Sunday, August 21, 2011

Combining two loves: stars and radio

On Friday night it was beautiful outside. For the first time in about three months we are starting to have dark nights, now that the longest days of the year are over and we move towards autumn equinox. It was so beautiful outside in the garden that I brought my camera out to take a few photos. Of course now that I have so many antennas it is difficult to get a photo of the stars without some metal intrusion!!

The above photo is probably the best of those that I took. The bright star behind the MA5B minibeam is Vega in the constellation Lyra. Together with two other stars, Deneb and Altair, Vega forms what we astronomers know as the "Summer Triangle". It's a familiar and beautiful sight at this time of the year, being directly overhead in the summer months. If you look closely at the image, you can see Deneb at the top of the image, just to the left of centre, at the top of the cross-shaped Cygnus (the swan) constellation. Altair is on the extreme left of the photo. It is the bright star of the constellation Aquila, the eagle.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the photo. The MA5B is doing a great job for me working the DX. I've had lots of contacts into Japan, China and other parts of Asia with it. It is not resonant on 15m and is a problem on that band, but on 20m, 17m, 12m and 10m it is doing great. Admittedly 10 hasn't been open enough to test it properly. I am surprised and delighted with its performance on 17m, where it has bagged me lots of DX, most recently Afghanistan which is a new one for me on that band. On 17m the MA5B is only a rotary trap dipole - with no parasytics!! Would you even believe it? Maybe not if you could look at my log and see all the great DX I've worked with it. I am very happy so far . . .

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