[H.C. van de Hulst]
H.C. van de Hulst (Photo courtesy of Harm Habing/Leiden Observatory)

[Westfold in Cambridge, 1950]
Westfold in Cambridge, 1950 (Photo courtesy of Miller Goss)


Early Radio Astronomy Courses

A Course in Radio Astronomy, Hendrik C. van de Hulst, 1951

The first known academic course specifically on radio astronomy was taught by Hendrik C. van de Hulst (1918-2000), first at Leiden in Fall 1950, then again in Spring semester 1951 as Astronomy 241b at Harvard University, where van de Hulst was a Visiting Professor. By chance, it was during this very period that H.I. Ewen and E.M. Purcell discovered the 21 cm hydrogen line that van de Hulst had predicted in 1944.

Professor van de Hulst notes in his introduction that, "The lectures were intended to make graduate students in astronomy and physics appreciate the problems and possibilities of radio astronomy and to give them a survey of the results....The notes were written as assignments by the Harvard students, R.B. Dunn, F.Q. Orrall, H.J. Smith, A. Wyller, and H. Zirin." An additional chapter on radar astronomy was contributed by Frank J. Kerr, who was then completing a Masters degree in Astronomy at Harvard, on leave from the Radiophysics Division in Sydney. When van de Hulst returned to Leiden, he further edited these notes, aided by students Gart Westerhout and Hugo van Woerden, who had both taken the course in 1950. The notes were published informally in a mimeograph-type medium, and offered for sale for 8 guilders (~$2) to the astronomical community. For us today they provide an invaluable review of the status of the young field of radio astronomy in 1951.

The pdf presented here was made by W. Miller Goss from a paper copy belonging to Woodruff T. Sullivan III. The underlining and annotations throughout the text were made by Sullivan.

Radio Astronomy, Kevin C. Westfold, 1958

Another early course in radio astronomy was given at the California Institute of Technology in both the Spring and Fall terms of 1958 as Ay 133 by Kevin C. Westfold (1921-2001)), then a Visiting Professor on leave from the Radiophysics Division, Sydney. These notes focus much more on the theoretical aspects of radio emission.

The pdf presented here was made by W. Miller Goss from a paper copy belonging to Barry Clark, who took the course as an undergraduate student. The notes were originally in mimeograph form, but were never bound or formally distributed.

The NRAO Archives thanks Drs. Clark, Goss, and Sullivan for their help in making these courses available. We would be pleased to add additional early radio astronomy course notes to this Web page. Please contact Ellen Bouton, Archivist, at 1-434-296-0203, to discuss the potential addition of other course notes.

Further information on both Van de Hulst and Westfold may be found in the Papers of Woodruff T. Sullivan III.


Modified on Wednesday, 13-Jul-2016 16:18:10 EDT by Ellen Bouton