Pulsar Observations - Guillermo Gancio &  Peter East

Peter East (UK) and Guillermo Gancio (Argentina) have collaborated to detect the Vela Pulsar (B0833-45/J0835-4510) using a 30 metre dish @ 1420 MHz.

NOTE: El Instituto Argentino de Radioastronomía (IAR) - the Argentine Institute for Radio Astronomy - graciously allowed Guillermo the use of the facilities normally reserved for professional radio astronomers in order to obtain the observational data.

Background (extracted from a published paper)

This project sought to determine the minimum useful antenna aperture for amateur radio astronomers to successfully detect pulsars around the Hydrogen line frequency of 1420 MHz. The technique relied on the collaboration with GM Gancio, who provided RTL SDR data of the Vela pulsar (B0833-45, J0835-4510) and others, collected with a 30 metre radio telescope.

This data was processed to determine the achievable signal-to-noise ratio from which, the minimum useful dish size necessary for some effective amateur work, could be calculated. Two software packages were developed to do synchronous integration, a third to provide a power detection function and a fourth for spectrum analysis to recover pulsar rotation rate.

Useful data has been collected on the powerful Vela pulsar with a 30 metre dish facility using an RTL2832U SDR dongle. Simple integration software based on a known/derived test value of the pulsar period has shown to effectively improve the pulse to system noise ratio so that pulse detail can be observed. 

Receiver Block Diagram at the 30 metre Dish in Argentina (IAR)


For the observed conditions and resulting signal to noise ratio, a reasonable estimate can be made of the minimum useful antenna aperture for amateurs to effect detection. For the Vela pulsar this aperture estimate is 6 metres diameter using the methods described.


The 30 metre dish antenna used by Guillermo (Argentina) and Peter (UK) to observe the Vela pulsar at 21cm.  The dish is located in the southern hemisphere about 40km south-east of Buenos Aires.


The Results (May 2015)

The results of detection of B0833-45 (~ 900 ly) as given by Peter and Guillermo.


Other Details

More detail is provided in the published paper. Other pulsars have been observed using the same system and successfully analysed.