Dwingeloo sends heart beat Neil Armstrong back to the Moon

Author(s): Tammo Jan Dijkema, Jan van Muijlwijk, Harry Keizer
Photo(s): see below blog post

When on 20 and 21 July everyone is looking back on the 50 year Moon landing anniversary, CAMRAS volunteers (in particular Harry Keizer and Jan van Muijlwijk) are working hard in the Dwingeloo Radio Telescope.

In the night of 20 to 21 July 2019, exactly 50 years after the Moon landing, they will bounce radio waves off the surface of the Moon, and catch their reflection (moon bounce). The radio telescope will be used for this from about Saturday 20 23:00 UTC to Sunday 21 06:30 UTC.

Other dishes, even small ones, can also receive the moon echos. A bigger dish that will listen in part of the time is the Mark II telescope of Jodrell Bank Observatory near Manchester. This weekend it hosts the Blue Dot festival; the Moon echos will be played live on the festival.

Early in the morning, at 02:56 UTC, it is exactly 50 years ago that Neil Armstrong set foot on the Moon. While he did this, his heart beat was recorded. Now 50 years later, the Dwingeloo telescope will send this heartbeat back to the Moon, as part of the art project “Giant step” of artist Richard Clar. He translated the heart beat to audio, adding in the famous words “That’s one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind”.

Other sounds that Dwingeloo will moon bounce are the things that kids (and grown-ups) would say when they would set foot on the Moon. These sentences were recorded by artist Martine-Nicole Rojina in her ‘First Steps’-project.

Even more, the CAMRAS radio amateurs will send pictures to the moon using ‘visual moonbounce’, a technique similar to fax.

At the end of the morning, from 05:30 – 07:30 UTC, the telescope will download images off the Chinese satellite in Lunar orbit.

All these activities will take place between Sat 23:00 UTC and Sun 7:30 UTC. During these hours the telescope is not open to the public. Sending the sounds can be followed via webradio radioerevan.airtime.pro.

The telescope is open to the public on Sunday 21 July 2019 from 11:30 tot 14:00 UTC (13:30 – 16:00 local Dwingeloo time). See Zomerse zondagmiddagopening 2019 (in Dutch) for details. The Moon will not be above the horizon then, but we will of course pay special attention to it.

Planned times (in Dwingeloo local time, CEST)

  • Blue Dot: 02:15 – 03:00
  • 04:56 sonified heart beat Neil Armstrong
  • Blue Dot: 05:00 – 07:30
  • Chinese Lunar satellite DSLWP-B: 7:30 – 9:30 uur

Photos: Boot and bootprint in lunar soil (NASA; Apollo Archive Project),  Dwingeloo Radio Telescope (Harry Keizer; CAMRAS), Mark II telescope (Mike Peel; Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics, University of Manchester)