Essential Radio Astronomy (ERA) is a one-semester course intended for astronomy graduate students and advanced undergraduates with backgrounds in astronomy, physics, or engineering. The goal of ERA is fostering the community of researchers using radio astronomy by attracting and training the most talented university students. Therefore we are making ERA available via the world wide web at no cost.
ERA greatly simplifies the task of teaching radio astronomy at the university level. Although ERA is web-based, the text consists of full sentences and paragraphs, not just lecture notes or Powerpoint bullets; and all equations are legibly rendered in TeX. ERA also includes ten sets of problems and a final exam, with solutions. We developed ERA in 2000, 2002, and 2006 for the University of Virginia radio-astronomy course ASTR 534. ERA allowed us to use a computer and projector to display the web pages in class, nearly eliminating the need to write equations and drawings on a blackboard. Prior to each class we handed out printed versions of these pages so the students could follow the lectures without the distraction of copying everything into their notebooks. ERA is also suitable for individual or directed-study courses that don't involve lectures.