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Ask Dr. SETI ®

Chapter 6: Technology

Project Argus Dish Siting

Dear Dr. SETI:
I need some guidance regarding where to site my new dish. There are some public utility electric service lines coming in on one side of my property. The other side has trees to the S & SW. I have a clear shot to the N & NW, however. The back side of the house (where you couldn't see the dish at all) is surrounded by tall trees. Any suggestions?

Rich, Georgia

The Doctor Responds:
Rich, remember that the Earth rotates on a west-to-east path. In drift-scan, that becomes your azimuth rotor. So, to maximize sky coverage over time, your dish should move in elevation on a north-south arm.

This will require some creativity with the mount, because TVRO dishes are generally set fixed in elevation (to coincide with the Clarke Belt), and rotate in azimuth (to track across it). So the mount needs to be varied vertically 90 degrees from the normal configuration. Siting then involves finding a location where, with respect to pointing straight up, you can get the maximum sky view in a north-south arc.

If you want the dish in the back yard, among the tall trees, then find a place where you can point it straight up (bird-bath mode) between the trees, with minimal blockage -- hopefully, nothing within a cone of 20 degrees or so with respect to the vertical.

Hope this helps.

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