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Exploring the Invisible Universe with Cardboard and Aluminum

22 Mar 2021, 03:55 UTC
Exploring the Invisible Universe with Cardboard and Aluminum
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In November 2020, Oscar Le, a high school teacher from Northern Virginia, contacted us on behalf of one of his students, Sam Watchman. In the spirit of Grote Reber, Sam had built a radio telescope receiver in his backyard for a science fair project, and he had a question about the data he was receiving. One of our scientists, Jim Braatz, got back to him helping Sam to clarify the results of his observation. Our Education and Public Outreach Department invited him to write a post about his experience.

I did this project for my high school science fair at Arlington Tech High School in Arlington, Virginia, where I am currently a freshman. For my project, I used my radio telescope to look at the hydrogen line signal in various parts of the sky (constellations). I hypothesized that constellations that are on the plane of the Milky Way galaxy would have higher signal levels than ones that are not on the galactic plane, and this hypothesis was supported.

Most radio astronomy research is conducted with giant antennas, like the ones at NRAO’s Very Large Array in New Mexico, or its Atacama Large Millimeter Array in Chile. These are giant, ...

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