The Antenna

Both 26-meter radio telescopes point and track at sidereal or user-defined rates for astronomical observations. The control system was built by DFM Engineering, Inc. The 26m radio telescopes use position encoders with 18-bit resolution and the addition of dual 15 HP computer controlled synchro motors on each axis. PARI has conducted pointing model calibrations on the 26 East radio telescope to ensure pointing accuracy to within a quarter of a beamwidth at 2.3 GHz.

The receiver was built by a team led by Dr. Brian Dennison (UNC-Asheville). The team included Dr. David Moffett (Furman Univeristy) and more than a dozen undergraduate students over a five-year period.


PARI’s 12-meter radio telescope is a precision surface antenna mounted on an elevation over azimuth configuration. The telescope is controlled via fiber optics from the Cline Administration Building.

The prime focus feed is currently a 1420 MHz receiver with a downconverter and SpectraCyber spectrometer.

The signal is transmitted to the Cline Administration Building via fiber optics.



PARI’s 4.6m radio telescope is dedicated to an educational program that allows high school teachers and students to use this instrument remotely from the classroom.

The iconic “Smiley” face has greeted thousands of students from classrooms as far away as Australia. Smiley is used to introduce students (and many teachers) to radio astronomy.

The antenna is currently configured for 21 cm (1.42 GHz) neutral hydrogen. Using Smiley to collect data at this frequency, several online labs allow students to map radio sources, study the Doppler Effect and detect radio waves from the galaxy. This hands-on approach to learning has proven to be highly effective and popular among high school students, and Smiley has also been a useful tool for demonstrating remote control and interface software to college students.

0.4 Meter Research Grade Optical Telescope West Optical Observatory

Recent image taken with an Apogee Alta E42 2048×2048 CCD camera through the 0.4m telescope.  The telescope is a 0.4m f/8 RC, scale = 64.5 arcsec/mm.

The camera is an Apogee Alta E42 2048×2048 CCD. The CCD chip has 13.5 micron x 13.5 micron pixels and imaging area of 27.6 mm x 27.6 mm. With this imaging area and the scale of the telescope, the angular field of view is 29.7 arcmin x 297.7 arcmin. The telescope scale on the chip is 0.870 arcsec/pixel. There is no telecompressor. Filter set = Bessell UBVRI and a clear filter.  A 25 second exposures at V on a 9th magnitude star will saturate the image.


Radio JOVE Antenna – Solar Radio Astronomy

Powerful radio emissions from the Sun and Jupiter are receivable with simple equipment in the 17 to 30 MHz range.

To study the powerful radio emission variations as a function of frequency, R. Flagg, (retired from the University of Florida), and Jim Sky (Radio Sky radio astronomy products ) have designed a simple radio receiver and software ( SkyPipe ).  Dr. Jim Thieman at the NASA Goddard Spaceflight Center manages project JOVE which uses the hardware and software at more than 500 schools around the world.

In this frequency range shortwave broadcast stations, automobile ignition noise and summer lightning storms all add to the noise. By monitoring our remote data feed through SkyPipe, the students are able to determine whether they are receiving local interference or Jupiter/Solar signals. SkyPipe is available as a free downloadable file on the RadioSky website. The software allows three levels of participation: single user, client and server. Single user records audio from the receiver and stores it. Client allows a student to connect to PARI and other worldwide servers to monitor without having any receiver or antenna. Server mode allows data to be streamed live to the Internet so other clients can receive it.

Solar energy bursts will be measured during the day using this antenna and various receivers. A solar flare sounds similar to a Jovian LBurst with an ocean wave crashing on the shore sound lasting typically about 90 seconds. Click the picture below to listen to an audio recording of a solar flare.

SkyPipe software allows students at schools around the world to compare PARI’s live data with their own. The JOVE project is one of the easiest and most inexpensive radio astronomy projects in which a student can become involved. The antenna can be as simple as a wire dipole and still provide good results.