Keeping an eye on the sun

The dish is lowered into place. Picture: Bruce Hunt www.communitypix.com.au d404272
The dish is lowered into place. Picture: Bruce Hunt www.communitypix.com.au d404272

In the early to mid 1960s, the 9m dish was a relay dish in Geraldton, transferring important data from Carnarvon to Perth.

Eventually, the dish became redundant and was disassembled, stored in pieces at Perth Observatory.

In 1999, a group of radio astronomy enthusiasts, led by Brian Sallur, decided to salvage the dish and assemble it at their Golden Grove Observatory in Chittering.

After Mr Sallur passed away last year, there was no one to use and maintain the dish and members of the Golden Grove astronomy group and Astronomical Group of WA, decided to give the dish to the GDC for educational purposes.

Mike Handley, who has been responsible for the upkeep of the dish, also donated the electronic equipment required to use the dish.

GDC manager Anja Cherian said Western Power installed the dish, which will be used for educational purposes and for tracking the sun.

‘The dish will be part of the GDC’s radio telescope, which will be used to teach visitors how radio telescopes actually work,’ she said.

‘School students and the general public will have the opportunity to move the radio dish to point towards the sun to listen to its radio emissions.

‘The radio emissions will be converted into a visual image by a computer and interpreted by a presenter into easily-understood language.’

Ms Cherian said the installation of the Brian Sallur Radio Dish was a key component in enabling the GDC to further educate students and the public about radio astronomy and the SKA project.

‘The SKA will be the world’s largest and most sensitive radio telescope and this dish is another exciting addition in the development of the GDC as a world class public science education centre.’