Radio Astronomy

First public open day at the new Peter Bolas Observatory at Rosliston Forestry Centre

Today we held our first public open day for the Peter Bolas Observatory – over 250 people came down to visit the observatory during a sunny science event at the forestry centre.

Photos below show the team with the public at the observatory, RAG members on the grass in front of the cafe, and Bob and Andrew with their radio meteor observing kit and the best radio meteor observations from the day.



Nick Rufo (left) with Andrew Thornett (right) – Nick did sterling work directing members of the public towards the observatory:   The Sun through Paul Bertenshaw’s telescope:                                 

Picture below is of Ann Bolas (Peter Bolas’ wife) and her son outside the new observatory:

Best radio meteor observations from today:

                              Screenshots meteors RAG open day forestry centre 191019

Configuration files for Spectrum Lab software for meteor detection using radar scatter from Graves in France 7/6/2019

The link below will download a ZIP folder containing a copy of the “Spectrum” folder in my root directory on my silver Dell Windows laptop from 7/6/2019. This contains the configuration files developed by the group over the last few years to detect meteors using radar scatter from Graves in France.


Andrews Spectrum folder from C root drive Silver Dell laptop 070619

May Meteors

The main shower in May was the Eta Aquarids, peaking on the 6th May (yellow star). The total number of meteors recorded using meteor reflections of the Graves signal was3498.

The hourly average was 5/hr with a max of 21/hr between 07:00 and 08:00 on 5th May.

The daily average was 113 meteors with a maximum of 148 on 17th May probably due to the May Arietids Daytime shower.

May has many daytime showers (G.W.Kronk “Meteors Showers- An Annotated Catalogue” ) and this seems to be supported by the data showing the  monthly total for each hour observed.

First radio observations at Peter Bolas Observatory – Radio Meteor Scatter from Graves of Lyrid Meteor Shower – 6/5/2019

Radio Scatter Graves Radar Peter Bolas Observatory Rosliston Forestry Centre,

Lyrid Meteor Shower,

6/5/2019 @ 10:30
Andrew Thornett

Successful detection of Lyrid meteor shower at the new Peter Bolas Observatory during an observatory working party session on Bank Holiday Monday.

The surprise was the frequency of meteors shown on screenshots below – there are up to 11/12 meteors evident on singe screenshots!

On Saturday, we had an outreach day and had difficulty getting radio scatter to work. Eventually we found a broken wire in the aerial end of the aerial cable at its connection – a temporary Heath Robinson approach got it working. Since then, I have soldered the connection and today was a chance to test it.
I also changed laptop from my (expensive, cant afford to lose it) main laptop to a spare Dell PC that is 10 years old and not the end of the world were it to get broken or stolen!
Trying it out today – I could not seem to get good signal through the microphone port on this new machine but I had a spare USB microphone port which I plugged in and the laptop and Spectrum Lab successfully detected the microphone and almost immediately meteors were seen on the screen – great success!


Photos of myself observing meteors by radio scatter at Rosliston & serial screenshots at 1 minute intervals from Spectrum Lab:

Successful detection meteors by radio scatter from Graves 143.049MHz at Rosliston Forestry Centre

During today’s science outreach event at Rosliston Forestry Centre, Bob and I achieved successful detection of meteors from Graves by radio scatter on 143.049MHz, on my silver Dell laptop running Windows 10/Spectrum Lab software, together with Yaesu FT-817 radio & 2 element Yagi on Clansman mast.

Bob and I set up an aerial to detect meteors by radio scatter – initially unsuccessful until we found a broken wire! Once fixed in a rather Heath Robinson way (indebted to Lee Bale without whom we could not have got this working today), we detected a fair number of meteors (a few screenshots below).


Meteors detected by radio scatter today:


Meteor radio scatter equipment:

     Making a hole to insert bottom of meteor radio scatter aerial:


April Meteors

A total of 1571 meteors were detected in April, using the reflected radar signal from Graves.

The daily average was 52 with a maximum of 121 on 23rd April. The hourly average was 2 with a max of 13 between10:00 -11:00 on 23rd.

The months activity started off quieter than last year, although the peak activity was higher, the Lyrids peak on the 22nd April, although both years show a peak on the 23rd, this is probably a combination of the Lyrids and Pi puppids (18 -25 april, peak 23rd). The non directionality of the detector makes it difficult to ascribe any count to a particular shower.

The increase in activity at end of month heralds the approach of the Eta Aquarids which peak on 6th May, with the moon only a few days old.

March Meteors.

March is not noted for any major shower and the months count is made up of sporadics and contributions from minor showers.

The total count for the month was 1497, with an average daily total of 48, with a maximum of 91 for the 14th march. The hourly average was 2, with a maximum of 11 between 3-4am on 4th March. The signal from graves appears to have gone down between 07:00 on 20th to 19:00 on 21st but I have no confirmation. The count from the 21st to the end of the month was lower than the early part of the month, the opposite to last year ..( see last chart 2018-2019)

April sees the Lyrids shower peaking on the 22nd, coinciding with a bright, just past full moon.