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Thursday, January 13, 2011

Grote Reber, Radio Astronomy, and Tasmania

Wow, the website of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory is a real treasure trove, with lots of ham radio info. Check out their page about ham radio's contribution to the exploration of the universe: http://www.nrao.edu/whatisra/hist_ham.shtml

The picture above shows antenna that Grote Reber built in his backyard in Wheaton, Illinois in 1937. It is now on display at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory at Green Bank, West Virginia. That's quite an antenna! Imagine the neighbors' reaction.

NRAO has a page devoted to Grote Reber:
I had wondered what had drawn him to Tasmania later in life. Here's the answer:

In the 1950s, Reber sought a field that seemed neglected by most other researchers and turned his attention to cosmic radio waves at very low frequencies (1-2 MHz, or wavelength 150-300 meters). Waves of these frequencies cannot penetrate the Earth's ionosphere except in certain parts of the Earth at times of low solar activity. One such place is Tasmania, where Reber lived for many years. He died in Tasmania on December 20, 2002.


  1. You ought to consider going to Green Bank, WV for a tour of the NRAO Bill, especially before you get re-assigned out of Virginia again. It would be a long drive but you could get there in a day.

    I've been through a tour once, and driven by it a couple of other times. The scopes are very impressive. Especially cool (pun intended) are the cryogenic dewars with their highly sensitive mixers! :)

  2. I totally agree with Bert WF7I. You will thoroughly enjoy a visit to NRAO. From where you are in NoVa, it should be about 3.5hrs. Not only is it a radio-quiet area, but there is almost no light pollution; striking night sky views from out there.
    Cheers and 73s de WP4BQV/VQ9BQV. -Bob.


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