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SIR WILLIAM HERSCHEL
SIR WILLIAM HERSCHEL
Germany (1738 - 1822)
Sir Frederick William Herschel was a German-born British astronomer and composer who became famous for discovering Uranus. He also discovered infrared radiation and made many other discoveries in astronomy.
 

Disfrute estos perspicaces y educacionales videoclips obtenidos de más de 70 horas de entrevistas con las más notables figuras en astronomía tomadas durante la filmación del documental 400 Años del Telescopio.

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Butler Burton

The chemistry of interstellar space
Butler Burton - NRAO, Green Bank

What is perhaps surprising about the molecules that have been detected is that so many of them are very familiar to us. Carbon monoxide – car exhaust. Alcohol. Ethanol. Formaldehyde – embalming fluid. Formic acid – what stings if an ant bites you. mercaptan – what smells if a skunk skunks you.

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Butler Burton

The Green Bank Telescope (GBT)
Butler Burton - NRAO, Green Bank

The Green Bank telescope is a section of a parabola 100 meters across, weighs 16 million pounds. It’s one of the largest moveable structures on land.

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Butler Burton

The development of radio astronomy
Butler Burton - NRAO, Green Bank

Radio telescopes have changed over the course of the past 50-70 years, but basically the modern radio telescopes all consist of a reflecting mirror which focuses the image in the receiver.

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Butler Burton

Jansky and Reber
Butler Burton - NRAO, Green Bank

Karl Jansky was a radio engineer. He was pulled off of this project by the telephone company who were more interested in practical matters. Although some astronomers had heard of this discovery, astronomers were not radio engineers, radio engineers were not astronomers, and it took a very unusual, iconoclastic individual, Mr. Rieber, to follow up on this.

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Butler Burton

Jan Oort and the hydrogen line
Butler Burton - NRAO, Green Bank

The astronomer who saw the potential most clearly was Professor Jan Oort in the Netherlands. It was the wartime occupation in the Netherlands gave him plenty of time to think and he set one of his graduate students the task of asking the question, "Would there be a discreet spectral line, a discreet tone coming from space, from a known source?"

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Butler Burton

Locating a radio observatory
Butler Burton - NRAO, Green Bank

When a site is sought for an optical telescope you want a site which is dark. That means far from cities, far from city lights. When a site is sought for a radio telescope you want the sky also to be dark. Darkness in radio terms means free from interference.

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Butler Burton

New frontiers in radio astronomy
Butler Burton - NRAO, Green Bank

Radioastronomy was the opening of a new scientific window. Whenever you open a new window you’re bound to be surprised. It can’t be otherwise. Serendipitous discoveries, surprises, are what happens.

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Butler Burton

Optical versus radio telescopes
Butler Burton - NRAO, Green Bank

An optical telescope has a mirror, which reflects the incoming radiation to focus, which is a camera, an electronic camera. A radio telescope has a parabolic surface which reflects the incoming radio radiation to focus which is collected by a radio camera, a receiver, and it further processes the images from that reception.

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Butler Burton

Collecting radio signals from space
Butler Burton - NRAO, Green Bank

The signals from space enters the Earth’s vicinity and those that are lucky enough to land on the surface of the GBT are reflected up to the focus. At the focus there’s a collection of receivers depending on which wavelength the astronomer wants to observe.

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Butler Burton

Serendipitous radio discoveries
Butler Burton - NRAO, Green Bank

In all branches of science, serendipitous discoveries occur. They can’t be predicted but they have certain things in common, and one is that, like Jansky, the people understand the equipment they’re dealing with and are prepared to accept the unexpected.

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