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    MustangSally's Avatar
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    Default Radio Telescopes vs. Optical Telescopes



    What advantage does a radio telescope have over an optical telescope? Is it more powerful than an optical telescope and less expensive to build? Can you build an amateur radio telescope yourself or would it be too expensive. I'm interested in learning more about radio astronomy and wanted to read up about it.
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    Hey Sally! Well, as you dig deeper into it, you'll find that radio waves, overlaid with optical, infra red, and the other devices each yielding their sensitivities gives us a much fuller perception of various regions of space. Visually, looking at the Milky Way with optics alone only permits us to see some of the nearest arm of the MW. But, our best images to date comprise all of these. So, it isn't a matter of "more powerful", but of more "fuller", so to speak.

    I've never been drawn to the pursuit, but I'd suggest you google on "Amateur Radio Astronomy" and follow your nose from there. I've heard of folks using old TV satellite dishes for receptors, and these can often be had for the trouble of hauling them away. But, you'll soon be able to tell us what you've discovered. And, please do! We may have to open a radio astronomy Forum at AF.



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    Radio telescopes work in a different part of the EM spectrum than optical instruments. Neither is "better" than the other; they are complementary. Together, radio and optical telescopes gather more data and allow us to learn more than with either type alone.

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    Thanks for the info and the website. We have two old satellite dishes on our house that we don't use. Eventually they will be taken down; instead of throwing them away I would like to reuse them somehow. I hoped I could modify them to use as radio telescopes. I would love to do something like this if I could research it and learn more about it. I think it would be a fun project for a college assignment one day. If I find other info on building your own I'll pass it along to anyone interested.
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    Way to go, Sally! Go for it! By all means, pursue it and keep us posted! You are a credit to AF and AA! You may have a buncha followers to you lead...



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    One suggestion I have would be to contact a local HAM radio club in your area and talk to a few people there. The equipment is similar and they can help you source out what you need.
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    One of the advantages , I would think , in Radio Astronomy would be not having to Polar Align every time.

    Clouds? , pah! , bring them on ! Radio waves would get through. Hmmm lot to be said for R. Astronomy

    Ok I'm gonna stop now , any more equipment in the house and SWMBO says it's curtains for me .

    p.s . curtains are also bad for astronomy , unless there open of course !

    Ok I'll get me coat !
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    Quote Originally Posted by Canon Pete View Post

    p.s . curtains are also bad for astronomy , unless there open of course !
    I totally disagree! If they belong to your neighbor, they should be closed.

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    We have been broadcasting our presence to the Universe for 100 years now. If there is a detachment of Galactic Pest Control within 100 light years, they are already on the way.

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    At 55 degrees that would be some mighty steep staircase ! and one heck of a draw cord !!!!
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