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Good morning, and an early Happy New Year to everyone.

I first learned of this SIG Saturday; very cool.  I have downloaded and have 
read the archives of the mailing list (nothing like getting a little history, 
even if that isn't but a month long) and I plan on attending the meeting on 
the 11th, unless something work related comes up.

By way of introductions, I am CIO at the Pisgah Astronomical Research 
Institute (PARI), which is one of the few observatories with both optical and 
radio capabilities.  

We currently have several optical instruments, from a pair of solar telescopes 
with Ethernet video webcams to a 16 inch DFM with an Apogee Ethernet CCD, and 
we have four dish-type radio instruments: two 26 meter X-Y mounted prime 
focus parabolics good  up to 12-14GHz; a 12.2 meter prime focus parabolic 
good to 26-30GHz; and a 4.6 meter prime focus parabolic good up to the low 
millimeter range.  We also have a few HF arrays for use with the Radio Jove 
program, observing the sun and Jupiter in the 20-28 MHz band.  We also host 
another radio instrument from Virginia Tech; see for lots and lots of details on this exciting 

The 12.2 meter is in need of major work, and is mothballed pending funding.

The two 26 meter telescopes are in the midst of drive and feed upgrades; DFM 
Engineering is performing the drive upgrades (this is the second drive 
upgrade on these telescopes that they've done for us; this gets us 27 bit 
absolute encoders and Ethernet connectivity for control and telemetry); the 
feeds are being upgraded to thermally stabilized dual, coaxial 2.4GHz and 
8.5GHz for extreme scattering event research as an interferometer, funded 
through an NSF MRI grant.  Also, PARI is collaborating with Furman University 
Astronomer Dr. David Moffett on pulsar monitoring research in the 318MHz 
band; the instrument is currently off-line, but the pulsar radiometer backend 
is on Linux (currently an older Fedora).

The 4.6 meter Andrew parabolic is in active use for our School of Galactic 
Radio Astronomy educational program, and has a 1.42GHz hydrogen RF chain and 
spectrometer.  This telescope is currently internet controllable through a 
Java applet in-browser (the applet doesn't work with the F8 java stack, 
unfortunately), and with a custom java servlet backend.  The SGRA program 
teaches middle school teachers how run the telescope remotely, how to perform 
doppler spectroscopy to determine the galactic rotational characteristics, 
and how to teach their classes how to do this.  The telescope has a smiley 
face painted on it (long story), so it is nicknamed 'Smiley' for obvious 

Smiley also gets used for solar astronomy at 1.4GHz (we have a program, called 
Space Science Lab, that teaches high school sophomores and juniors, in a one 
week on-site seminar setting, all about solar astronomy, from optical all the 
way down to 20MHz radio, and Smiley is a part of that.  In the SSL program, 
the students spend one week on site, learning astronomy, radio astronomy, 
basic electronics, soldering, troubleshooting, etc: they build a Radio Jove 
kit radiometer, and if they don't have their own PC, we give them one with 
the require software preloaded; out of 57 kits attempted at this point, 56 
have been successfully constructed within the one week seminar; the 57th kit 
had a bad PC board).

We have a number of other programs; you can see the breadth of them on our 
website at

Personally, I have run Red Hat and Fedora Linux since Red Hat Linux 4.1 in 
1997.  I was the PostgreSQL Global Development Group's RPM maintainer from 
1999 through 2004 (my base spec file is still in RHEL4), when I passed the 
maintainership to Devrim Gunduz, as personal reasons prevented me from doing 
the builds in a timely fashion at that time.  Since then, of course, 
automated buildsystems have come of age, and packaging is a much simpler 
process than it was then.

On the subject of packages, I see in the rejected packages list IRAF.  Getting 
permission from UCAR to distribute NCAR as a part of Fedora would be killer, 
as IRAF is de rigeur for optical astronomy.  For radio astronomy, getting the 
former AIPS and AIPS++ packages, as well as the currently maintained CASA 
packages, in Fedora would be killer, as that is pretty much required for 
single dish and interferometer imagery in radio astronomy.

Also, GNUradio has an astronomy section; with a Universal Software Radio 
Peripheral (USRP) with a DBRX daughterboard, and a medium-sized dish (2-4 
meters) useful 1.4GHz radio astronomy can be done.  GNUradio requires wx, and 
the radio astronomy examples require PyEphem; getting PyEphem in Fedora would 
be great in general for astronomy, as PyEphem does all the interesting 
calculations, including the absolutely required (for radio astronomy) local 
standard of rest.  Having GNUradio packages (it's in Debian already) would be 
great (I might be able to do these if no one else does them).

In any case, it's great to see this SIG form, and I look forward to being able 
to help in some fashion.  I see several names I recognize here; Jef, spot, in 
particular.  We use Aurora Linux on a couple of our backends, running on an 
E6500 and E5500 Sun Enterprise pair.
Lamar Owen
Chief Information Officer
Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute
1 PARI Drive
Rosman, NC  28772

Fedora astronomy mailing list

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