ESSENTIAL RADIO ASTRONOMY
J. J. Condon and S. M. Ransom
National Radio Astronomy Observatory
Essential Radio Astronomy
(ERA) is a onesemester 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 webbased,
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 directedstudy
courses that don't involve lectures.
To reach the widest possible student audience, we
made ERA sufficiently
complete and selfcontained 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.
This work is licensed under a Creative
Commons AttributionNoncommercialShare Alike 3.0 License.
Modified
onMonday, 13Sep2010 11:58:52 EDT
