[IAU logo]

[URSI logo]

[Karl Jansky at his antenna]
Jansky and his antenna. NRAO/AUI image

[Reber's Wheaton antenna]
Reber's Wheaton antenna. NRAO/AUI image

[Dover Heights]
Dover Heights. Photo supplied by Wayne Orchiston

[4C telescope]
4C telescope. NRAO/AUI image

[Ewen and horn antenna]
Ewen and the horn antenna, Harvard, 1951. Photo supplied by Ewen

[Dwingeloo, 1956]
Dwingeloo, 1956. ASTRON image

[Jocelyn Bell Burnell and Cambridge antenna used in pulsar discovery]
Jocelyn Bell Burnell and Cambridge antenna used in pulsar discovery. Bell Burnell image

[Lovell Telescope at Jodrell Bank]
Lovell Telescope at Jodrell Bank. Image © Anthony Holloway

[Wilson, Penzias, and Bell Labs horn antenna]
Wilson, Penzias, and Bell Labs horn antenna. Bell Labs image

[6-m Millimeter Radio Telescope in Mitaka, Japan]
6-m Mm Telescope in Mitaka, Japan. NAOJ image


Resources on History of Radio Astronomy

If you know of useful resources to add to this list, please contact us.

Parent Commissions



  • National Radio Astronomy Observatory Archives: Institutional records for NRAO. Papers of individuals: Donald C. Backer, Alan H. Barrett, Ronald N. Bracewell, Robert L. Brown, Bernard F. Burke, Marshall H. Cohen, John W. Findlay, Mark A. Gordon, David S. Heeschen, David E. Hogg, Kenneth I. Kellermann, John D. Kraus, Grote Reber, Morton S. Roberts, Arthur M. Shalloway, A. Richard Thompson, James S. Ulvestad, Paul A. Vanden Bout, and Campbell M. Wade, as well as Woodruff T. Sullivan's radio astronomy history research materials and his oral interviews with radio astronomers.
  • CSIRO Radio Astronomy Image Archive. The CSIRO Radio Astronomy Image Archive holds a collection of over 15,000 images that relate to the early history of radio astronomy in Australia. These images were taken between 1943 and 1996, by professional photographers at the CSIRO Division of Radiophysics and the CSIRO Australia Telescope National Facility.

Individual Astronomers

Workshops and History Talks

Early Radio Astronomy Courses

  • Early Radio Astronomy Courses: Course notes in pdf of two early radio astronomy courses:

    • The first known academic course specifically on radio astronomy was taught by Hendrik C. van de Hulst (1918-2000), first at Leiden in Fall 1950, then again in Spring semester 1951 as Astronomy 241b at Harvard University, where van de Hulst was a Visiting Professor.
    • Another early course in radio astronomy was given at the California Institute of Technology in both the Spring and Fall terms of 1958 as Ay 133 by Kevin C. Westfold (1921-2001)), then a Visiting Professor on leave from the Radiophysics Division, Sydney.

Recognized Historic Radio Telescopes

  • Reber Radio Telescope, Green Bank, West Virginia, USA, was designated as a [US] National Historical Landmark in 1990. The telescope was designed and built by Grote Reber in 1937, the first parabolic antenna specifically designed and built to do research in the newly emerging field of radio astronomy. After some years in storage at National Bureau of Standards, in 1958-1960 Reber used original parts to reconstruct the telescope at the entrance of the Green Bank Observatory. In 1972 the telescope was listed on the National Register of Historic Places by the Antiquities Commission of the State of West Virginia.
  • The Stockert 25m radio telescope in Stockert, Germany, was inaugurated in 1956 and listed as an historical Monument in the UNESCO Astronomy and World Heritage portal in 1999.
  • In 2007, the Dwingeloo 25 meter radio telescope in Dwingeloo, The Netherlands, was recognized as a protected national monument by the Netherlands National Cultural Heritage Agency.
  • The Bell Labs 20 Foot Horn Antenna, built by Bell Labs in 1960 in Holmdel, New Jersey, USA, was used by Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson in 1964-1965 for their Nobel Prize-winning discovery of the Cosmic Microwave Background. The horn was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1989, and to the American Physical Society's list of Historic Sites in 2008.
  • The Parkes 64m Radio Telescope, affectionately known as "the Dish," has been in operation since 1961, and, as one of the telescopes comprising CSIRO's Australia Telescope National Facility, continues to be at the forefront of astronomical discovery. Declared an Australian Heritage Site on 10 August 2020, "Parkes Observatory is nationally significant in the course of Australian cultural history for its importance to the history of Australian astronomy, and for its association with the Apollo 11 moon landing."
  • Puerto Rico's Arecibo Telescope, National Astronomy and Ionosphere Center, was dedicated in 1963 and, until its final collapse on 1 December 2020, was the world's largest single-aperture telescope, with capabilities derived from its unique design. If functioned actively as a radar telescope and passively as a radio telescope, a versitility that led to many important discoveries. It was declared an IEEE Milestone in 2001, and added to the National Register of Historic Places in September 2008.
  • Jodrell Bank Observatory in northwest England was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2019 because of its importance in the pioneering phase and later evolution of radio astronomy.
  • 6-m Millimeter Radio Telescope in Mitaka, Japan, added to 2019 Japan Astronomical Heritage list. Built in 1970 by the Tokyo Astronomical Observatory (predecessor of NAOJ), it was the third millimeter-wave radio telescope in the world and the first in Japan.

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Modified on Wednesday, 19-Apr-2023 13:56:24 EDT. Page maintained by Ellen Bouton, NRAO Archivist (Questions or feedback)