Snezana Stanimirovic: Banner

AST 510 - Radio Astronomy Lab, Spring 2012

Class results from spring 2012!

Classroom: 3521 Sterling Hall
Time: Wed 11:00-11:50, Fri 11:00-1:00
Office hours:Wed & Fri 2-4pm

Course Introduction:

This course provides an introduction to the tools and techniques of modern observational radio astronomy. The fundamentals of radio astronomy, modern radio instrumentation and observing techniques, will be covered through a mixture of class-room lectures and hands-on observational projects with the Small Radio Telescope (SRT) on the roof of Sterling Hall. While analyzing observations in IDL, and writting lab reports in LaTeX, students will also gain experience with basic astronomical research infrastructure.


2.3-m Small Radio Telescope on the roof of Sterling Hall. Credit: Rick VanDer Geest, UW Madison Astronomy

The Small Radio Telescope is a 2.3. meter radio dish bought by the Astronomy Department from the Haystack Observatory and installed on Sterling roof by Rick VanDer Geest and Rick Williams. The SRT allows continuum and spectral line observations over the frequency range 1400-1440 MHz.

Literature:

Single-Dish Radio Astronomy: Techniques and Applications, ASP Conference Proceedings, Vol. 278. Edited by Snezana Stanimirovic, Daniel Altschuler, Paul Goldsmith, and Chris Salter. (copies of appropriate chapters will be provided)
Essential Radio Astronomy, Condon & Ransom (NRAO), available only on-line
SRT Manual

Course Schedule:

Jan 25: Course Introduction, Radio window and Radio Universe
Jan 27: Getting started with the Small Radio Telescope
Feb 01: Brightness, flux density, and antenna-sky coupling
Feb 03: Lab 1 - Measuring the telescope beam pattern
Feb 08: Radiative transfer and effects of Earth's atmosphere
Feb 10: continue with Lab 1
Feb 15: Antenna Fundamentals - Hertz dipole
Feb 17: Lab 2 - Measure the telescope aperture efficiency
Feb 22: Antenna Fundamentals - Reflector antennas
Feb 25: Work on problem sets and Lab 2
Feb 29: Introduction to radio interferometry by Dr. Ann Mao
Mar 02: continue with Lab 2
Mar 07: Advanced interferometry by Prof. Eric Wilcots
Mar 09: finalize Lab 2
Mar 14: Finish Reflector antennas and beam patterns
Mar 16: Lab 3 - Solar variability at 1.4 GHz
Mar 21: Radiometers: from voltage to spectra
Mar 23: continue with Lab 3
Mar 28: Bacis of HI
Mar 30: Lab 4: Measuring the thickness of the Milky Way's disk in HI
Spring break
Apr 11: Deriving Milky Way's rotation curve with HI
Apr 13: continue with Lab 4
Apr 18: Kinematic distances and HI disk structure of the Milky Way
Apr 20: Lab 5: Measuring the Milky Way's rotation curve with HI
Apr 25: More on MW structure through HI observations
Apr 27: continue with Lab 5
May 2: More on MW structure through HI observations
May 4: Finish Lab 5
May 9: lecture by Prof. Timbie on 21cm cosmology
May 11: class presentations

Useful Resources:

A short Unix Primer (written by Prof. Carl Heiles at UC Berkeley)
Quick IDL Tutorial 1 (written by Prof. Carl Heiles at UC Berkeley)
Quick IDL Tutorial 2: Data types and structures (written by Prof. Carl Heiles at UC Berkeley)
Basics of LaTeX for scientific papers and reports