Radio Astronomy 598

Professor Danny Jacobs
Office: <ASU ZOOM Office>
ASU Class Number: SES 598 Graduate, SES 498 Undergrad
– 50% attendance and participation
– 50% final project presentation and report
Pre-requisites: Electromagnetism, Circuits, Astronomy

Outcomes: technical proficiency in radio astronomical observations and analysis; conversant in recent and historical radio observations; complete at least one observation.

Organization: We will meet on Zoom via ASU Sync. We’ll be setting up a receiver which might require optional in-person action for a limited subset of the class. 


  • Day 1 Class organization, projects and the Radio Window (pdf)
  • Day 2 Astronomy with Radio (pdf)
  • Day 3-4 Radiative transfer and thermodynamics (pdf notes)
  • Day 5 E&M Propagation, Antennas, and Horns (pdf notes)
  • Day 6 Brightness Temp, Effective Area, etc units (pdf notes)
  • Day 7 Dishes Great and Small (pdf notes, slide show, Green Bank 140′ movie (short, long))
  • Day 8 Digital Signal Processing (pdf notes, Danny Price’s Chapter)
  • Day 9-10 Imaging Tutorial (See notes below)
  • Day 11 Second Imaging Tutorial (Notes TBD)
  • Day 12 Synthesis Imaging (pdf slides)


Essential Radio Astronomy (aka ERA), Ransom and Condon, online, book
Synthesis Imaging in Radio Astronomy II (aka The white book), Taylor et al 1999 –
Interferometry and Synthesis in Radio Astronomy (aka TMS), Thompson, Moran, and Swenson (pdf) (book)
Radio Astronomy, Krause
Tools of Radio Astronomy, Wilson, Rholfs, and Huttenmeister, book

Class project details

Instrumentation project: Build a horn radiometer and measure the galactic 21cm signal. Galactic 21cm Horn. This is a summary page with links to more material. (2 Feb 2020)

Analysis Project: Reproduce the detection of a flare from Proxima Centauri by Alma. See MacGregor et al 2018. Data are findable on the alma data archive which itself is findable on the internet.

Etc Links

Greg Taylor (UNM)’s Radio Astronomy class (2017)
More general radio astronomy
Source catalogs.
Data Analysis Tutorials:

Fourier Transform Tutorials (interactive tutorial)

Digital Signal Processing
A fairly recent textbook chapter by Danny Price.
The CASPER consortium develops open source FPGA blocks for radio astronomy

Imaging Tutorials

VLA Tutorial #1

There are a very small number of quality well supported options for reducing data. Data from ALMA, VLA and other telescopes with significant NRAO involvement are commonly analyzed with CASA. The homepage has recently been “improved”. But the Documentation is still well organized. We will use data from the VLA SNR_G55 Continuum Tutorial but shorten things up a bit by following this tutorial from our HERA bootcamp.

CASA updates every 6 months so I better get the latest. The most recent version is available in a pip package! Danny attempted to execute the tutorial in a jupyter notebook. His notes rapidly took on a darkly comedic aspect which might unfairly inspire student dread. They have been moved to a google doc until fit to reenter society. Message me for the link. -DCJ 16 Feb 2021

VLA Imaging Tutorial #2

In this tutorial we will reduce an observation in the traditional way from raw data to images including flagging and calibration. This is data reduction in its most essential form. VLA Continuum Tutorial 3c391.