Neutron Star Group

The detection of pulsars is viewed as a major achievement by many in Amateur Radio Astronomy circles. It would not be a stretch too far to say it is something of a minor 'Holy Grail' - accompanied as it is by tales, tall and true, of the achievement of the quest.

As a self-confessed 'pulsar-phile', the administrator of this site (see 'Contact') has endeavoured to collect examples of verified amateur attempts and provide an overview of those attempts.

NOTES:

  • You may have been re-directed to this Google Site from previously linked website URLs - e.g. NRARAO, NEUTRONSTAR, HAWKRAO. Those websites have been consolidated here to reduce the time and effort required to update and/or add new material. There are some limitations w.r.t. layout and format - but the over-riding advantage is the saving in time required to maintain the scores of pages associated with my radio astronomy activities over the last decade or so. Note also there are some omissions, e.g., online calculators have gone - the security risk for these is not warranted by the low level of utilisation as shown in logs. My apologies for any inconvenience.

  • As time has progressed over the years, more amateurs (and some professionals as a personal interest) have become involved in 'pulsar hunting' and it is no longer possible - or desirable - to keep track of all activities. Consequently the information here becomes outdated rapidly and the author of this site is no longer motivated to spend time to curate those activities. It is now left up to the reader to establish the veracity of claims of successful pulsar detection.

  • As a guide to establishing veracity of claims, the provision of verification by at least one of the available professional software suites, e.g., DSPSR/PDMP, PRESTO or TEMPO would seem to be the minimum...

PDMP Result (PSRCHIVE)

Prepfold Result (PRESTO)

...which has become necessary because over the last couple of decades claims have been made of pulsar detections by amateurs using home-made software which - on many occasions - have turned out to be invalid. As this home-made software became more complex - in attempts to dig out pulsar signals from poor S/N data obtained from small aperture antennas - it has became almost impossible to decide which is valid and which is the result of massaging noise to get a result.


The only remedy - in the opinion of the author - is to verify with professional software which are proven standards.


This standard has been applied to the author's own results.

Another powerful verification can be obtained by plotting the slow increase in measured period (decrease in spin frequency) over a large number of observations. For example...

  • Readers are - of course - free to accept their own level of proof - however no correspondence will be entered into if the above requirement is thought to be draconian.

  • Although it is flattering to have this Neutron Star Group site referenced in other amateur individuals' results, such references do not indicate an endorsement by the Neutron Star Group of those results.

  • The pace of progress achieved by a number of the amateur observatories listed below means that the count of pulsars detected and hardware details become out-of-date periodically. Always follow the link path right through to the individual's own website (where available) to read the latest results.

  • Only three amateur observatories are known to the author that attempt, or have attempted in the past, to take daily observations of a single pulsar.

    1. The first to be established was a system by Andrea and Giorgio Dell'Immagine starting August 2016 to do daily observations of B0329+54 [update: since November 2018 Andrea has switched to observing the Crab Pulsar - ending 2 years and 3 months of B0329+54 daily observation].

    2. The second was established by the administrator of this site (Steve Olney) some 9 months later (May 2017) to observe the Vela Pulsar (B0833-45) [as of August 2021 - completing 4 years and 3 months daily observation of the Vela Pulsar].
      NOTE: the first ever detection of a 'glitch' in any pulsar by an amateur was achieved by HawkRAO in 2019 when Vela 'glitched' (refer to ATel # 12466).
      This was followed up by detection of a 2nd Vela glitch in 2021 by HawkRAO (refer to ATel # 14808).

    3. The third was established by Tavolaia Observatory around mid-2018 making daily observations of B0329+54.

Notes:

Two more observatories established by an individual are known to be observing Vela in Australia at the time of writing (August 2021) in Australia - but it yet unknown whether they would want to be characterised as 'amateur' and so are not listed here. The HawkRAO observations detected the 2021 Vela glitch (the 2nd such detection after the 2019 Vela glitch) and so did those observatories as their first.

After viewing the examples of the work of known successful amateurs, be sure to have a look at the challenges they have overcome by reading "Amateur Challenges".

Note: As updates are occurring regularly be sure to refresh all pages to get the latest information.