Biographical Encyclopedia of Astronomers

2014 Edition
| Editors: Thomas Hockey, Virginia Trimble, Thomas R. Williams, Katherine Bracher, Richard A. Jarrell, Jordan D. MarchéII, JoAnn Palmeri, Daniel W. E. Green

Jansky, Karl Guthe

  • John Kraus
Reference work entry

BornNorman, Oklahoma, USA, 22 October 1905

DiedRed Bank, New Jersey, USA, 14 February 1950

Karl Jansky discovered extraterrestrial radio signals and tentatively identified their origin as the center of the Milky Way Galaxy. His discovery eventually revolutionized astronomy; Jansky can properly be thought of as the founder of radio astronomy.

Jansky’s father, Cyril Methodius Jansky, was dean of the College of Engineering at the University of Oklahoma. Cyril Jansky had been born in Wisconsin of Czech immigrant parents who came to the United States in 1867. Karl’s mother, Nellie (née Moreau), was of French-English descent. In 1908 the Jansky family moved from Oklahoma to Madison where Cyril Jansky became a member of the Electrical Engineering faculty at the University of Wisconsin. Karl graduated from the university with a BS in physics in 1927. He excelled scholastically (elected to Phi Beta Kappa) and in athletics he was the fastest skater on the university’s ice-hockey team.

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Selected References

  1. Jansky, C. Moreau Jr. (1957). “The Beginnings of Radio Astronomy.” American Scientist 45: 5–12.Google Scholar
  2. Jansky, Karl G. (1932). “Directional Studies of Atmospherics at High Frequencies.” Proceedings of the Institute of Radio Engineers 20: 1920–1932.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. — (1933). “Electrical Disturbances Apparently of Extraterrestrial Origin.” Proceedings of the Institute of Radio Engineers 21: 1387–1398.Google Scholar
  4. — (1933). “Electrical Phenomena That Apparently are of Interstellar Origin.” Popular Astronomy 41: 548–555.Google Scholar
  5. — (1935). “A Note on the Source of Interstellar Interference.” Proceedings of the Institute of Radio Engineers 23: 1158–1163.Google Scholar
  6. Kraus, John D. (1966). Radio Astronomy. New York: McGraw-Hill, pp. 6, 328.Google Scholar
  7. — (1976). Big Ear. Powell, Ohio: Cygnus-Quasar Books, p. 21.Google Scholar
  8. Sullivan, III, W. T. (1984). “Karl Jansky and the Discovery of Extraterrestrial Radio Waves.” In The Early Years of Radio Astronomy, edited by W. T. Sullivan, III, pp. 3–42. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Ohio State UniversityColumbusUSA