Byrne Seminar: Radio Astronomy: Jersey Roots, Global Reach
Prof. Andrew Baker
Wednesday (1:40-3:00pm) in Serin 401
The only required textbook is The Invisible Universe: The Story of Radio
Astronomy (third edition) by Gerrit Verschuur, copies of which
should be available in the bookstore. Note that the third edition has more
chapters than previous editions of this book; please be sure to get the
Here's the official course catalog listing:
"Just like Rutgers, the field of radio astronomy- the investigation of the universe and its contents through observations of radio waves- has "Jersey Roots, Global Reach." This seminar will introduce students to the history and practice of radio astronomy with a special emphasis on discoveries made right here in New Jersey, which include the construction of the first radio telescope and the discovery of the cosmic microwave background (i.e., the afterglow of the Big Bang). Students will also learn about scientific and technical advances made by modern radio astronomers, including those on the faculty at Rutgers, and will have the opportunity to work with real data from a radio telescope."
The first class (January 25) will feature an introduction to the field of radio
astronomy, and the last class (April 19) will focus on the results of the
observing project. All classes in between will feature discussions of 2-3
chapters from the textbook. At the beginning of the semester, one student
will be assigned to lead the discussion of each chapter.
Your course grade will be based on a combination of three elements:
In this course, "discussion leadership" has several elements:
- active participation in all class discussions (40%)
- leadership of your assigned discussion(s) (40%)
- contribution to the observing project (20%)
The observing project will use archival observations of atomic hydrogen
gas in the Milky Way that were taken with the Small Radio Telescope on the
roof of Serin Laboratory. The class will collectively devise a strategy for
analyzing the data to draw conclusions about the distribution of gas in the
galaxy in which we live.
- summarizing the most important points of the reading
- articulating questions about the reading (e.g., what does a particular
technical term mean? why does the author make such a big deal about some
seemingly minor point?)
- suggesting open-ended questions for class discussion that are
inspired by the reading (e.g., what was the most important factor in a
particular discovery? does scientific progress follow the scientific method,
or is it more a series of accidents?)
Last updated March 2, 2017.
If you need to miss a class, you should report your absence at this website.
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