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Radio astronomy group.

Our observing programme for Sudden Ionospheric Disturbances (SIDs) continues, with John Cook producing monthly summaries of events reported by a team of six to ten observers. John has now amassed data covering the last five years, with the expectation of interesting times ahead as solar cycle 24 gets into its stride. We hope to extend the study to include the timing between SIDs and the start of magnetic storms, looking for correlation between Sun-Earth plasma transit times and the magnitude of the solar flares that often accompany coronal mass ejections.

Terry Ashton is continuing his development work on a hydrogen line spectrometer, as well as a solar radio spectrometer for metre wavelengths (i.e. VHF). David Farn, Jeff Lashley and Paul Hyde are also undertaking work in this area.

Martyn Kinder has relaunched the RAG website which includes a limited Twitter feed for distributing news. The aim is to add a fresh item each week. The remainder of the website will be developed to include information on radio astronomy science and instruments. Further promotion of the Group's activities was provided via stands at this year's Exhibition meeting, with half of the Committee on hand to demonstrate equipment and explain the concepts behind radio astronomy.

We have had setbacks in using the 2.4-metre dish at the National Space Centre to provide an Internet-accessible radio telescope. The drive systems have suffered from long periods of inactivity and one of the motors still refuses to work, even after a rebuild. Jeff Lashley continues to manage this project and will be looking at alternative mounting arrangements. In the meantime Laurence Newell has offered to use the Spectracyber hydrogen line receiver purchased for this project with one of his own dishes to provide data for the website.

Much of the Group's work during the past year has been in support of the UK Radio Astronomy Association (UKRAA), the commercial venture that markets instruments and the Starbase observatory application. Laurence Newell, Alan Melia, Norman Pomfret and Andrew Lutley have provided the core UKRAA resource, with other RAG members helping test the instruments originally designed by John Cook and Peter King. The VLF Receiver is now securely in production with 35 units already sold in kit or ready-built form. The Magnetometer is now expected to be available for purchase from October onwards. Work is in progress to finalise the development of David Farn's Controller unit which will enable these instruments to be integrated with the Starbase application.

Laurence Newell has now stepped down after five years as RAG Coordinator. During his tenure Laurence has devoted an enormous amount of time and effort to the development of the Starbase observatory application and to setting up the UKRAA operation. He will continue to be a member of the RAG Committee but will now be spending most of his time on the Starbase and UKRAA projects. The remainder of the RAG Committee thank Laurence for his unstinting efforts during this time which have done so much to further the work of the Group.

Paul Hyde, Coordinator
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Title Annotation:Sections
Author:Hyde, Paul
Publication:Journal of the British Astronomical Association
Date:Oct 1, 2010
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