1. Introduction:
   A. What is Radio Astronomy
   B. Early Radio Astronomy
   C. The Radio Universe

2. Radiation Fundamentals:
   A. Brightness & Flux
   B. Radiative Transfer
   C. Blackbody Radiation
   D. Larmor's Formula
   E. CMB Radiation
3. Antennas & Radiometers:
   A. Antenna Fundamentals
   B. Reflector Antennas
   C. Filled Apertures
   D. Radio Telescopes
   E. Radiometers
   F. Interferometers I
   G. Interferometers II

4. Thermal Emission:
   A. HII Regions
   B. Free-Free Emission

5. Nonthermal Emission:
   A. Magnetobremsstrahlung
   B. Synchrotron Power
   C. Synchrotron Spectra
   D. Synchrotron Sources
   E. Inverse Compton
   F. Extragalactic Sources

6. Pulsars:
   A. Pulsar Properties
   B. Pulsar Timing

7. Spectral Lines:
   A. Recombination Lines
   B. Line Radiative Transfer
   C. Recombination Sources
   D. Molecular Lines
   E. The HI Line

Supplementary Material:
   A. Index
   B. Essential Equations
   C. Constants & Units
   D. References & Links
   E. Problems & Solutions
   F. Fourier Transforms



J. J. Condon and S. M. Ransom
National Radio Astronomy Observatory


Essential Radio Astronomy (ERA) is a one-semester course intended for astronomy graduate students and advanced undergraduates with backgrounds in astronomy, physics, or engineering. The goal of ERA is fostering the community of researchers using radio astronomy by attracting and training the most talented university students. Therefore we are making ERA available via the world wide web at no cost.

ERA greatly simplifies the task of teaching radio astronomy at the university level. Although ERA is web-based, the text consists of full sentences and paragraphs, not just lecture notes or Powerpoint bullets; and all equations are legibly rendered in TeX. ERA also includes ten sets of problems and a final exam, with solutions. We developed ERA in 2000, 2002, 2006, 2008 and 2010 for the University of Virginia radio astronomy courses ASTR 534 and ASTR 5340. ERA allowed us to use a computer and projector to display the web pages in class, nearly eliminating the need to write equations and drawings on a blackboard. Prior to each class we handed out printed versions of these pages so the students could follow the lectures without the distraction of copying everything into their notebooks. ERA is also suitable for individual or directed-study courses that don't involve lectures.

To reach the widest possible student audience, we made ERA sufficiently complete and self-contained that its only prerequisites are basic calculus physics courses covering elementary classical mechanics, macroscopic thermodynamics (e.g., the first and second laws of thermodynamics), electromagnetism, and quantum mechanics (quantization of energy and angular momentum). Courses in electromagnetism using vector calculus, special relativity, statistical thermodynamics, advanced quantum mechanics, or astronomy are not required. Although ERA can be used alone, we recommend the textbook Tools of Radio Astronomy (5th Edition) by T. L. Wilson, K. Rohlfs, & S. Hüttemeister as a reference for advanced students interested in "the tools that a radio astronomer needs to pursue his trade."

Instructors or students interested in using ERA are welcome to contact us with questions, suggestions, corrections, etc.  We continue to modify and improve ERA while teaching ASTR 5340 in the fall semester of 2010.  The online version will reflect these changes.  We will maintain two printable (.pdf) versions, the stable version from 2007 and the latest version tracking the online course.

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Modified onMonday, 13-Sep-2010 11:58:52 EDT