The National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) at Green Bank, West, Virginia, has asked that hams notify the facility if they plan to operate within 10 miles of either the Green Bank Telescope (GBT) or the Sugar Grove Research Station in Sugar Grove, West Virginia. The internationally renowned scientific research facilities are within both state and federal radio quiet zones. The West Virginia Radio Astronomy Zoning Act (WVRAZ) and the National Radio Quiet Zone (NRQZ) were established to minimize possible harmful interference to the Green Bank and Sugar Grove facilities. They are the only quiet zones of their type on Earth, and they offer the best protection of any US observatory from many forms of man-made radio frequency interference.
“Simply put, NRQZ coordination is required for all new or modified, permanent, fixed, licensed transmitters inside the NRQZ, as specified for federal transmitters by NTIA manual Section 8.3.9 and for non-federal transmitters by the FCC in 47 CFR Section 1.924,” the Green Bank NRAO said in an explanatory statement, “Only In Silence Can You Hear The Voice Of The Universe.”
The rules affect essentially all radio services. The Green Bank Telescope operates on frequencies ranging from 100 MHz to 116 GHz.
The issue arose recently when a radio amateur planning to participate in this weekend’s ARRL September VHF Contest asked for permission to operate in the vicinity of the GBT, which is currently conducting research on 33 centimeters — also an Amateur Radio band (902-928 MHz).
“It is an amazingly heartwarming thing for us when a member of the public thinks of our work and the potential effect his/her transmissions may have on that work, whether or not they are within the strict boundaries of the WVRAZ or NRQZ,” said NRQZ Administrator Paulette Woody. The facility has asked the applicant to avoid any directional transmissions that might cross paths with the GBT and to check the GBT schedule, which indicates operating times.
The Green Bank facility also plans to e-mail all Amateur Radio applicants on record, asking them to spread the word regarding its 33 centimeter research project and limiting operations there to times other that what is shown in the facility’s schedule.
The NRAO in Green Bank houses eight radio telescopes of various sizes, but the crown jewel is the Green Bank Telescope, the world’s largest fully steerable radio telescope.