37th DPS Meeting, 4-9 September 2005
Session 37 Radio Astronomy I
HAD Oral, Wednesday, September 7, 2005, 2:00-3:30pm, Umney Theatre, Robinson College

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[37.01] World War II Radar and Early Radio Astronomy

G. P. Smith (Caltech)

The pattern of radio astronomy which developed in Europe and Australia followed closely the development of metre wave radar in World War II. The leading pioneers, Ryle, Lovell, Hey and Pawsey, were all in radar research establishments in the UK and Australia. They returned to universities, recruited their colleagues into research groups and immediately started on some basic observations of solar radio waves, meteor echoes, and the galactic background. There was at first little contact with conventional astronomers.

This paper traces the influence of the radar scientists and of several types of radar equipment developed during WW II, notably the German Wurzburg, which was adapted for radio research in several countries. The techniques of phased arrays and antenna switching were used in radar and aircraft installations. The influence of WW II radar can be traced at least up to 10 years after the War, when radio astronomy became accepted as a natural discipline within astronomy.

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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 37 #3
© 2004. The American Astronomical Soceity.