Radio Astronomy – a younger science

So I’m reading the Committee for Radio Astronomy Frequencies Handbook. It’s a short 171 pages long and I’ll include it here if you want to read it too. CRAFhandbook3

Now radio astronomy is interesting. You can sort of credit Bell Labs with indirectly discovering the field as far back as 1932 when they were working on countering the effects of noise in 10m communications systems. But they didn’t see it as  a science, other than when the experimenter pointed his detector at the center of the Milky Way he noted a spike in activity.

Then in the mid 1960’s Penzias and Wilson discovered the cosmic background radiation.

And now the equipment necessary to do a little radio astronomy of your own is fairly inexpensive.

But you’ll ask the question – why listen to those radio waves? Well, it all depends. Just about everything radiates energy.  For example we humans radiate in the infrared band. We can’t see it, but special cameras can.

Well, in addition to radiating visible light lots of stars including our own sun radiate a whole lot of RF energy. In essence the entire range from 1Hz to the terahertz range is where things really radiate, it’s all light. Even if we can’t see it with our own eyes.

In fact one of the formula for determining the effect of a very large baseline interferometer has a wavelength/300. Now I know from amateur radio to get the wavelength you divide 300 by the frequency. It’s the same formula. One will give you the magnitude, the other the wavelength.

 

 

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