Nestled in amongst the eucalyptus trees and the protective hills of the Great Dividing & Teviot Ranges, is the location of the SETI Research & Community Institute's Space Centre . Located in the
Boonah Shire, a small rural township approximately 1 hours drive (95kms) south of Brisbane, the centre will be a hub of activity for Radio and Optical SETI and will provide a valuable contribution to SETI Research when the Space Centre is finally completed
The Artists views above provided by
Anthony Donovan, Architect. We are grateful to him for donating his time and effort to provide us with these artistic renditions.
Where Is the Seti Site??
This map will assist you in finding out where we are. From Brisbane travel south towards Ipswich and then onto the Cunningham Highway. We are located about 6km south of the township of Aratula. Turn left at the Spicer's Gap sign (Lake Moogerah rd) and travel 1km past the Ski Zone
road intersection. Use the map
at left in case you get lost.. or if you are arriving by air this is
how the site looks from about 500ft (175m). One of my friends, Dane,
is a helicopter pilot and we went on a flight to the observatory so
we could get a look from the air. The hi-res picture is quite large
at 1mb in size so depending on your connection speed it may take a
few minutes to load.
The Picture at left shows a view of the control building and some of the dishes we have collected over the past year. At each end of this building there is a room that will be for on site accommodation for visitors and technical staff. The picture at right is our second building that will be the caretakers cottage when completed. These buildings are being renovated with materials obtained from our sponsors and friends. Many volunteers lend a hand at weekends doing carpentry, earth moving and even mowing the lawns on the 2 Acre (.7 ha) property. The two pictures below are of the same buildings at the site taken 6 weeks apart. You can see that the Caretakers Cottage has nearly been completed with only the inside finishing off to be completed together with some exterior paneling. The Control room building still needs to have two doors fitted and some interior finishing off. Note how the grass has grown in this short time. The grounds are bare earth in the above pictures but nature fixed that problem quickly.
Recently our project was donated a fully fitted out shipping container that was previously used to house the radio transmitting equipment for a local (Brisbane) radio station
Classic FM 4MBS. Seti is very grateful to the station operators for their generous donation of this much needed building that will house all of our radio telescope receivers and equipment needed to drive the dishes.
The picture below left & below right are of the original location up on Mt Coot-tha where it started life as a temporary home for the radio station's transmitting equipment. When the new building for the transmitted was completed the transmitters were moved and the container became surplus to the radio stations requirements.
The move to Boonah by Kevin our truck driver, went off without any problems and with the help of Dr Wayne Thresher and son David who assisted with the tough relocation job.
Below is a shot of the container at its final destination with Wayne (in front) and David standing proudly on top. Wayne and David came from New Zealand on holiday for a break and to help out at Boonah. Thanks Guys .
The Photo above centre is of the thresher family who came to Brisbane on holiday, and also to do some constructive work at the Boonah site. From left is Dr Wayne Thresher, Daughter-in-law Lauranne, Wife Anne and son David seen here at Brisbane Airport. What a great time we had with them during their stay with us!!!
One of our regular volunteers is a local Boonah resident, retired engineer Ron Waghorn . Ron appeared on site one Saturday morning and told us he wanted to help out with our project as he had always had an interest in space and believed that it was only a matter of time before someone detected a signal from another civilization. Ron is there every weekend helping out and we are very happy to have his help. At morning tea Ron conducts some very lively debates on all manner of subjects. Sometimes he even lets us win points during the discussion????
It's not all fun and games when we are down at the Observatory. There are lots of chores that we must do on a regular basis. The Australian summers are the time when most of the plant growth occurs and this means mowing the lawns and trimming the trees. Here is Henk Mulder adjusting the grass slasher after a hard days work on the observatory grounds. Every weekend we have a group who comes to Boonah for the day to help out. The local pub was a welcome site at the end of the day!!
Even in the Australian rural township of Boonah it's not safe to leave your valuables unattended. Over the past year we have had our share of equipment and materials disappearing off the site. As a result of these thefts, we have decided to employ the services of a caretaker at the Observatory. Mr. Ron Welstead (Noel Welstead's brother) has agreed to make the Observatory his home as soon as the caretakers cottage has been completed. Uncle Dick, as he is affectionately known, spends every available Saturday on site lending a hand.
We thought it was time to show a site view of the Observatory as it's progress continues. The Optical Observatory dome can be seen in both views. Soon the optical telescope will be installed for testing and calibration. Our radio telescope dishes can be seen in various stages of assembly. The lawns have been mowed by our caretaker, Ron Welstead and the site is looking pretty good!!
Commencement of drilling operations for the Seti Optical Observatory has begun with the drilling of the hole for the telescopes steel mount (left). Finally the Pier for the Optical Telescope has been drilled and the steel pipe has been concreted into the ground (at right). Carl Conran (in green shirt) from Mills Engineers kindly came on site with his drilling rig to complete the task. Ron Welstead assisted Carl with the placement of the pipe that protects the wall of the hole from collapsing in on itself. Next we will form up the concrete slab for the building to stand on. Thanks guy's for a successful, good days work.
The work on the Optical dome building is well underway with the foundations being dug out (by hand) ready for the mesh and waterproofing soon to be added prior to the pouring of the concrete slab. The building will be 3.6m in diameter (12ft) for our Imperial readers and house the Celestron C-14 Telescope.
At left is the Optical Telescope slab with the water proofing plastic and reinforcing mesh ready for the concrete. One of our sponsors, Brian Cox Builders provided all the structural materials for the slab and CSR READYMIX kindly donated the Concrete and delivered it to the site. Henk Mulder and Brechan Skene (at right) provided their time and energy on the day being laborers shoveling concrete and barrowing gravel. After the hard days work we all adjourned to the Aratula Hotel for a well deserved Beer.
The Slab for the optical Observatory is now ready for the wall frames and Roof to be installed. All the cable ducts are inside the slab and are ready for the cables to the outside world. In a week, the work will continue with this project that is now well underway and this facility should see first light in approximately one month (end of
The Frames of the Optical Seti building were prefabricated in Brisbane by building firm Brian Cox Builders and transported to the site ready for assembly onto the new slabs. Dr Wayne Thresher from new Zealand assists with the assembly job which was so easy due to the pre- manufacture of the building components. Above and at right is the job of the cladding completed and now we are waiting for the dome frame to be delivered.
Dr. Thresher is an avid naturalist and marveled at the Gecko that he found living in one of our buildings. July is winter in Australia and this sleepy Gecko was an easy catch. We have an abundance of wildlife that comes to visit us at the site including kangaroo's, bandicoots koala's and many other native inhabitants of the area.
Whilst waiting for the delivery of the Optical building dome roof we decided that it was time to get the first dish up off the ground. This dish will be our 11ghz radio telescope and is shown without the sub reflector and feed horn. The picture at left shows the dish sitting on a special rack made by the
Brisbane Axle and Trailer Components (B.A.T.C) prior to lifting. Our thanks to Les, Robbie and the lovely Carla for their help with the stand. At right is the dish being supported by the frame and some stabilization props. Next week the quad-pod and feed will be installed making the dish look a little more familiar. If you think that lifting this dish manually was easy then I'm here to tell you that it wasn't!!
The final building for the caretakers section of the observatory is finally in place next to the original unit moved onto the site a year ago. This module will become the laundry, bathroom shower that visitors will use when on site working and living for short periods of time. Ron Welstead (Noel's Brother) has agreed to be the caretaker and live on site. Over the next few months the new module will be refitted with new interior fittings so as to be as comfortable as possible.
The Dome for the Optical Telescope building is ready for transporting to the site from it's place of manufacture at Stainless Tanks Pty Ltd. Pictured inside the dome is our friend Peter McIntyre. The structure will be moved shortly to the Observatory site where it will be mated to the building that has been constructed to house the Celestron C-14 Telescope.
The dome frame is finally on site and the base ring is mounted on top of the building frame. Mike Boggan is seen here (above right) drilling the holes for the mounting screws that hold the track that the dome will move around on. At left is the building with the dome sitting on top. At right is the dome pictured at night complete with bearings that allow the dome to rotate. Also visible are the braces that stabilize the structure. Great job guy's, we are nearly there!! From left to right is Brechan Skene, Chris Simpson, Ron Welstead, Noel Welstead and Mike Boggan.
The final shape of the Dome is now becoming apparent with the fitting of the supports that will hold the PVC sheeting in place. The drop down hatch is visible in both views and the curved door that exposes the telescope's viewing aperture (not shown) sits on top of the structure. Soon, the large door will be fitted and motorized as will be the rotational drive that rotates the dome to allow us to view any part of the sky we want to observe.
Braving 45c degree temperatures, construction of the dome for the observatory has been steadily progressing. The structural components are now fitted and the cladding of "Foamex" 4mm PVC sheeting is now being applied. This is an arduous task as each sheet has to be custom fitted as each segment is slightly different from the rest. The next visit should see the cladding job completed. You can see the final dome shape emerging from this set of photos.
Mike Boggan our newest helper has spent a lot of time on the site assisting us with the construction of the Seti Optical Observatory building. He is seen here on top of the scaffold (top left) securing the dome support frame with Noel. The dome shaped roof was very difficult to construct as the accuracy of the shape was important to get right or it would look untidy. At centre is the almost finished building waiting for the curved sliding door that will be the aperture to the sky for the Celestron C-14 telescope. At right is Noel taking a rest from the two days hard work and pondering on how the sliding door will operate!! At left Is Mike's son David (right) and his best mate Jessie. Jes came along to see what we actually do and of course to help out. A game of pool at the end of the day with a few drinks makes it all worth while. Thanks for your help guy's.
Finally the sliding door that protects the telescope is installed and checked for alignment. Soon the final bits that drive the door will be fitted and after some fine tuning we will have a working observatory building complete with motorized door and rotating dome. This has been an enormous project!! and we hope that the radio observatory part will not be as hard as this was.
Some important events eventually come to pass during the progress of any project. Over the
Australia Day weekend (Jan26th-03) we were able to finish a few projects that we had been working on for several months. The first one of note was the fitting of the Celestron C-14 to the mounting pier. The second one was the completion of the repairs to one of our 5mtr dishes that had been damaged a few years ago before we got hold of it. Mike Boggan worked in extreme temperatures over the past few months to effect the repairs. At left is Ron Welstead and Mike admiring the view from inside the Dome and at right is mike and his dish both enjoying a well deserved rest in the shade.
The first dish that we will be installing is the one shown above at right. Mike has been busy installing the work platform which will also double as a brace to stop any excessive movement of the steel pole once the dish is mounted on top. Once we have the dish mounted on top of the mount, tested out the drive electronics and motors, we will be ready for the testing phase. This will entail the attempted detection of the Seti League Moon bounce Beacon that transmits a signal on 1296mhz. This beacon has been detected at Arecibo, Joddrel Bank and the VLA. We hope to be the next site to make a detection.
All the comforts of home are needed when spending those cold nights at the observatory. With this in mind we have been busy preparing the final touches to the verandah attached to the caretakers cottage and visitors dorm. At left is the deck being prepared and at right the complex nearly completed. Noel and Ron take a rest while Mike shoots the camera. A couple more weekends will see this project completed.
Nearly finished. The
verandah is almost completed. A little more paint, some additional steps and all should be ready. Note the solar hot water system is installed and producing hot water.
First Light for the optical observatory is fast approaching as we start to do the final testing of the Celestron C-14 telescope that we will do our Optical SETI project with. At left is Mike Boggan checking out the telescope optics to make sure that all is Ok. We observed Mars and was able to resolve the South Polar cap. It was so bright that we were totally amazed. The next day we made the changes to the mount that had been planned for some time. The extra concrete will help stabilize the pier that supports the telescope. Even though the pier goes 3m into the ground and is stabilized with 1cu mtr of concrete, we needed the extra rigidity of a concrete case around the support to make the whole structure totally rigid.
Next we finished of the wall insulation and inside lining, along with the painting of the pier and walls. Finally the carpet tiles are laid and cut to size, looks pretty nice, a job well done !! Next, we re-installed the telescope mount getting ready for our big night of viewing. The CG-14 Telescope was sent away last week for cleaning and alignment ready for permanent installation in the observatory. Finally we are ready for First Light. David Boggan at right is seen sitting at the keyboard of the Acer Notebook that will control the telescope operations.
The first Radio Telescope has been installed on it's mount. These pictures show the progress on the day. Mike Boggan, son Davis and friend Jesse aided us in the arduous task of prepping and final mounting of the dish. Following the success of the previous day, we decided to start some work on the first of the "40 footers". this will be a big job as each of these dishes will weigh in at 2 tones !!!
Finally we have almost completed the equipment module where our radio and computers will live. We have completed the electrical modifications and cleaned out all the garbage that has accumulated over the past year and made it ready for us to work in. We even did some Radio Astronomy observations in the form of a Sun transit, some recordings of background noise and a quick look in on the(23
1296 mhz amateur band for some signs of activity. Our home page lists some new *.wav files that we recorded.
At right is our equipment container that we will use for the SETI
radio receivers and computers. The receivers and computers will be
in separate sections that will be R.F.I. screened to reduce
interference to the receivers from the computers. At left is a view
of the 5mtr dish during a Sun transit.
pictures shown here are of last weekends (Oct 26 2003) work
assembling one of our giant 13m (40ft) dishes. This dish and it's
twin will be our main weapon in the search for E.T. Top left shows
the ribs being installed by our trusty band of workers. Top right
shows the almost completed frame for the dish with workers "Woody",
Jesse & Noel. Mike as usual drives the camera for the shoot and his
son David in top left photo. Bottom left shows the completed frame
awaiting the final nuts and bolt tightening after the careful
setting up of the dish geometry prior to the surface being
installed. Bottom right gives a good view of our antenna farm with
the second 40 footer under construction. Initially, both 13m (40ft)
dishes will be setup in birdbath
(Arecibo) configuration on a north/south baseline but operated
independently of each other with each dish scanning a slightly
different position in the sky. More photos at
21 2003 was a milestone day. Today we finished the assembly of the
frame structure for the second "40 footer". This meant that all we
needed to do was pour the mounting pier & slab for the northern most
40 footer (scheduled for Feb 2004) and install the new aluminium
surface for both of the large dishes. The southern most antenna is
to be installed onto a railway bogie that will
moveable along a railway track. Movement will be via a steel cable
that will allow us to precisely position the spacing as we change
the operating frequency. The two forty footers will have a maximum
distance between them of 84mtrs. This is a multiple of
21 cm (hydrogen centre frequency) being 400
wave-length's away from the other dish. Operation at higher
frequencies will give us a longer baseline. At right you can see the
centre hub of the second dish. Note the number of 20mm bolts and
washers. There are 64 bolts holding the centre together !!! Top left
is Noel Welstead & David Boggan watching for the
Seti League's Moon-bounce beacon to be detected. Unfortunately
the beacon has been experiencing some technical difficulties over
the past few months. We will try again in a few weeks.
pictures shown here are of last weekends (Oct 26) work assembling
one of our giant 13m (40ft) dishes. This dish and it's twin will be
our main weapon in the search for E.T. At left shows the
completed frame awaiting the final nuts and bolt tightening after
the careful setting up of the dish geometry prior to the surface
being installed. Right gives a good view of our antenna farm with
the second 40 footer under construction. Initially, both 13m (40ft)
dishes will be setup in birdbath (Arecibo)
configuration on a north/south baseline but operated independently
of each other with each dish scanning a slightly different position
in the sky.
Boonah Space Centre facility has the need for things other than
antennas and receivers. We need workshops so we can manufacture and
maintain our hardware. Also, we need to ensure that when we
resurface the twin "40 footers" we can
accurately align the surfaces to be less than 5mm of error. In other
words, we want the aluminum sheets to be aligned in a perfect shape
so as to accurately conform to a parabola shape. To do this we
needed to construct a surface that would be very accurately flat to
within 1mm. This was accomplished by
pouring a slab of re-enforced concrete 200mm (8 inches) thick with a
strength of 25mpa hardness. This was accomplished on September
23-2004. our next task is to move the giant dish onto the slab and
start making measurements of the frame prior to resurfacing.
Our workshop is finished and now we have a place to do our
mechanical repairs and construction. Also, our ablution block is
completed, which should give the girls a smiling face when visiting
the site. The top right image shows the
new and old toilet facilities, you can see what I mean !!!!!
long last we have moved one of our dishes onto it's calibration pad.
The crane arrived early Sunday 17th Oct and Woody the rigger hitched
the chains onto the frame. The rest was poetry in motion. The dish
was successfully raised from it's grassy resting place and
gracefully moved about 10m to the slab where it was accurately
placed on top. A quick check with a theodolite showed that we had
done a good job of the
manufacture. Next week we will jack up the dish and remove some
bolts that protrude at the bottom which are no longer needed. We
used our new workshop to modify the original feedhorn so we can
observe with dual polarization. If you look closely at the feedhorn
picture at right you will see the two "N" connectors that we will
connect to. We have recently ordered and received two new
LNA's from Radio Astronomy Supplies in Florida USA. These two units are matched
in gain and will be attached to the feedhorn and cabled to the
a great weekend we had
this milestone job.
SECA Cranes, a Brisbane based organization recently donated a tower
crane base and two "jib" sections that we will use to mount the
dishes on. When we eventually pour the slab for the base to mount on
we will attach the tower crane
base onto the slab and then attach
the tower to thee base. The base unit is made
to be rotated so we will be able to easily move the 40 footers in
one axis with
ease. The towers will need to be shortened to about
6.6m in height and an additional mounting for the top needs to be
Construction of the large radio telescopes has begun. Mike Boggan
arrived at the site with his son David and together with Ron Waghorn and
our other intrepid workers, we got working on the first dish to see what
problems we would encounter with the refit of the 1420 mhz feed and the
resurfacing of the dish surface with our new aluminium plate. Basically,
we have re-engineered the feedhorn with dual polarisation. That is two
antennas inside the feedhorn connected to their own LNA's. The LNA's
were provided by Radio Astronomy Supplies
and are considered to be the best on the market. Each LNA is powered
from a battery (12v) that is kept topped up from a small solar cell
mounted on the side of the dish. We will be mounting the first I/F stage
under the dish. This reduces losses in the system as we only have to
cable for a low frequency feed into the processing system. A few years
ago we suffered a loss of the original
plate that was used as the reflective surface needed to bounce the radio
signals up to the feedhorn. One of our sponsors Atlas Specialty Metals
came to the rescue and provided us with replacement plate the we
profiled and cut to size as a replacement for the missing metal. The
outcome has been amazing. We will have a better result than anticipated
as we will be able to improve
frequency response of the antenna as we can improve the accuracy of the
surface as we install each new segment. We needed to make sure that the
basic structure of the dish was good enough to mount the new surface and
the approach was a novel one. More on this later. At right is one
of the tower crane base that we will use to mount the 3M high tower
section on. Basically the base will be modified to allow us to stand the
cut down jib section on top and a mount designed to support the 4400kg
dish. Altitude will be hydraulic driven as will be the azimuth drive.
The First Dish is now
Well, after several years of planning and making
parts that were missing, the first of our 40 footers is ready for
Drift Scan Radio Astronomy. Below is an image of the finished
dish sitting on a concrete slab. It has taken us 25 man days to
prepare and install the new surface plates. Each plate is bolted on
to the main arms and other support structure we had to fabricate.
Quite a sight it is. The work load was very high and much was done
standing on top of ladders
outer section (segment 9) is made from Aluminum fly screen mesh and
was very awkward to handle. We had to make a special support to
mount it on so it would not flap around in the breeze. The rest of
the dish is a mixture of the old screens that came with the dish and
many new one's that we fabricated on site. The original screens were
punched with holes about 15mm in diameter. You can see them as they
look different in the images. Our trusty team of volunteers need a
mention and some thanks for their efforts. Mike Boggan and Deb
Skilton have worked hard over the past 6 months to get this
Deb at left was a keen assistant
Mike was not able to be on site. Seen at left is Deb finding some
nuts and washers that fell through the holes in the dish. Yep I
dropped them !! Noel Welstead can be seen drilling the holes to
attach the mesh to the outer perimeter of the structure. This was a
frustrating job that saw many pin pricks from the edge of the mesh.
There was many profanities uttered during this phase. The feed horn
and electronics were completed about 18 months ago and the support
structure installed around that time. We needed to get this hauled
up using a crane at the same time we moved the dishes around.
delicate nature of the outer skin including the mesh supports had to
be made on site. This was an arduous task as each piece had to be
measured and cut to size for each segment. Much of the work included
drilling and tapping the holes to accommodate the stainless bolts
and washers. At right you can see one of the screens that are
punched out with holes. At left you can see a panel with the mesh
first two layers (plates the same shape) were installed some time
ago to trial how things would go together. There were some initial
problems with the Stainless nuts and bolts seizing and locking
prematurely. We had to twist and snap them to get them off again.
This caused us to re-think what
In the end we decided that the simplest remedy was to lubricate the
bolts. This worked and made things much easier for us. After
installing the first 3 layers Mike Boggan got inside and taped the
joins with Aluminum tape. This gave us a near mirror finish and
looks quite startling to look at. As well as looking good the tape
reduced the effects of a not perfect surface which is quite
important if we want to move our search higher up the band, maybe to
2 x 21cm or 2840mhz. Above right is Noel standing in the dish to
show a relative size comparison. The surface is quite smooth and
one needs to take care when walking up the side. You can see the
entry hatch we made to allow access to the inside for cleaning and
repairs if necessary.
of the highly reflective surface of the
Aluminum we decided that we should paint the surface to ensure a
more stable temperature variation to reduce excessive expansion and
contraction of the plates. We had noticed that during the day when
it was hot, the surface had expanded quite a bit. And when the dish
was in shadow late afternoon the surface had contracted noticeably.
Noel's relatives Colin & Lynnette Brooks cam on site for a weekend
of painting. Noel did the cutting in while Colin did the rolling.
Quite a nice finish now and the surface temperature variations are
much less than before. We decided that it was time to test the LNA's
if they were still working ok after nearly a year in the elements.
Mike and Noel hooked up an
ICOM r8500 receiver to check out the systems. Looks like one
channel is down so soon we must climb to the feed point and have a
look. Well finally the dish is painted and looking great. Thanks Col
and Lynnette for the help and a great weekend on site.
we need to start prepping Dish2 cause "while your Hot your Hot" and
we need to make use of the cooler winter days to work in such a
reflective environment, not to mention the heat (who mentioned the
heat!) so we did some cleaning up around dish2 and got it nice and
level for the bolt tightening event next weekend. In the background
you can see dish1 gleaming in the sunshine. Oh what a feeling !
of our trusty workers. From left to right is Cathy Boggan, Bobbie
Pahl, Bob Pahl, Debbie Skilton and Mike Boggan (holding drink). The
assistance of volunteers is a great way to get things done and we
are very grateful for any assistance given.
LOOKING FOR THE WOW SIGNAL
Towards the end of June 2010 I was contacted by
an academic from Germany who had a theory about the original detection
of the WOW Signal at the Big Ear Radio Observatory in 1977, and why it
has never been detected again.
Michael wrote :-
"I would kindly like to ask if you would be interested in participating in an observation. This would only take a few minutes of observation time, but help to verify or falsify a theory to re-observe the Wow
signal of 1977.
During the last months, I have compiled a paper on interstellar lighthouses and applied it to the Wow signal. After discussion with astro-physicists in Germany, the paper gained quite some interest. Then,
observation time at the Hobart/Tasmania 26m radio telescope has been offered to test the theory.
The theory postulates that Wow was a beacon signal that would re-occur
- August 16th 2010, 14:18 UTC
- Frequency: 1420.4588 MHz
- Length: 236 seconds
- Coordinates (Y2000.0): RA 19h23m, DE-26°42' (best guess) or RA 19h30m
Hobart/Tasmania Radio Telescope will cover the best guess location. However, its HPWB is too small to cover both locations at the same time. If your team has the equipment and time, I would be very thankful if you could make an observation for the other location. "
A Link to his paper is HERE and is reproduced with permission
We sent a copy of the paper to Dr H. Paul Shuch,
executive director of the SetiLeague who in turn sent a copy to Dr Jerry R Ehman the discoverer
of the WOW signal. He commented that "this one has some merit, I
won't throw this one away." With these comment in mind we decided to
look at doing what we could.
We were not quite ready for an observation run at this time but after
carefully considering the request, we decided that maybe we could be
ready in a few months. So, we decided to have a go at the detection
stated to re-occur at 14:18 UTC 16th August. As luck would have it, the
WOW signal location would pass overhead our location slightly north of
our observatory about 2 hours before this time, but we decided to have a
go anyway. It was a good trial to see what our antennas could perform
like. Over the two month period we re-engineered the dish electronics,
tilted the dish to point a little north of our location,
calibrated all of our test equipment and got to work making the changes
that we needed to do. To ensure the best possible result, with maximum
signal, we set up under the dish and did our vigil out in the cold. We
did get some interesting pulses when the dish transited 36 Ophiuchus but
as this is a very active system we did not think anything about it. Just
recently we learned of a NOVA happening around this time so this would explain the activity
in this area of the sky. Here is an animation of the NOVA flare up caught by Rob from his observatory in Bright, Victoria ,Australia.
Equipment line up was simple. 2 x 1420 LNA (RAS) , 2
x Icom r8500 receivers, 2 x notebook computers and a 40ft dish.
Software consisted of ECU
planetarium program, Radio Skypipe II and Spectrum LAB analyzer program to look at the spectrum using the waterfall setting. We
spent over 4 hours running the observation but sadly apart from the
Ophiuchus pulses there was nothing out of the ordinary detected. Noel
Welstead is pictured below sitting at the console patiently waiting for
any sign of the WOW.
Deb Skilton provided much support on the night providing refreshments
and ensuring that we didn't freeze. It was 4 degrees celsius for most of
the time we were outside.
also had some observations done by the University of Tasmania at the
same time as ours were being made. There was a nil result from them as
well. Here are some plots 1 and 2 from the University of Tasmania's radio telescope run.
Caretakers Cottage Gets A Makeover
the loss of our site caretaker Ronald Welstead
in June this year we decided that we should do a make over of the
residence just in case we found someone who would like to live on the
site and look after things for us. So we decided to make some changes to
the appearance of the facility and make it look more inviting to a
prospective tenant. Using Australia's trusty corrugated iron (colourbond)
we did a makeover and
will agree that it looks great. A small paved area and some protective
parking area for motor vehicles together with an improvement in the
verandas make the residence look much more homely. What a difference it
made to the appearance of the facility and the new screens keep out the
birds and rain (if we ever get any again !!) when it rains hard.
Now for something really different !!
It probably seems funny to talk about things like
kitchens, toilets and septic tank systems, but when we started the
Observatory project all we had at the site was trees and a pile of
parts. This meant that we had to start from scratch with everything
that one needs to stay at the site. So we decided that we should
detail all of our activities, not just the astronomy related topics,
so here we go with a description of what we have been up to over the
past 3 months. We now have a kitchen installed in
Seti Building. Partially donated by Anthony Donovan, Urban Circle
and JBS Air. This facility is for our visitors
to use when they come and stay over night. We have gas cook top,
microwave oven, sink and running water and a small refrigerator.
Lots of storage space and all very environmentally friendly handling
of our waste products. The next important part of the project was to
construct some sanitation facilities. Australia in in the midst of
the biggest drought in living memory so we decided
not only would we install a water flushed septic system, we would
also build what we call a "dry toilet" that could be used if our
water situation became critical. This "dry toilet" consist of a
small building that sits over a 3m (10ft) deep hole that is
contained by a 20mm (3/4") plastic pipe. The bottom is sealed from
the environment by a
plug. The basic idea is for nature to provide the tools to dissolve
the waste products. The system we have built works very well and it
has been being used regularly by our caretaker Ron Welstead and our
visitors to the site at weekends.
care was taken with the construction to ensure a similarity to a
normal toilet system. We finally completed the new permanent dry
toilet facility and even though it is probably a bit glib to boast,
we designed, constructed and completed the project just in time to
start the full fledged water flushing septic system.
We enlisted the assistance of Trevor Baker, a local earth moving
contractor, to do
the heavy work like excavating the trenches, digging the hole for
the tank and moving the piles of soils around the block. Did I say
soils !!!!!. Our site consists of extremely reactive soil that moves
around all over the place when dry and turns into a mud pie during
times of rain. At the moment we have large cracks in the ground as
it's been so dry for such a long time. Any way, we needed to bring
in many cubic metres of gravel and sandy loam to ensure that the
waste water could flow out of the tank, into the trenches and
evaporate out of the soil.
the trenches will eventually have the necessary biological organisms
that will feed on the nutrients that come out of the tank in the
water. This process destroys any pathogens that go along for the
ride so it's quite safe to process our waste toilet products in this
way it seems. Any way we built it and the system
is now up and running without any problems so far. This part of the
project is now completed and the pictures show how it was done. The
final pictures show the tank with outlet filter prior to fitting and
sealing with the concrete lid. We are very happy with the completion
of this massive part of the project. Now we can get on with
job of finishing the Optical Telescope project. Our friend Ian
Harrison has completed the manufacture of a new set of bearings for
the dome. There has been a problem with the smooth rotation of the
dome due to the wrong selection of the type of bearing we needed to
use. Providence smiled upon us as we came across some aluminium
section with ball races already fitted inside the channel section.
Ian Harrison took them away and returned with our newly designed
method of turning the dome around. It now spins like a top. So light
and easy. Mike Boggan slaved away like a demon to re-drill the
stainless steel ring and fit the new bearing system. One more job
done. Next we motorise the top door and dome rotation.
Thanks to Mike, Woody, Ian, Ron, Noel and our own Uncle Dick for a
More to come, stay tuned!!!
A Photo archive of the past few years of our endeavour is located