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Cosmic Noise: A History of Early Radio Astronomy

By: Woodruff T Sullivan III(Author)

574 pages, 132 b/w illustrations

Cambridge University Press

Hardback | Nov 2009 | #205109 | ISBN-13: 9780521765244
Availability: Usually dispatched within 6 days Details
NHBS Price: £124.00 $158/€138 approx

About this book

Providing a definitive history of the formative years of radio astronomy, Cosmic Noise: A History of Early Radio Astronomy is invaluable for historians of science, scientists and engineers. The whole of worldwide radio and radar astronomy is covered, beginning with the discoveries by Jansky and Reber of cosmic noise before World War II, through the wartime detections of solar noise, the discovery of radio stars, lunar and meteor radar experiments, the detection of the hydrogen spectral line, to the discoveries of Hey, Ryle, Lovell and Pawsey in the decade following the war, revealing an entirely different sky from that of visual astronomy.

Using contemporary literature, correspondence and photographs, Cosmic Noise: A History of Early Radio Astronomy tells the story of the people who shaped the intellectual, technical, and social aspects of the field now known as radio astronomy.

Cosmic Noise: A History of Early Radio Astronomy features quotes from over a hundred interviews with pioneering radio astronomers, giving fascinating insights into the development of radio astronomy. Woodruff T. Sullivan III has been awarded the 2012 Leroy E. Doggett Prize for Historical Astronomy.


1. Prologue
2. Searching for solar hertzian waves
3. Jansky and his star static
4. Grote Reber: science in your backyard
5. Wartime discovery of the radio sun
6. Hey's army group after the war
7. Radiophysics laboratory, Sydney
8. Ryle's group at the Cavendish
9. Lovell at Jodrell Bank
10. Other radio astronomy groups before 1952
11. Meteor radar
12. Reaching for the moon
13. The radio sun
14. Radio stars
15. Theories of galactic noise
16. The 21-cm hydrogen line
17. New astronomers
18. A new astronomy


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Woodruff T. Sullivan III is Professor of Astronomy and Adjunct Professor of History at the University of Washington, Seattle. Trained as a radio astronomer, his research has included radio studies of the interstellar medium in our own and other galaxies, the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, and astrobiology.

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