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Radio telescopes listen to the sounds of the universe.

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Radio telescopes are a form of radio receiver used in astronomy. In contrast to an "ordinary" telescope, which receives visible light, radio telescopes "see" radio waves emitted by radio sources, typically by means of a large parabolic ("dish") antenna, or arrays of them. The first of these was the 9m radio telescope constructed by Grote Reber in 1937.

Radio Telescope.
The 64 metre radio Telescope at Parkes Observatory.

In the early 1950s the Cambridge Interferometer mapped the radio sky to produce the famous 2C and 3C surveys of radio sources. In the late 1950s and early 1960s the largest single-dish radio telescope in the world was the 76 metre telescope at Jodrell Bank, which became operational in 1957. This was just the latest of many radio Telescopes constructed during the middle of the 20th century, and has been surpassed by more modern Telescopes and arrays of telescopes.

The largest individual radio telescope is the RATAN-600 (Russia) with 576 meter diameter of circular antenna (RATAN-600 description). The largest radio telescope in Europe is the 100 meter diameter antenna in Effelsberg, Germany, which also was the largest fully steerable telecope for 30 years until the Green Bank telescope was opened in 2000.

radio telescopes.
The Very Large Array, an interferometric array formed from many smaller telescopes, like many larger radio telescopes.

The largest radio telescope in the United States until 1998 was Ohio State University's The Big Ear. Other well known disk radio Telescopes include the Arecibo radio telescope located in Arecibo, Puerto Rico, which is steerable within about 20º of the zenith, and the fully steerable Lovell telescope at Jodrell Bank in the United Kingdom . A typical size of the single antenna of a radio telescope is 25 metre, dozens of radio Telescopes with comparable sizes are operated in radio observatories all over the world.

An example of the array-type radio telescope is the Very Large Array (VLA), in Socorro, New Mexico, which is an interferometric array formed from 27 individual antennas. The largest exisiting radio telescope array is the Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope, located in Pune, India. A larger array, LOFAR (the 'LOw Frequency ARray') is currently being constructed in western Europe, consisting of 25000 small antennas over an area of several 100s of kilometres in diameter.

The sub-field of astronomy related to observations made through radio Telescopes is known as radio astronomy.

Radio Telescope.
Another common design of radio Telescope is called a cylindrical paraboloid Telescope (actually the receiver shape is a parabolic prism, in this case constructed from wire mesh).

Many celestial objects, such as pulsars or active Galaxies (like quasars), produce radio-frequency radiation and so are best "visible" or even only visible in the radio region of electromagnetic spectrum. By examining the frequency, power and timing of radio emissions from these objects, Astronomers can improve our understanding of the Universe.

Radio Telescopes are also the primary means to track space probes (see Deep Space Network), and are used in the SETI project.

Beginnings of the Radio Telescopes.

Nikola Tesla in the Colorado Springs lab recorded cosmic waves emitting from interstellar clouds and red giant stars. He observed repeating signals conducted by his transceiver. He announced that he received extraterrestrial radio signals. Tesla stated that he received signals from Planets in some of the scientific journals of the time. The scientific community did not believe him, primarily because research of cosmic signals did not exist (what is known today as radio astronomy), and the community of science rejected Tesla's data. Tesla spent the latter part of his life trying to signal Mars.

One of the earliest modern investigations into extraterrestrial sources of radio waves were by Karl Guthe Jansky, an engineer with Bell Telephone Laboratories, in the early 1930s. The first object actually detected was the center of the Milky Way, followed by the sun. Grote Reber (December 22, 1911 - December 20, 2002) was one of the pioneers of radio astronomy. He was instrumental in repeating Karl Guthe Jansky's pioneering but somewhat simple work, and conducted the first sky survey in the radio frequencies. After World War II, substantial improvements in radio astronomy technology were made by Astronomers in Europe, Australia and the United States, and the field of radio astronomy began to blossom.

One of the most notable developments came in 1946 with the introduction of radio interferometry (see, for example, nature 158 pp 339 1946) by Martin Ryle's group in Cambridge (who obtained a nobel prize for this and later aperture synthesis work), also the Lloyd's mirror interferometer developed independently in 1946 by Joseph Pawsey's group at the University of Sydney (see nature 157 pp 158 1946).

More About Radio And Space Telescopes.

First Mirror Cast for the Giant Magellan Telescope

Oct 28, 2005 - Workers at the University of Arizona Steward Observatory Mirror Lab have cast the first mirror for the Giant Magellan Telescope. By the time they're complete, the lab will cast a total of 7 of these enormous 8.4-metre (27-foot) mirrors, giving the enormous observatory the equivalent of a 22-metre aperture. The Giant Magellan Telescope will be constructed in Northern Chile by 2016.

Binocular Telescope Sees First Light

Oct 26, 2005 - The massive Large Binocular Telescope, mounted atop Mount Graham in Arizona achieved a major milestone on October 12 with its first images - known as first light. The telescope is so powerful because it combines the light from its twin 8.4 metre mirrors to act as a single 11.8 metre observatory. And its adaptive optics system, which compensates for atmospheric disturbance, makes it even more powerful.

Keck Can Turn Down Starlight to See Planetary Disks

Sep 30, 2005 - The massive Keck Observatory at the top of Hawaii's Mauna Kea has learned a new trick: it can block the light from stars to see faint objects near them. This will be an invaluable tool for analyzing young star systems, since planetary disks are often impossible to see next to the dazzling light of a star. This new instrument is called a "nuller", and it's able to reduce the light from a star by a factor of 100 times. Similar technology will be used in future planet hunting missions to see dim planets lurking beside their stars.

Giant South African Telescope Online

Sep 2, 2005 - After 5 years of construction, the Southern African Large Telescope is now online, and has captured its first images - the beautiful Lagoon Nebula, globular star cluster 47 Tucanae; and NGC6744. The observatory has a massive 10 x 11 metre hexagonal segmented mirror, and state of the art scientific instrumentation. This new observatory provides a good view into the southern skies, which are less covered than the northern hemisphere. More scientific instruments are still being installed, and should be completed within the next few months.

Space Telescope Could Unfold in Space

Jul 27, 2005 - A clever new telescope design could allow engineers to pack larger folding space telescopes into smaller spaces on rockets, dramatically reducing their weight and launch costs. Inspired by amateur telescopes which can be disassembled for transport, this design could allow fleets of low cost space telescopes with bigger mirrors than Hubble. They could be used for detailed Earth observation, astronomical observations, or even be sent to other planets and moons to examine their surfaces in extreme detail.

APEX Telescope Sees First Light

Jul 15, 2005 - The Atacama Pathfinder Experiment (APEX) achieved a new milestone this week when it made its first observations. APEX consists of a 12-metre telescope designed to view the Universe at submillimeter wavelengths: a part of the radio spectrum especially useful for viewing colder objects. APEX is the same instrument that will eventually go into the much larger ALMA project, which will consist of at least 64 of these telescopes, arrayed to function as a single instrument.

Extremely Large Telescope Takes the Next Step

Jul 7, 2005 - Bigger is better. When you're making a telescope, you want to construct the biggest mirror you can. The European consortium building the Extremely Large Telescope (ELT) - a monster observatory with a main mirror that will be between 50-100 metres - moved a step closer to building their telescope today by releasing the scientific case. If development moves forward, the ELT could begin construction within a few years, and be complete by 2015. Where Hubble can resolve objects 95 m (311 feet) apart on the Moon, the ELT could resolve objects 2 m (6.5 feet) apart.

Making the Mirror for the World's Largest Telescope

Jun 27, 2005 - Workers at the University of Arizona's Steward Observatory Mirror Lab have begun pre-firing one of the 8.4 metre mirror segments as part of the construction of the Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT). When it's finally completed in 2016, the GMT will be the largest telescope in the world, consisting of 7 of these 8.4 metre mirrors aligned to work as a single mirror 25.6 metres across - with 10 times the resolution of the Hubble Space Telescope.

Capturing the Fastest Events in the Universe

Jun 9, 2005 - A new high-speed camera has been mounted to the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope in Chile. This ultra fast camera is called ULTRACAM, and it's capable of recording some of the most rapid astronomical events. It's capable of taking 500 pictures a second, so it will be used to watch any object that can change quite rapidly, like black holes, gamma ray bursts, white dwarfs or cataclysmic variables.

Really Big Telescopes are Coming

Apr 8, 2005 - If you think current telescopes are powerful, just you wait. A new class of observatories are in the works that could sport mirrors as large as 100 metres (328 feet) across, and have 40 times the observing power of the Hubble Space Telescope. A new study developed by a commission of European astronomers proposes that instruments this large could be built for approximately 1 billion Euros and take 10-15 years to construct.

A Pristine View of the Universe... from the Moon

Jan 28, 2005 - The Hubble Space Telescope has unquestionably shown the benefits of a space-based observatory, but having a telescope far from Earth offers the current conundrum of how to maintain such a facility. Since NASA’s Vision for Space Exploration is seemingly leading humans back to the moon, why not construct an observatory there? A group of scientists from the U.S. and Canada are exploring the option of building a Deep-Field Infrared Observatory in one of the moon’s polar craters. Although not quite a garden spot, this location would provide an excellent site for a very large and very unique spinning liquid mirror telescope.

Work Begins on Magellan Giant Telescope

Dec 13, 2004 - When it's complete, the Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT) will be the world's largest observatory, with a primary mirror 25.4 metres (83 feet) across - 4.5 times the collecting power of any telescope on Earth. The GMT is scheduled to be completed in 2016, in a remote location in Northern Chile, which has some of the best viewing conditions in the world. The observatory will be built using 7 primary mirrors arranged in a flower pattern, and reuse the manufacturing equipment that helped build the Large Binocular Telescope mirrors now being installed on Mt. Graham.

Stromlo Opens Up Again After the Fire

Nov 2, 2004 - Although Australia's Mt. Stromlo was devastated in January 2003 by wildfires, the first stage of reconstruction is complete, and the observatory is back in business. The observatory's visitor centre opened its doors to the public on October 30, and gave visitors a chance to explore the reconstruction and do a little skywatching with its rebuilt and brand new telescopes. Before the fire, Stromlo saw 70,000 visitors a year, and researchers used its instruments to make many important contributions to astronomy. Phase two of the reconstruction is now underway.

Arizona Telescope Turned Into a Robot

Oct 20, 2004 - Engineers have finished converting a telescope in Arizona into a robot. The Peters Automated Infrared Imaging Telescope (PAIRITEL), based at the Fred L. Whipple Observatory at Mt. Hopkins, Arizona will now be used to analyze gamma ray bursts (GRBs) and other short-lived events. PAIRITEL will receive alerts from NASA's Swift spacecraft, which will detect GRBs from any part of the sky. In under 2 minutes, it'll automatically be focused on the region where the GRB happened, and then start watching to see how events unfold after the explosion. This should give astronomers plenty of data to help understand what causes these enormous explosions.

Radio Telescopes Around the World Combine in Real Time

Oct 8, 2004 - European and US astronomers have linked up their radio telescopes for the first time in real-time, through the Internet. The researchers have created the world's biggest virtual radio telescope by merging observations from instruments in the UK, Sweden, the Netherlands, Poland, and Puerto Rico. The virtual instrument has a resolution which is 5 times better than the Hubble Space Telescope. The team imaged an object called IRC+10420, a star nearing the end of its life; at some point in the near future it'll explode as a supernova.

Here Come The Thirty Metre Telescopes

Sep 27, 2004 - When it comes to astronomy, size is everything. The biggest telescope on the planet is the 11-metre Hobby-Eberly on Mount Fowlkes in Texas. And the twin 10-metre Keck telescopes perched atop Mauna Kea on the Big Island of Hawaii can work in tandem to act as an even larger telescope. But there are new observatories in the works, with telescopes that will be 30-metres across and larger. Once these turn their gaze into the heavens, astronomers will have some amazingly powerful tools at their disposal.

It's Cold, But the View is Great

Sep 16, 2004 - Researchers from Australia have demonstrated that an observatory in Antarctica can produce images of the sky several times better than telescopes at mid latitudes. A team of astronomers from the University of New South Wales made observations using a robotic telescope in an observatory called "Dome C" on the Antarctic Plateau, 3250 metres (10,600 feet) above sea level. They found that the sharpness of images was three times better than the best sites used by astronomers in other locations. An 8m telescope here would function like a 25m telescope anywhere else - at a fraction of the cost of a space-based observatory.

Radio Astronomy Will Get a Boost With the Square Kilometer Array

Sep 15, 2004 - It will probe the dark ages before the era of re-ionization, and perhaps before the birth of the first stars. It will observe the formation of the first galaxies. It will map the web of neutral Hydrogen that is spread across our universe, near and far. In 2015, an array of 4400 twelve meter fully steerable paraboloid radio dishes, called the Square Kilometer Array (SKA) is scheduled to be complete and operational.

Robotic Telescopes Team Up

Sep 14, 2004 - British scientists are working on a project that would link up robotic telescopes around the world so they could get the jump on events in the night sky, and keep watching regardless of day or night, or local weather conditions. It's always nighttime somewhere, so the network would connect the telescopes so they can transfer their targets to one another continuously, essentially watching an object around the clock. It's currently planned for three telescopes, but a future version would connect six telescopes.

New Instrument Finds its First Supernova

Jun 24, 2004 - The Supernova Integral Field Spectrograph (SNIFS), a new instrument designed to examine exploding stars, has observed its first target: supernova SN 2004cr. Mounted on board the University of Hawaii's 2.2 metre telescope on Mauna Kea, the instrument is designed to simultaneously observe a supernova, its home galaxy, and the surrounding sky. It should make very precise measurements of Type 1A supernovae, which are considered by astronomers to be "standard candles" - every explosion is the same brightness, so you can use them to measure the distance to galaxies.

Links For Radio And Space Telescopes.

AMANDA (Antarctic Muon and Neutrino Detector Array - A high-energy neutrino telescope located at the South Pole.
Archenhold-Sternwarte Berlin - The great public observatory in Germany
Astronomical Observatories in Spain - The professional astronomical observatories that dedicates to astrophysics research in Spain.
Auckland's Stardome Observatory - New Zealand's leading public observatory and planetarium, with shows most days, active research program and associated astronomical society.
Australia Telescope National Facility - is an organisation that supports and undertakes research in radio astronomy, it is a Division of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) Australia.
Ballaarat Observatory
Birr Castle Demesne Voyage of Discovery - The site is based around the world's largest telescope (from 1845 to 1917) built by the Third Earl of Rosse and other inventions and contributions to science and technology made by the Parsons family
Bluebird Observatory Online - A popular working amateur astronomical observatory with much original astronomy material.
Caelum et Terra - Our site is devoted to historical scientific education, in particular concerning astronomy. You can find, for example, some digitalized ancient astronomical atlases and other educational material...
Cosmic Images - This site displays recent lunar, planetary and deep space images taken at Kohl Observatory.
CSIRO - Radio Astronomy Sector - CSIRO's Australia Telescope National Facility (ATNF) supports Australia's research in radio astronomy
CSIRO Parkes Radio Observatory, ATNF
Dr. Jerry P. Galloway Astronomy - "Jacqueline Rose Observatory is available in NW Indiana owned by Dr. Galloway. With a large LX200-14"" the JRO is dedicated to casual observing for friends and community."
Dunsink Observatory - Ireland's oldest scientific institution, founded in 1783.
Eagle Observatory
Gilgandra Observatory - Open to the public since 1975. Look at the southern sky through our telescope and learn the wonders of the heavens.
Goodsell Observatory
Griffith Observatory
Hohenkarpfen Observatory - "Info about the observatories with a 24"" and 20"" telescopes as well as a 14"" Schmidt Camera."
Joint Astronomy Centre - JAC is an astronomy research establishment that opertates two telescopes, the UK Infrared telescope (UKIRT) and the James Clerk Maxwell Submm telescope (JCMT) from Mauna Kea, Hawaii.
Koolang Astronomical Observatory - a public astronomical observatory and science display centre
Lucile Miller Observatory
Milkyweb Astronomical Observatory Guide - Worldwide Database with astronomical observatories, selectable by country. Profile for each observatory. Entry for free.
Moore Observatory - James and Barbara Moore Observatory Port Charlotte Campus of Edison Community College. Offers Public Observing and Astronomy Courses.
Moore Observatory - Located on a wildlife refuge and specializing in wide-field spectroscopy.
Mount Stromlo
NRAO Tuscon - The National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Tucson, Arizona specializes in the development of millimeter wave astronomical observatories
Palomar Observatory Public Site - Information about history, current research, and visiting the observatory.
See View Observatory - See View Observatory, an amateur run observatory based in the UK. With images, articles, local informatiom and more...
Seven Hills Observatory
Sky View Observatory - Sky View is an astronomical observatory located in central New Jersey.
Springbrook Observatory QLD AUST - The Observatory is involved in deep space imaging using ccd camera equipment.Open to the public of all ages 7day a week weather permiting
Szeged Observatory - astronomical research and education at the University of Szeged, Hungary
Volkssternwarte Paderborn e.V. - Paderborn Public Astronomical Observatory - Germany
Warren Rupp Observatory - Ohio's Best Kept Secret! Offering Public Programs and so much more! Visit us soon...
Whole Earth Blazar (WEB) Telescope - a network of optical observers who in concert have the capability to obtain continuous, high-temporal-density, optical monitoring of blazars.
1.2 Meter Southern Columbia Millimeter Telescope
60 Foot Solar Tower
Ahlnilam Observatory
Anglo-Australian Observatory
Apache Point Observatory
Arcturus Observatory
Armagh Observatory Home Page
Asiago Observatory
Astrometry and Celestial Mechanics, NAOJ.
Astronomical Observatory - University of Ghent
Astronomical Observatory of Bologna
Astronomical Observatory of Cagliari
Astronomical Observatory of Padua
Astronomski Observatorij
Australia Telescope Compact Array
Automated Astrophysical Site-Testing Observatory
Automated Patrol Telescope
Barden Ridge Observatory
Bellatrix Astronomical Observatory
Big Bear Solar Observatory
Black Forest Observatory
Bluebird Observatory Online
Bordeaux Observatory
Boserup Amateur Observatory
Boyd Observatories
Bradley Observatory
Bucknell Observatory
Burke-Gaffney Observatory
Byurakan Astrophysical Observatory
Caltech Submillimeter Observatory
Cambridge Optical Aperture Synthesis Telescope
Canada-France-Hawaii Observatory
Capella's Observatory
Carlsberg Meridian Telescope
Carter Observatory
Catania Astrophysical Observatory
Center for Astrophysical Research in Antarctica (CARA)
Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory
Chabot Space & Science Center
Chabot Space and Science Center
Cincinnati Observatory Center
College of Staten Island Astrophysical Observatory
Cosmic Rays
Custer Observatory
CWRU Warner and Swasey Observatory
Danish Telescopes
David Dunlap Observatory
Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory
Dyer Observatory
Eschenberg Observatory
Estación de Observación Solar
European Southern Observatory
Fox Observatory
Fremont Peak Observatory Association
Gemini Observatory
Global Network of Astronomical Telescopes
Goodricke-Pigott Observatory
Gothard Astrophysical Observatory
Gran Telescopio CANARIAS, GTC Project
Grove Creek Observatory, Australia
Gunma Astronomical Observatory
Hanna City Robotic Observatory
Haystack Observatory
Heinrich Hertz Submillimeter Telescope Observatory
Heliophysical Observatory of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences
High Altitude Observatory
Home-Dome and Pro-Dome Observatories
Hook Observatory
Hopkins Ultraviolet Telescope
Hubble Data Archive
Hubble Space Telescope
Hundred Foot Observatory
Infrared Space Observatory
Institute for Space Applications and Remote Sensing, National Observatory o
Internetseite der Sternwarte Crimmitschau
Iowa Robotic Telescope Facility
James Clerk Maxwell Telescope
James Webb Space Telescope
KAO Home Page
Keele Observatory
Kirkwood Observatory
Kitt Peak National Observatory
Konkoly Observatory
Korea Astronomy Observatory
Kuma Kogen Astronomical Observatory
La Silla Homepage
Lake Afton Observatory
Large Binocular Telescope
Las Brisas Observatory
Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory
LAT Group 70
Leiden Observatory
Limber Observatory
LLC Observatory
L'Osservatorio di Capodimonte
Lone Star Observatory
Lowell Observatory
Lund Observatory
Maidanak Foundation
Mauna Loa Observatory
MDM Observatory
Mic's Mobile Observatory
Mills Observatory
Misato Observatory
MIT Haystack Observatory
MMT Observatory
Moonglow Observatory
Morden Observatory Homepage
Mount Diablo
Mount Megantic Observatory
Mount Wilson Observatory
Mt. Graham International Observatory
Mt. Suhora Observatory
Mueller Observatory
NASA Infrared Telescope Facility
National Astronomical Observatory
National Astronomical Observatory of Spain
National Observatory of Athens
National Optical Astronomy Observatories
National Radio Astronomy
National Undergraduate Research Observatory
New Mexico Skies
NF/Observatory Home Page
Nordic Optical Telescope
Norman Lockyer Observatory
Northern Cross Observatory
Oak Creek Observatory
Observario Astronomico di Trieste
Observatoire Astronomique de Strasbourg
Observatoire de Besancon
Observatoire de Cote d'Azur
Observatoire de Geneve
Observatoire de Haute -Province
Observatoire de Nancy
Observatoire de Paris
Observatoire Midi-pyrenes
Observatorio de Torino
Observatorio del Colegio Nacional de Buenos Aires
Observatorio Nacional
Observatorio Sommers-Bausch
Onsala Space Observatory
Osservatorio Astrofisico di Arcetri
Osservatorio Astronomico di Bologna
Osservatorio Astronomico di Palermo
Parsonburg Observatory
Perkins Observatory
Perth Observatory
Pheonix Public Observatory
Pine Bluff Observatory
Pine Mountain Observatory
Polaris Observatory Association
Poznan Astronomical Observatory
Pucket Observatory
Quail Hollow Observatory
Radio Astronomy Observatory
Rainwater Observatory
Rattlesnake Mountain Observatory
Rothney Astrophysical Observatory
Royal Observatory Edinburgh
Russian Academy of Sciences, Astrophysical Observatory
Science Archive Facility
Seb's Observatory
Sev's Observatory
SFASU Observatory
Shanghai Astronomical Observatory
Sodankylä Geophysical Observatory
SOFIA Homepage
Sommers-Bausch Observatory
South African Astronomical Observatory
Southeastern Association for Research and Astronomy
Southern Sky Observatory
Space Infrared Telescope Facility
Space Telescope European Coordinating Facility
Stockholme Observatory
Stony Ridge Observatory
Stromlo Exploratory
Subaru Telescope
Submillimeter Telescope Observatory
Sydney Observatory
Tartu Observatory
Tartu Tahetorn
Telescopio Nazionale Galileo
Thunderchild Observatory
Timisoara Astronomical Observatory
Tuorla Observatory
Tuorla University
Tycho Brahe Observatory
U.C. Berkeley Infrared Spatial Interferometer
United Kingdom Infrared Telescope
University Observatory Goettingen
University of California Observatories/Lick Observatory
University of Toronto Southern Observatory
Uppsala Astronomical Observatory
UT Austin McDonald Observatory
Van Vleck Observatory
Vatican Observatory
Very Large Telescope Survey Telescope
Visnjan Observatory
VLBI Space Observatory Programme
W.A. Gayle Observatory
W.M. Keck Observatory
Warren Rupp Observatory
Warsaw University Astronomical Observatory
Whiten Observatory
Whole Earth Telescope
Woodlands Observatory
Worth Hill Observatory
Yerkes Observatory

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