Radio Telescope Dwingeloo commemorates Apollo 11

In ‘Echoes of Apollo’, (http://echoesofapollo.com/ the URL refers to the web archive of the no longer existing website) – a worldwide commemoration of the Apollo 11 Moon landing forty years ago – radio amateurs in the Dwingeloo Radio Telescope sent a radio speech to the Moon on June 27, 2009.

During the Moon landing of the Apollo 11 forty years ago, radio telescopes played a crucial role in the communication between the astronauts and the home base. During the commemoration, communication specialists and radio amateurs exchanged messages via the Moon with large parabolic antennas.

The broadcast from Dwingeloo was provided by radio amateur Jan van Muijlwijk (PA3FXB), one of the dozens of volunteers who help restore the radio telescope in Dwingeloo. Under the call sign PI9CAM, he honored all the astronauts who have been on the Moon by reading their names.

His speech was broadcast by the radio telescope to the Moon in a radio message. The Moon reflected part of the emitted radio waves back to the Earth. In that part of the world which was turned to the Moon, one could listen to his rebound speech.

Worldwide, youth was also involved in this commemoration. From Switzerland, America, and Australia, they could let their voices travel to the Moon and hear their echoes three seconds later. This delay is caused by the large distance (385,000 km) between the Earth and the Moon. A few days earlier, the New York Times published a short article A Ham Radio Weekend for Talking to the Moon about this.

During this commemoration, it turned out for the first time that with extraordinarily small transmission capacities (of less than a hundredth Watt) worldwide reliable radio connections can be realized by using the Moon as a reflector for radio waves. Herewith, the radio telescopes of Dwingeloo and Mount Pleasant (Tasmania) were used.

– Radio message PI9CAM

– Text radio message PI9CAM

The text below was read by Jan van Muijlwijk to Tasmania via the Moon. Recordings were made in Dwingeloo (audio) and in Tasmania (on video).

This is PI9CAM for the ECHOES OF APOLLO PROJECT JUNE 27, 2009

Hello nice people at the Mount Pleasant Observatory in Tasmania! Hello boys and girls “down under”. And a special hello to Rex, who initiated this operation at Mount Pleasant. Congratulations with this fantastic operation and our best wishes to you all from the Dwingeloo dish in the Netherlands.

The signals you hear now have traveled nearly 800.000 kilometers. First nearly 400.000 kilometers from Dwingeloo to the Moon and again 400.000 kilometers from the Moon to your dish at Mount Pleasant. Isn’t it a miracle?

By doing a lot of Moon bouncing today we honor the achievement of mankind 40 years ago. Because this year it is 40 years ago the first man set foot on the Moon.

I myself was only eleven years old at that time, but I have very vivid memories of the event. Our family watched television during the night to witness the famous first steps on the Moon. It was absolutely fabulous!

Some sentences spoken by the astronauts are engraved in the collective memory of mankind. Two of those sentences I would like to bounce off the Moon now:

Tranquility base here. The eagle has landed.

And the most famous of them all:

It’s one small step for man, but a giant leap for mankind!

I was thrilled by the complete Apollo project anyway. Every launch of another huge Saturn V rocket was a big adventure. And as a little boy I dreamt about how it would be like to be in space and walking on the Moon. It was a time of great expectations. I read all about it. I watched every space item on television. And what a joy it was to see the Apollo 11 mission become such a great success. And let’s not forget the other Apollo missions. Apollo 13 was a
scary adventure with a happy end. But all the other Apollo’s until nr 17 were very successful. What a time it was!

I am convinced that the Apollo project played a big role in the choices I and many others made for education and hobbies. And that it is one of the reasons I became a Ham radio operator. And thanks to that I am now involved in the restoration of this big 53 years old Dwingeloo Radio Telescope. And here we are, talking about Apollo and the Moon, via the Moon with this historic Radio Telescope. Full circle!

To conclude, back to the Apollo project. In total 12 brave man walked on the surface of the Moon. To honor their courage and to the memory of this great achievement I now read their names to the Moon to be bounced off to Tasmania:

1. Neil Armstrong
2. Edwin Aldrin
3. Charles Conrad
4. Alan Bean
5. Alan Shepard
6. Edgar Mitchell
7. David Scott
8. James Irwin
9. John Young
10.Charles Duke
11. Eugene Cernan
12. Harrison Schmitt

I hope you had good reception of our signals via the Moon! Thank you for listening and for taking part in this nice Echoes of Apollo project. And thanks to the Moon for being such a nice reflector!

Best regards to Mount Pleasant Tasmania from Dwingeloo The Netherlands. Good luck to you all.
PI9CAM end of transmission. Bye bye.

– Video impression of RTVDrenthe

Together with RTVDrenthe, Jan van Muijlwijk made a video impression of this broadcast combined with images of the moon landing on July 20, 2019.

Since January 2007, the CAMRAS foundation (with its volunteers and donors) has been working on renovating the Dwingeloo Radio Telescope and making it usable again in order to stimulate the interest in science and technology among young people.