[NAAPO Logo]

The NAAPO Newsletter
Volume 21, No. 2
November 2005

Written by: Phil Barnhart, NAAPO Coordinator, 4655 Indian Ct., Westerville, OH 43082

Printer-Friendly Version


Noted in Passing

This past August, Philip J. Klass died in Florida. Klass was a principal skeptic in the contentious battle over the phenomenon of UFOs.

Trained in electrical engineering he became an expert in aviation electronics and in 1952 joined the editorial staff of Aviation Week & Space Technology. His first encounters with UFOs came in two articles he wrote for Aviation Week in 1966. His identification of certain sightings as "all lightning" rested upon his knowledge of electrical phenomena and his understanding of how uninformed observers can distort or expand upon their observation of previously unobserved phenomena.

Phil Klass to this day is reviled by UFO-as-alien advocates. His tactics and arguments often were pointed and taken personally by his adversaries. He wrote six books on the subject of UFOs including UFOs Identified and UFOs Explained. His familiarity with avionics made him a prime candidate to deal with radar anomalies associated with distant lights.

Klass founded a $10,000 fund to last his lifetime payable to anyone who would pay him $250 a year until an actual alien landing would be affirmed by the National Academy of Sciences or the appearance of an alien on a national TV news program. Though a few entered the agreement none continued their annual payments for long, demonstrating that the advocates of 'government cover-up' and 'impending disclosures' don’t believe their own ravings.

The rational approach to UFO reporting has lost one of its greatest advocates.


Volunteers are actively pursuing immediate equipment needs. Russ Childers put out a plea for additional low-noise amplifiers and digital receivers to serve as backup for the ones operating in the array at the present time. A new volunteer, Phil Covington, with experience in micro-circuit assembly, has taken on the task of building a stock of spares for this purpose.

Ken Ayotte is nearing completion of a tunable signal generator for testing and calibrating system elements. Modules and parts have been accumulating for this project since last summer.


The question of how to place elements of the Argus Array is again under study. The rectangular, close order array now employed is just a temporary arrangement. It is easy to service and easy to deal with, but suffers from considerable sidelobe problems. Originally a log-spiral array was suggested for purposes of minimizing sidelobes. This array rapidly takes up real estate as the number of elements increases.

Bob Dixon has tossed in another suggestion — that of concentric circles. The sidelobes are not small, but they can be handled more conveniently in the software, which might make this a preferred arrangement. It will probably wait for an empirical test till we fabricate more array elements.


We are now in a position to entertain three or four proposed projects costing in the range of $1000 to $1500. Priorities will be discussed at future working sessions, but several needs have been addressed in recent months. We may be ready to consider in-house fabrication of the antenna elements. This is an etched circuit project proposed by Gary McCool three years ago. Materials are on hand to construct a number of antenna ‘enclosures’ and the construction of LNAs and digital receivers is getting started again.


The working session on 15 October turned into an enjoyable party. Well before the meeting was gaveled into session, Volunteer Keri Kukral moved in with a video crew from Ozone Studios. Paul Abbott, Mike DelGrosso, James Simmons and Jeff Warnement set up two cameras and microphones to record the whole meeting. Marc Abel brought our youngest volunteer (?) (Glenn, his 1 year-old daughter). Mother Barbara (an Air Force Major) is on active duty in Qatar. Glenn provided occasion gurgles in response to weighty questions on the table. Keri is working hard on a documentary relating to our group and its colorful history.

Recent observations were presented by Russ Childers to illustrate the array capability. A satellite tracked five days earlier was featured. A waterfall display of the passage was produced and a polar plot of the track across the sky was displayed. Russ' descriptions and photos are shown below. [Click each photo below to obtain a larger version.]

Satellite track, October 10, 2005
Here is a waterfall frequency spectrum of a satellite seen by Argus on October 10, 2005, from 11:02 to 11:05 UTC. Note the "side bands" on either side of the central signal. The center frequency is 1692.035 MHz; bandwidth is 60 kHz. The oldest time is at the bottom and the most recent time is at the top. The highest frequency is at the right; the lowest frequency is at the left. The S-shaped frequency profile suggests that this is a low-earth-orbit satellite, where the frequency goes from high to low, like the sound of a race car's engine as it passes you on its way around the track. The intensity of the signal goes from low (green) to medium (yellow) to high (red), and then back down to low.

Waterfall display

Below is a polar plot of the above satellite. The image represents the sky as an observer on the ground would see it. The circle is the horizon; the top is North; West is on the right; East is on the left; South is on the bottom. The point "directly overhead" is in the center of the circle. The satellite track goes from close to the North horizon, to near overhead, to slightly south. This plot shows the location only of the satellite, not the frequency or intensity, which are both seen in the above waterfall image. Points (*) not on the track are either noise, or sidelobes (false location) of the satellite's location.

Polar plot

Steve Brown paid an unexpected visit from Florida. He just happened to be in the neighborhood and decided to catch the meeting. Steve had served a long time at Big Ear as chief engineer/observer.

Solutions to the problem of moisture penetration of the array electronics were discussed. A plan to test various sprays for the electronics was suggested. As new LNAs are constructed various sprays will be tried to see if any break down and become conducting over time.

Concern over Radio NAAPO being off air was raised. Downloading of appropriate software compatible with our network OS has been requested. Updated hardware is ready to go and just needs Linux compatible software to get back on air.

At the end of the meeting, after the video taping was concluded, Jerry Ehman requested that a group photo be taken with his digital camera; one of the crew from Ozone Studios took the following photo. [Click the photo below to obtain a larger version.]

Group photo


There have been a surprising number of trauma instances among the lives of the members of our group since the start of summer. Members of the families of Ron Leeseberg, Doug Needham and Phil Barnhart have fallen or undergone serious medical crises. Bruce Lerner’s father passed away. We are ever reminded of the hazards of growing older.

The progress made by a strictly volunteer organization is often hard to see. With a lot of activity going on in the background we are making progress. With infusion of more donations we are ready to pick up on some of our delayed activities. In the next few months we should be reporting some of the results simmering through the past few months.

One of the back-burner activities has been the display at NRAO. It is now time to gather up the miscellaneous items sitting around and finish delivery to Green Bank. There are still some packing problems to address. A considerable amount of flat materials and the Kraus antenna model needs to be packaged. Descriptive material needs to be written to accompany this material. Work will progress on this in the next few weeks.

Jerry Ehman reports progress continues on getting Cosmic Search onto a CD. He finds that actual transfer from the printed page to the electronic images quite time consuming. Estimates of completion range from a year to somewhat longer.
   Phil Barnhart

Printer-Friendly Version

[Back to List of Issues in Volume 21 (Year 2005)] | [Back to List of Volumes in Group 2] | [HOME]


E-mail Webmaster

Copyright © 2005 North American AstroPhysical Observatory
Created by Jerry Ehman.
Last modified: November 29, 2005