Space Exploration Society in Kiowa County, Colorado
Credit: Michael Lowe DSES
We are the Deep Space Exploration Society (DSES
for short), a 501(c)3 non-profit science and
education group dedicated to exploring and learning
about space through the use of radio astronomy. This
includes building our equipment as well as promoting
a scientific approach to learning about something
that is far too far away to visit.
The picture to the left for example: the sky is blue
because blue light scatters more so than the red
light. Sunsets are red because our atmosphere
filters out (that scattering thing) blue light first
leaving only the longer wavelength red light to pass
on through. We look at the visible part of the
spectrum with an optical telescope. If you look at
stars right at the horizon they appear red! Same
reason that light from the Moon is red at Moon
rise/set but bright and clear with the moon is
overhead. Check it out with binoculars early some
Our eyes see light that has a wavelength on the
order of 0.000005 cm (0.0000019 inches). If we use a
telescope to peek at a nebula -- like the great
Orion Nebula, we see light that comes mostly from
ultraviolet light fluorescing in Hydrogen gas. Our
sun formed in a nebula quite like the Orion Nebula.
But if we really want to see Hydrogen "shine", we
need to look for 'light' that is 21cm (8.267 inches)
in wavelength. That is 420,000 times longer than we
|So what about these large radio telescopes? We
use them to capture photons of very very very long
wavelength light -- and we have used a dish just
like the Haswell dish to observe the 21cm (8.267
inches) wavelength light from the "shining" from the
Hydrogen that makes up our galaxy.
We point the telescope directly up and make
observations of the intensity of 21cm radio waves
from space. When we gather those data we get a peek
at a whole swatch of sky that is about 1 degree
wide. It takes 24 hours to pull that one off --
since the Earth is rotating anyway might as well
take advantage of that fact.
If we shift 1 degree down towards the southern
horizon, and record for another whole day -- we get
another swatch. Next day same thing -- shift/record.
After a month or so, we can paste these swatches of
data together and begin to see very large structures
made of Hydrogen in our galaxy. Since the gas that
is beyond our galaxy is so faint we know the signal
we get is from our home galaxy.
Credit: Paul Berge DSES
Credit: Dr. Jospeh DiVerdi DSES.
|The image to the left shows the patchwork of
many swatches quilted together. The bright areas are
our galaxy (the Milky Way).
In terms of recreation: think about how fishing
means accepting the challenge to hook and land some
As recreation goes, our challenge is to capture a
few oddball photons and figure out a big message
about space from the faint tiny piece of that
message each of those photons brings to us.
You know, as recreation goes, fish do taste better.
But as challenges go — doing astronomy with a radio
is a doozy!
We will be happy to arrange a time to have a
discussion about astronomy, math or space
engineering at your school or other location.
Check us out in more detail over at: