Basics of Radio Astronomy

Written by: The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, The California Institute of Technology and NASA

The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, The California Institute of Technology and NASA offer what they are calling a workbook used to train students on how to use the Goldstone-Apple Valley Radio Telescope. The telescope can be used by students around the country through the Internet and in person. This radio astronomy workbook first explains radio frequency electromagnetic radiation to provide context and meaning for the results students will see from using the telescope. The material was prepared by Diane Fisher Miller (Advanced Mission Operations Section for Jet Propulsion Laboratory) is suitable for advanced high school students and college under-graduates.

There are questions, exercises and final quizzes included but I did not find a solutions manual.

Table of Contents for Basics of Radio Astronomy

Chapter 1 Overview: Discovering an Invisible Universe
Jansky’s Experiment
Reber’s Prototype Radio Telescope
So What’s a Radio Telescope?
What’s the GAVRT?
Chapter 2: The Properties of Electromagnetic Radiation
What is Electromagnetic Radiation?
Frequency and Wavelength
Inverse-Square Law of Propagation
The Electromagnetic Spectrum
Wave Polarization
Chapter 3: The Mechanisms of Electromagnetic Emissions
Thermal Radiation
Blackbody Characteristics
Continuum Emissions from Ionized Gas
Spectral Line Emissions from Atoms and Molecules
Chapter 3: Non-thermal Mechanisms
Synchrotron Radiation
Chapter 4: Effects of Media
Atmospheric “Windows”
Absorption and Emission LinesReflection
Faraday Rotation
Chapter 5: Effects of Motion and Gravity
Doppler Effect
Gravitational Red Shifting
Gravitational Lensing
Superluminal Velocities
Chapter 6: Sources of Radio Frequency Emissions
Classifying the Source
Star Sources
Variable Stars
Our Sun
Galactic and Extragalactic Sources
Planetary Sources and Their Satellites
The Jupiter System
Sources of Interference
Chapter 7: Mapping the Sky
Earth’s Coordinate System
Revolution of Earth
Solar vs. Sidereal Day
Precession of the Earth Axis
Astronomical Coordinate Systems
Horizon Coordinate System
Equatorial Coordinate System
Ecliptic Coordinate System
Galactic Coordinate System
Chapter 8: Our Place in the Universe
The Universe in Six Steps
The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence
Appendix A: Glossary
Appendix B: References and Further Reading

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Basics of Radio Astronomy

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