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Grote Reber

Armour Institute 1933

Grote Reber

Pioneer radio astronomer and engineer, Grote Reber is recognized in the National Air and Space Museum as a founding father of radio astronomy. When he was just 16-years-old he received an amateur radio license for a station he built and operated. In the years after graduating from IIT he worked at several radio manufacturers while probing the sky at night. In 1937, at age 22, he constructed the world’s first telescope designed specifically for radio astronomical observations of space in his backyard in Wheaton, Ill.

In the years from 1938 to 1943 he made the first surveys of radio waves from the sky and published his results in both engineering and astronomy journals; in 1944 he published the first maps of the radio sky. His accomplishments insured that radio astronomy became a major field of research following World War II. Research groups in many countries began building bigger and better antennas and receivers to follow up on Reber’s discoveries.

With a vision to create an even bigger radio telescope minimally affected by refraction in the ionosphere and other interference, Reber left the United States for the clearer skies of Tasmania. From 1954–1974 he assembled a series of telescopic arrays to study galactic and solar radio emissions at even longer wavelengths.

Reber donated his first telescope to National Radio Astronomy Observatory at Green Bank, W.Va., and supervised its assembly there in the early 1960s. It remains there as a historical monument. An asteroid (6886 Grote), The Reber Medal (administered by the Queen Victoria Museum in Tasmania), and the Grote Reber Museum at the Mt. Pleasant Radio Telescope Observatory (Tasmania) are named for him.

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