During March–April 1945, solar radio emission was detected at 200 MHz by operators of a Royal New Zealand Air Force radar unit located on Norfolk Island. Initially dubbed the ‘Norfolk Island Effect’, this anomalous radiation was investigated throughout 1945 by British-born Elizabeth Alexander, head of the Operational Research Section of the Radio Development Laboratory in New Zealand. Alexander prepared a number of reports on this work, and in early 1946 she published a short paper in the newly-launched journal, Radio & Electronics. A geologist by training, Elizabeth Alexander happened to be in the right place at the right time, and unwittingly became the first woman in the world to work in the field that would later become known as radio astronomy. Her research also led to further solar radio astronomy projects in New Zealand in the immediate post-war year, and in part was responsible for the launch of the radio astronomy program at the Division of Radiophysics, CSIRO, in Sydney.

Key words

Radio astronomy New Zealand ‘Norfolk Island Effect’ solar radio emission 


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Copyright information

© Springer 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Wayne Orchiston
    • 1
  1. 1.Anglo-Australian Observatory & Australia Telescope National FacilityEppingAustralia

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