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Fans bounce radio signals off moon

RADIO hams and amateur astronomers around the world spent the weekend bouncing radio conversations off the moon to one another in commemoration of the Apollo 11 landings 40 years ago, organizers in Australia said yesterday.

Although they had some clear and extensive conversations, they had to be patient. It takes around 2.5 seconds for a radio signal to reach the Moon and bounce back to another part of the Earth, so it took around five seconds to get a reply.

Initiated a few months ago by science buffs in Australia and the United States, "Moonbounce" was a 24-hour special event that organizers hope will become annual.

It brought together hundreds of amateur radio hams around the world, said event co-founder Robert Brand, some armed with their own radio dishes.

It was timed to coincide with the 40th anniversary next month of the Apollo 11 landings on July 20, 1969. But as the Moon does not orbit directly around the Earth's equator, this was the nearest weekend organizers could hold the event.

Among those taking part was Apollo 8 astronaut Bill Anders, one of the first men to orbit around the Moon, who took a famous photograph of Earth from space, now known as "Earthrise."

Brand, who as a 17-year-old played a role in the Apollo missions by helping install telecommunications installations used by NASA in Australia, said the results were remarkably clear.


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