre loaded whip on a steel base plate and mat of chicken wire.

Ian, G3ORG (fox 1)  and Martin, M6CSI (fox 2)

12 May 2016 – “New Horizons” or why it has taken 18 months to get photographs from Pluto


Gareth, M5KVK  began by saying his talk would focus on US space probes starting in 1958 with the launch of the sub orbital Explorer satellite which resulted in the discovery of the Van Allen Belt. He then detailed each launch through the years and how each built on the knowledge learned from earlier flights. How the problem of a power supply was solved for use beyond the influence of the sun and how communications had to be improved to cope with the increased distances when images can be as large as 10Mb each, which explains why they take so long to be transmitted the almost five billion miles to earth!

close up Pluto

On July 14 the telescopic camera on NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft took the highest resolution images ever obtained of the intricate pattern of “pits” across a section of Pluto’s prominent heart-shaped region, informally named Tombaugh Regio. The image is part of a sequence taken by New Horizons’ Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) as the spacecraft passed within 9,550 miles (15,400 kilometres) of Pluto’s surface, just 13 minutes before the time of closest approach.