Vela Pulsar Observations

The detection of pulsars is viewed as a major achievement by many in Citizen Scientist Radio Astronomy circles.  The difficulty of this activity has produced some optimistic claims - fortunately there are many examples of successful pulsar detections by citizen scientists which comply with the scientific method and, as such, are good sources of information.

At HawkRAO this pursuit has been extended by the first-ever detection of a 'glitch' in any pulsar by an amateur radio astronomer.

These webpages document the activities at the Hawkesbury Radio Astronomy Observatory (HawkRAO) centred around the Vela Pulsar.

On the left is the antenna 2-by-2 array used to make Vela pulsar observations.  The pulsar passes almost directly overhead and so the best type of antenna to build up sufficient aperture in the restricted space beside the house is a long Yagi - not common at professional observatories - but common for amateur radio stations.  To account for the almost 100% linear polarisation of the Vela pulsar signal and the position angle swing of almost 90 degree during the on-pulse phase the array is circularly-polarised.  The component Yagis are sourced as amateur radio antennas (436CP42UG) - boom length of ~6 m pointed almost straight up.

NOTE: webpages were updated June 2022 to reflect the latest observational status.  Specifically - observations have resumed after a break using new processing software/hardware.


After more than 6 years of daily observations (including the detection of 2 'glitches')

Vela pulsar observations have ceased as of 28 June 2023.

Some HawkRAO statistics:

Related To This Page...

Detection of Two Vela Pulsar 'Glitches' - details of two 'glitches' detected in HawkRAO observation data.

B0833-45 Daily Observations - about Vela  pulsar observations - details about history.

Latest Observation Results - uploaded nominally daily (subject to downtime due to system issues - e.g., power outages).

Observation System Information - details and status of the current Raspberry PI 400 observation setup.

PDMP Results Gallery - a small selection of typical low-resolution results from the PDMP period search analysis.

Vela Pulsar - some information about the pulsar.

Sample Data Files 

Technical Notes 



The target pulsar was selected as B0833-45 (J0835-4510) as it is the strongest pulsar (5 Jy @ 400 MHz) and also happens to pass almost directly overhead at the HawkRAO location (34°S). Use the 'Vela Pulsar' tab to view more details about the pulsar.

The antenna and low noise amplifiers are commercial products and data acquisition is achieved via a relatively inexpensive USB SDR - the RTL-SDR dongle.

The analysis software was written specifically for the HawkRAO hardware setup.