The Educational Role of Small Telescopes in Radio Astronomy
Radio astronomy provides an excellent educational opportunity for students since it exposes them to multi-disciplinary principles found in engineering, physics and mathematics. Motivated by the potential for exciting discovery through astronomical observations, students learn through the process of making measurements, analyzing the data, and interpreting the observations. Observing tools in radio astronomy, however, have not been generally or easily accessible to students, particularly at the undergraduate or pre-college levels, since the number of radio telescopes and the availability of time on these telescopes have been limited. In order to resolve this problem, the MIT Haystack Observatory has developed a small radio telescope (SRT) that can be assembled as a kit by students and used in basic observations that help train them in the techniques of radio astronomy. The Haystack SRT and the experiments that can be conducted with it are described in this chapter, and its important role in training students in the use of larger telescopes for research is discussed.
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