Lamar Owen wrote:
Good morning, and an early Happy New Year to everyone.
I first learned of this SIG Saturday; very cool. I have downloaded and have
read the archives of the mailing list (nothing like getting a little history,
even if that isn't but a month long) and I plan on attending the meeting on
the 11th, unless something work related comes up.
By way of introductions, I am CIO at the Pisgah Astronomical Research
Institute (PARI), which is one of the few observatories with both optical and
Wow, happy to see you here! :)
We currently have several optical instruments, from a pair of solar
with Ethernet video webcams to a 16 inch DFM with an Apogee Ethernet CCD, and
we have four dish-type radio instruments: two 26 meter X-Y mounted prime
focus parabolics good up to 12-14GHz; a 12.2 meter prime focus parabolic
good to 26-30GHz; and a 4.6 meter prime focus parabolic good up to the low
millimeter range. We also have a few HF arrays for use with the Radio Jove
program, observing the sun and Jupiter in the 20-28 MHz band. We also host
another radio instrument from Virginia Tech; see
for lots and lots of details on this exciting
The 12.2 meter is in need of major work, and is mothballed pending funding.
The two 26 meter telescopes are in the midst of drive and feed upgrades; DFM
Engineering is performing the drive upgrades (this is the second drive
upgrade on these telescopes that they've done for us; this gets us 27 bit
absolute encoders and Ethernet connectivity for control and telemetry); the
feeds are being upgraded to thermally stabilized dual, coaxial 2.4GHz and
8.5GHz for extreme scattering event research as an interferometer, funded
through an NSF MRI grant. Also, PARI is collaborating with Furman University
Astronomer Dr. David Moffett on pulsar monitoring research in the 318MHz
band; the instrument is currently off-line, but the pulsar radiometer backend
is on Linux (currently an older Fedora).
The 4.6 meter Andrew parabolic is in active use for our School of Galactic
Radio Astronomy educational program, and has a 1.42GHz hydrogen RF chain and
spectrometer. This telescope is currently internet controllable through a
Java applet in-browser (the applet doesn't work with the F8 java stack,
unfortunately), and with a custom java servlet backend. The SGRA program
teaches middle school teachers how run the telescope remotely, how to perform
doppler spectroscopy to determine the galactic rotational characteristics,
and how to teach their classes how to do this. The telescope has a smiley
face painted on it (long story), so it is nicknamed 'Smiley' for obvious
Is the java applet available somewhere? I'm wondering why it's not
working with IcedTea java.
Smiley also gets used for solar astronomy at 1.4GHz (we have a
Space Science Lab, that teaches high school sophomores and juniors, in a one
week on-site seminar setting, all about solar astronomy, from optical all the
way down to 20MHz radio, and Smiley is a part of that. In the SSL program,
the students spend one week on site, learning astronomy, radio astronomy,
basic electronics, soldering, troubleshooting, etc: they build a Radio Jove
kit radiometer, and if they don't have their own PC, we give them one with
the require software preloaded; out of 57 kits attempted at this point, 56
have been successfully constructed within the one week seminar; the 57th kit
had a bad PC board).
We have a number of other programs; you can see the breadth of them on our
website at www.pari.edu
That's a nice gear. I hope to have chance visit your institute if I'm
around someday. :)
Personally, I have run Red Hat and Fedora Linux since Red Hat Linux
1997. I was the PostgreSQL Global Development Group's RPM maintainer from
1999 through 2004 (my base spec file is still in RHEL4), when I passed the
maintainership to Devrim Gunduz, as personal reasons prevented me from doing
the builds in a timely fashion at that time. Since then, of course,
automated buildsystems have come of age, and packaging is a much simpler
process than it was then.
On the subject of packages, I see in the rejected packages list IRAF.
permission from UCAR to distribute NCAR as a part of Fedora would be killer,
as IRAF is de rigeur for optical astronomy. For radio astronomy, getting the
former AIPS and AIPS++ packages, as well as the currently maintained CASA
packages, in Fedora would be killer, as that is pretty much required for
single dish and interferometer imagery in radio astronomy.
Regarding Iraf, x11iraf is under review,
Since one month I'm trying to contact Mr. Romanovski, which after years
of studies in US, is back in Russia.
Also, GNUradio has an astronomy section; with a Universal Software
Peripheral (USRP) with a DBRX daughterboard, and a medium-sized dish (2-4
meters) useful 1.4GHz radio astronomy can be done. GNUradio requires wx, and
the radio astronomy examples require PyEphem; getting PyEphem in Fedora would
be great in general for astronomy, as PyEphem does all the interesting
calculations, including the absolutely required (for radio astronomy) local
standard of rest. Having GNUradio packages (it's in Debian already) would be
great (I might be able to do these if no one else does them).
PyEphem and GNU Radio are on our wish list as well and I hope I'll
If someone is interesting in packaging GNU/Radio, Trond's spec file is
available at http://trondd.fedorapeople.org/spec_files/
In any case, it's great to see this SIG form, and I look forward
to being able
to help in some fashion. I see several names I recognize here; Jef, spot, in
particular. We use Aurora Linux on a couple of our backends, running on an
E6500 and E5500 Sun Enterprise pair.
Please, don't hesitate to come to our next meeting, so we can discuss
what Fedora do for pari.edu
Marek Mahut https://fedoraproject.org/wiki/SIGs/Astronomy/
Fedora Project http://www.jamendo.com/