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,