radio astronomy: a project by r a d i o q u a l i a

Radio Astronomy installation: Launching at ISEA2004

An exhibition of sounds received by radio telescopes is launching at the ISEA2004 festival this Friday.

Radio Astronomy is an art and science project, which will broadcast sounds intercepted from space, live on the internet and on the airwaves. The project is a collaboration between the art group r a d i o q u a l i a, and radio telescopes located throughout the world. Together they are creating 'radio astronomy' in the literal sense - a radio station devoted to broadcasting audio from our cosmos.

On 02 September 2004 the Radio Astronomy radio station will begin to broadcast live on the internet. Before the live broadcast starts, a special exhibition is being staged at the ISEA2004 festival in Helsinki. Listeners will be able to encounter the sounds of space in two ways:

The radio transmission and exhibition are comprised of the acoustic output of radio telescopes. Listeners tuning in may hear the planet Jupiter and its interaction with its moons, radiation from the Sun, activity from far-off pulsars, or other astronomical phenomena.

Many of these sounds are fascinating from both an aesthetic and conceptual perspective, prompting comparisons with avant-garde electronic music. Yet very few people have heard these sounds, considering space to be silent, rather than the rich acoustic environment it turns out to be. Radio Astronomy intends to share these sounds with visitors to the ISEA2004 festival.

About ISEA2004

The Radio Astronomy installation and FM broadcast will launch at the ISEA2004 festival on 13.08.04
In mid August, the Baltic Sea becomes the center of electronic music, new media art and digital design. ISEA2004 is the 12th Symposium on Electronic Arts. Exhibitions, performances, conferences and concerts will transform venues across Helsinki in Finland, Tallinn in Estonia, and the luxury Silja Opera ferry, into vibrant expressions of new media culture.

At ISEA2004, the Radio Astronomy sound installation is being exhibited at the picturesque URSA observatory in Kaivopuisto park, Helsinki. The URSA dome overlooks the glittering Baltic Sea, and has a stunning view of both the stars and the ocean at night. The Radio Astronomy installation will be open during evening hours, allowing visitors to not only view the night sky, but listen to it. Radiation from the Sun, the planet Jupiter, and other astronomical phenomena will be audible inside the URSA dome, providing a captivating soundtrack to the starry night sky.

On-Air in Helsinki

Radio Astronomy will also be accessible to residents of Helsinki using standard transistor radios. ÄÄNIRADIO is a temporary radio station broadcasting in Helsinki on 103.1FM. From midnight to dawn each night, Radio Astronomy will be broadcast on ÄÄNIRADIO. The extraterrestial signals emanated by the Sun, Jupiter and other astronomical phenomena will be broadcast alongside the more prosaic sounds of commercial music and news reports. Some radio listeners may encounter the celestial transmission by chance, while tuning through the radio spectrum, looking for their favourite radio station.

Broadcasting Sounds from Space

r a d i o q u a l i a think of large radio telescopes as radio receivers.

Institut de RadioAstronomie Millimétrique, France & Spain

Ventspils International Radio Astronomy Centre, Latvia

Very Large Array (VLA), NRAO, New Mexico, USA

Unlike normal transistor radios, these receivers are listening to signals being transmitted from planets and stars. Radio Astronomy connects broadcast radio - the transmission of audible information - and the science of radio astronomy - the observation and analysis of radiation from astrophysical objects. The signals from planets and stars are converted into sound and then broadcast on-line and on-air. r a d i o q u a l i a's project is intended a literal interpretation of the term, "radio astronomy" - it is a radio station broadcasting audio from space.

Venue and Opening Hours

URSA Observatory
Address: Kaivopuisto Park, Helsinki.
Directions: Tram line 3T (direction Eira) from Rautatieasema to Eiran sairaala (Eira Hospital, Tehtaankatu 30). From there, change to tram 3T (direction Töölö/Eläintarha), from the Eiran sairaala stop to Kaivopuisto (Tehtaankatu 2). Circa 0,4 km walk to the Kaivopuisto Park.

Opening Hours:
14.08.04 - 22.08.04
1730 - 2030 each evening


By appointment: telephone: Adam Hyde on + 358 40 8761932 or email adam at xs4all dot nl or honor at va dot com dot au