We’re pretty lucky here in western North Carolina to live within a reasonable drive of the Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute (PARI).
PARI started out life as a NASA tracking station during the Apollo era, then eventually became a Department of Defense facility. In the 1990s, the DOD left the site and a non-profit was formed to turn the observatory into an educational and research institute. They’ve a number of radio telescopes and even a few optical telescopes. They’re also home to the Astronomical Photographic Data Archive and a number of other projects.
My family–including my then very young daughters–volunteered at PARI for quite a few years. We were actively involved in their Sci Girls program, I’ve given presentations about SDRs and HF at a couple of their monthly events, we volunteered during their massive solar eclipse gathering, and even hosted a weekend SWL DXpedition in 2015.
The campus is simply amazing.
Due to funding, staff and programs were downsized starting around 2019 and we lost touch during the Covid era when the campus was locked down.
This past weekend, PARI held an open house, though, and it was incredibly fun heading back to the campus and reconnecting with a few of our friends there.
My daughter and I snapped some random photos. I discovered them this morning and thought I’d share them in case there are other radio astronomy nuts out there in the QRPer community (click to enlarge these):
When my daughters were only eight years old, they were allowed to steer the 26 meter dish in the photo directly above. I wasn’t a bit jealous at all! No, not me! 😆
As QRP as I am, I absolutely love gazing at these massive radio telescopes. Perhaps it’s because I know they’re working some serious weak signal DX and peering into our past to unveil some mind-blowing science!