This course is designed to introduce  radio astronomical  techniques and scientific results to upper level (mostly junior/senior) undergraduates and first-year graduate students. 


Students should have taken 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.


The syllabus and lectures will closely follow the excellent web-based course Essential Radio Astronomy, developed by Jim Condon and Scott Ransom, both former staff scientists at National Radio Astronomy Observatory.


The textbook is online at the NRAO website: Essential Radio Astronomy. I will be handing out printed copies of the chapters as we get to them, so it won't be necessary to take detailed notes, but it may help to make annotations on the printed lecture notes. I also  students consider purchasing the paperback text Introduction to Radio Astronomy by Burke and Graham-Smith.

EVLA Observing project

This class has been allocated a two hour EVLA observing block by the NRAO for use in the course. More details of this program will be made available in late February.

SRT-2 Project Schedule  

We will spend about three weeks after Spring Break testing and observing with a 21-cm radio telescope system, including a phase-array planar antenna, double conversion heterodyne receiver, and FPGA-based spectrometer. We will use this system to observe the Sun and the 21-cm line of neutral hydrogen, mapping its distribution in the galaxy.


The most important part of the course, from an individual learning perspective, is the homework. I will assign homework as the beginning of class every Wednesdat, to be due the following Wednesday. 


There will be two (or possibly three) take-home exams and a final exam (format TBD).

Project Report

At the end of the semester, each team of students submit a written paper summarizing their VLA observing project, and will give a 10 minute oral summary in class. 

Course Grade 

The course grade (letter grade will include +/- grading) will be determined by the following metrics:

  •  Homeworks   [6 x 5% = 30%]
  •  Hourly exams [2 x 15% = 30%]
  •  EVLA observing project  [20%]
  •  SRT-2 observing project [20%]

Department information and Classroom Procedures

-DEO contact info: Prof. Mary Reno, 203 VAN, 335-1689
- This is three s.h. course. Students are expected to spend two hours preparing for each s. hr. (6 hr/wk).
- Procedure for student complaints is described in Chapter 5 of the CLAS handbook.
- Collegiate policy on plagiarism and cheating is also found in the CLAS handbook.
- Students rights and responsibilities (from CLAS handbook):

"Your responsibilities to this class-and to your education as a whole-include attendance and participation.) You are also expected to be honest and honorable in your fulfillment of assignments and in test-taking situations (the College's policy on plagiarism and cheating is on-line in the College's Student Academic Handbook). You have a responsibility to the rest of the class-and to the instructor-to help create a classroom environment where all may learn. At the most basic level, this means that you will respect the other members of the class and the instructor, and treat them with the courtesy you hope to receive in turn."