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Open Skies

The National Radio Astronomy Observatory and Its Impact on US Radio Astronomy

  • Book
  • Open Access
  • © 2020

You have full access to this open access Book


  • Introduces the people and politics involved in the development of radio astronomy
  • Demonstrates how technological developments led to new discoveries that have changed our understanding of what matter is in the universe
  • Includes content based on original documents not found in any other book

Part of the book series: Historical & Cultural Astronomy (HCA)

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Table of contents (12 chapters)


About this book

This open access book on the history of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory covers the scientific discoveries and technical innovations of late 20th century radio astronomy with particular attention to the people and institutions involved. The authors have made extensive use of the NRAO Archives, which contain an unparalleled collection of documents pertaining to the history of radio astronomy, including the institutional records of NRAO as well as the personal papers of many of the pioneers of U.S. radio astronomy. Technical details and extensive citations to original sources are given in notes for the more technical readers, but are not required for an understanding of the body of the book.

This book is intended for an audience ranging from interested lay readers to professional researchers studying the scientific, technical, political, and cultural development of a new science, and how it changed the course of 20th century astronomy.

With a Foreword by Ron Ekers. 


“Well researched and well illustrated, Open Skies contains copious references at the end of each chapter for those wanting to learn more. It is also an open- access book … . Open Skies places the NRAO’s achievements in both a domestic and an international context. For those wanting to know about the development of post– World War II radio astronomy— and not just about the NRAO— Open Skies is essential reading.” (Wayne Orchiston, Physics Today, Vol. 75 (7), July, 2022)

“A beautifully vivid narrative bringing readers, general and professional, closer to the action, the pioneers, and their discoveries. Many photographs not seen before in the public domain add interest. Notes and bibliographies at the end of each chapter will effortlessly guide future scholars. A handy timeline of NRAO history features in an appendix. ... It is a landmark publication in the history of modern astronomy, a true masterpiece exhibiting the highest standards of scholarship." (Simon Mitton, TheObservatory, Issue 141, June, 2021)

Authors and Affiliations

  • National Radio Astronomy Observatory, Charlottesville, USA

    Kenneth I. Kellermann, Ellen N. Bouton

  • Consultant to the National Radio Astronomy Observatory Archives, Providence, USA

    Sierra S. Brandt

About the authors

K. I. Kellermann has 60 years of experience in radio astronomy including more than 50 years at NRAO. He is the former Chair of the IAU Historical Radio Astronomy Working Group, and editor of several books on the history of radio astronomy.

E. N. Bouton has been at NRAO for more than 40 years, first as Librarian and for the last 16 years as the Archivist.

S. S. Brandt is an historian of science who has worked with the NRAO Archives for the past eight years.


Bibliographic Information

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