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Proposal: International SOTA Observatory Week


This message is to propose a SOTA operating event called “International SOTA Observatory Week”. I received permission a few weeks ago from Simon, G4TJC, to put this out for discussion, and I’ve been thinking about it. I’d love to hear your ideas, and maybe we can make this happen!

I have an interest in Astronomy, and I know many other hams do as well. I’ve enjoyed activating a few summits now that are homes to professional observatories, such as Mt. Hopkins in Arizona (W7A/AE-027) and Mount Locke in Texas (W5T/DE-003). There are many other summits with observatories nearby in the SOTA database - in fact, Simon compiled a quick list:

W7A/AW-025, Kitt Peak
Griffith Observatory - not a SOTA but not far to W6/CT-037 above the Hollywood sign
ZS/GP-023 looks down on Hartebeesthoek
EA7/GR-002, Veleta is just above IRAM
W6/NC-029, Copernicus Peak is very close to the Lick Observatory
W7A/AE-027, Mount Hopkins - MMT Observatory
W6/CT-098, Occidental Peak - near Mount Wilson
W6/CT-020, Palomar Mountain - near Palomar Observatory
W6/CT-067, Table Mountain - Table Mountain Observatory
W7A/AE-007, Mount Graham - Vatican Advanced Technology Telescope
XE1/PB-002, Sierra Negra - Large Millimeter Telescope
W0C/FR-003, Mount Evans - Meyer-Womble Observatory
KH6/HW-001, Mauna Kea - obviously
KH6/HW-002, Mauna Loa - ditto
W5N/MG-001, South Baldy - Magdalena Ridge Observatory very near
KH6/MA-001, Red Hill - Haleakala Observatory
F/PO-044, Pic du Midi de Bigorre
EA8/LP-001, Roque de Los Muchachos
VK1/AC-043, Mt Stromlo

If you have any to add to the list please comment below.

Many observatory summits are off-limits to us. For example, Kitt Peak and Mount Graham in Arizona cannot be activated. We also need to be aware that some observatory facilities include radio telescopes and those generally will not allow RF emissions of any kind, period. It will be very important for us to be communicative with the observatory personnel to make sure we do not overstep our bounds or leave the astronomy community with a bad opinion of amateur radio operators.

One solution would be to expand the event to include summits within a certain distance of an observatory summit. I’m not sure I have a good suggestion for an appropriate distance - any ideas?

Regarding a possible date, my current thinking is perhaps the week of the Vernal Equinox (which occurs on March 20, 2018). The idea is for SOTA activators to activate as many of the observatory summits as we can (or those within the range defined) during the week, and of course for chasers to try to work as many of them as possible.

I also think this could be an opportunity for hams to establish a positive relationship with observatory personnel - it’s my experience that they are generally very friendly but do not fully understand what we are doing. There are some observatories that are off-limits and having an event such as this, if done properly, might even open doors to activate from some of those normally closed locations.

Please comment with ideas and suggestions!

73, and Clear Skies to you all,

Keith KR7RK


What a fantastic idea. I’d travel to activate/participate if my schedule allows it. I wish Yerkes Observatory, not too far north of me, was on a hill! Such a trove of astronomy history, but it was built before the time when light pollution existed :slight_smile:

clear skies and 73!


The summit of Mount Woorut VK2/CW-003 is inside the grounds of Sidings Springs Observatory near Coonabarabran. There are several summits in the Warrumbungle National Park and nearby from which Siding Springs buildings are visible.

VK2/CW-049 Kadina Trig is about 15.3 km from the Parkes Radio Telescope.

There are several summits near Narrabri, but they would be probably 40 km and more from the Compact Array Radio telescope to the west of Narrabri.

These are all a little far from me in VK3.


Peter VK3PF


WY/EW-006, Jelm Mountain - Jelm Mountain Infrared Observatory. Southwest of Laramie, Wyoming. Activated twenty times, I won’t be in the area at that time.
Peter KD0YOB


You could take the approach taken for the Lighthouse and Lightship weekend where the Lighthouse (or in this case the observatory) is in view from the operating location (in this case the operating location also needs to be within the AZ of a SOTA summit).

73 Ed.

P.S. Still looking to see if there are any Observatories in Germany that would qualify. Now if you were to extend this to Weather research stations, there are several I can think of …

EDIT/UPDATE: As regards Observatories near/on SOTA summits in Germany, it doesn’t look good - the nearest I have found is the Hoher List Observatory, which “might” be visible from DM/RP-002 Ernstberg - but it certainly isn’t “close” to it. It seems most observatories that haven’t been destroyed or closed down, are located on the flat lands.


W7O/CE-058, Pine Mountain.

Pine Mountain Observatory.


The peak 9A/DH-071, near Croatian city of Split, hosts an observatory known as “Starry village Mosor”. BTW, Split is hometown of our fellow activator Ivica, 9A6CW.


YU/JS-062 Bandera summit, Mt Vidojevica

Astronomical station Vidojevica, 5 m below the summit

Nice idea!
Fric YU1WC


Dear Keith and all,
While I find your idea an interesting one as a way to take several activators out to the mountain tops, which is something always highly welcome, particularly for the purpose of my recently proposed TEP WW SOTA WEEK,

I also find it may end up being a bit confusing for the ham community in general and also for the SOTA community in particular, to have both events mixed up at exactly the same time: the equinox.

I have already written not only here on this Reflector about the TEP WW SOTA WEEK, but also to the main radio clubs in Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Peru and Ecuador, as well as to the SOTA Country manager in Mexico, who responded to me positively.

I honestly think that it may well be a good idea to find a way to combine both activities, but this is something we should try to do in an agreed and well coordinated way.

What do you think?




Hi Keith. Interesting idea, but does it just have to be an astronomical observatory? I wonder it could be expanded to weather?? If so your Mount Washington would certainly fit that rcategory along with our own Ben Nevis OBSERVATORY in GM - now long gone, but some of the ruins are still there.




I suspect that this one might be more interesting for the chasers than the activators, there are only a couple of dozen observatories listed and we have thousands of activators, this could lead to crowded activations if the idea becomes popular!


Presumably, in this case, telescopes are allowed? :smile:


Space Station or Hubble Telescope overhead?


You might add SP/BZ-050 (Lubomir) to the list. An astronomical observatory had been on the summit from 1922 until 1944, when it was burnt down by German military. A new observatory was built in the same location in 21st century and is operational since 2007.


Here’s an interesting map of observatories world-wide. Info on all the locations can be found here.

Better yet, Google Map of world-wide sites.

Barry N1EU


Thanks Barry, I’ve found one in Germany that is also a SOTA summit - Wendelstein DL/MF-079 . Down near the Bavarian / Austrian border. Crikey it’s 2014 since I’ve been up there - better get back up there before the winter bonus comes to an end. This has an actual cog railway train up to about 100m below the summit (and a reasonably easy path to the actual summit - although checking, the track’s closed at the moment because of the chance of avalanches).



Guru, my apologies! I had completely forgotten that the TEP event was proposed for the same time. I agree that having both at the same time might lead to confusion. I think it might be best to find an alternative week for the Observatories event to allow the TEP event to be the main focus on the equinox weeks, unbless you had a strong desire to coordinate the two to be at the same time.

I’ll try to think of another good date option, and if anyone else has ideas please share!

Thanks and 73,
Keith KR7RK


Chews Ridge, W6/SC-040, is near Oliver Observing Station, a private research observatory named after Barney Oliver from Hewlett-Packard.



Barcroft Station does several kinds of research, including astronomy.

Mt. Barcroft does not appear to be a SOTA summit, but it is fairly near W6/CD-001, White Mountain Peak.




That’s great Barry - I should have thought of the Astronomical Almanac having used that in the past.

With the KML that page gives you it’s simple enough to pull the list into GIS and find all the nearest SOTA summits. It needs some picking through (dupes, dodgy positions) but there are potentially of the order of 50 or so on that list, depending upon how fussy we are about distance. Here’s an example (with a suspect position) - number 50 in distance is Hida Obs. Kamitakara, about 600m from JA/GF-068.