Public University of Navarre

Academic year: 2023/2024
Bachelor's degree in Telecommunications Engineering at the Universidad Pública de Navarra
Course code: 243721 Subject title: RADIOASTRONOMY
Credits: 3 Type of subject: Optative Year: 4 Period: 2º S
Department: Ingeniería Eléctrica, Electrónica y de Comunicación
RUIZ FELIU, RAFAEL   [Mentoring ] TENIENTE VALLINAS, JORGE (Resp)   [Mentoring ]

Partes de este texto:


Module/Subject matter

International Project Semester (IPS)



This course consists of a series of seminars related to radioastronomy where the students learn, from the bases of astronomy and antennas to more relevant studies related with the Jocelyn Bell¿s radiotelescope from UPNA and the new challenges arising from the interest in the space observation.


General proficiencies

G2. Teamwork.

G3. Autonomous Learning.

G4. Efficiency in oral and written communication with English language skills.

G5. Efficiency in the management of information resources.

G6. Ethical commitment and sustainability.

G7. Ability to conceive, design, implement and operate systems and services in the field of ICT.

CB2. Ensure that students possess the necessary skills to effectively apply their knowledge to their work or chosen profession, demonstrating proficiency in constructing and presenting arguments and resolving problems within their field of study.

CB3. Foster the ability of students to gather and analyze pertinent data within their field of study, enabling them to make informed judgments that encompass social, scientific, or ethical considerations.

CB4. Cultivate students' capacity to effectively communicate information, ideas, problems, and solutions to both specialized and non-specialized audiences.

CB5. Equip students with the essential learning skills required to pursue further studies with a high level of autonomy.


Specific proficiencies

E1. Demonstrate an understanding of the significance of radio astronomy observations in the advancement of our contemporary society.

E2. Possess the skills to design, operate, and oversee basic radio astronomy systems tailored for celestial observations.

E3. Exhibit the capability to choose components, subsystems, and materials with specific properties for the construction and enhancement of radio astronomy equipment.


Learning outcomes

Upon completion of the training, the student will be able to:

R1. Comprehend the fundamental principles of astronomy, including the origins and characteristics of cosmic radio emissions.

R2. Demonstrate a clear understanding of celestial coordinate systems utilized in radio astronomy observations.

R3. Recognize and evaluate the significant factors affecting radiowave propagation in the Earth's atmosphere pertaining to radio astronomy observations.

R4. Gain a comprehensive understanding of the characteristics of received radio signals in radio astronomy and develop proficiency in their identification.

R5. Describe and elucidate the purpose and key parameters of essential components and subsystems within radio astronomy systems.

R6. Acquire a solid foundation in the operation of radiotelescopes.

R7. Effectively navigate manuals, specifications, and both printed and online resources related to components, equipment, and systems. Retrieve information from diverse sources.

R8. Collaborate efficiently within a group, comprehending the group's objectives, planning tasks to achieve them, and assuming responsibility and commitment for assigned roles.

R9. Utilize available resources and services for conducting basic information searches. Organize and synthesize collected information, while demonstrating respect for intellectual property and appropriately citing sources.

R10. Strategically plan recommended tasks in accordance with provided guidelines and allocated time. Evaluate the degree of achievement in learning objectives and identify potential challenges in educational progress.

R11. Formulate and solve problems based on open-ended situations with incomplete requirements.



Expositive/participative classes will be more participative than expositive.

Methodology / Activity Attendance Hours Non-attendance Hours
A-1 Expositive / participative classes 30
A-2 Practices 9  
A-3 Discussion, groupings, tutoring groups 2  
A-4 Material readings 2 5
A-5 Individual study   18
A-6 Individual tutorials 2  
Total 45 30
Total 75




The subject is taught in the English language. All the materials utilized, including theory presentations, practice scripts, software used in practical exercises, and references, are in English.




Weight (%) It allows
test resit
required grade
R1, R2, R3, R4, R5, R6, R7, R8, R9, R10, R11 Teachers¿ record during the classes and experimental practices. 100 %. In order to pass the course, it is essential to have attended 80% of the classes and develop active behaviour during theoretical and laboratory classes. Yes. Extraordinary written exam. 5 points over 10.





Chapter 0. Introduction to the course on radio astronomy.

0.1. Professors introduction.

0.2. Subject introduction.

0.2.1. General objectives of the subject.

0.2.2. Agenda.

0.2.3. Subject planning.

0.2.4. Evaluation criteria.

0.2.5. Bibliography.


Chapter 1. Introduction to astronomy and radio astronomy.

1.1. What is astronomy? Brief account of the different branches of astronomy.

2.2. What is radio astronomy? A short history of radio astronomy.


Chapter 2. Origin and nature of cosmic radio emissions.

2.1. Solar system objects.

2.2. Stars and supernovae.

2.3. Galaxies.

2.4. Galactic radiation.

2.5. Interstellar medium.

2.6. Pulsars.

2.7. Planetary nebulae.

2.8. Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI).


Chapter 3. Astronomical coordinates.

3.1. Celestial sphere and basic celestial coordinates.

3.2. Spherical trigonometry, solution of spherical triangles and applications.


3.3. Astronomical conventions. Sidereal and Solar times. Definition of years. Julian dates.


Chapter 4. Radio wave propagation

4.1. The radioelectric spectrum and its relationship with the propagation in the Earth¿s atmosphere.

4.2. Troposphere influence on propagation. Refractive index.

4.3. Attenuation and other effects of propagation in the atmosphere.

4.4. Faraday rotation.

4.5. Scintillation.


Chapter 5. The nature of the received radio signal.

5.1. Gaussian random noise.

5.2. Brightness temperature.

5.2.1. Brightness temperatures of astronomical sources.

5.3. Antenna noise temperature.

5.3.1. Adding noise powers.

5.3.2. Sources of antenna noise.

5.3.3. Measuring the antenna temperature.

5.3. Power, power spectral density, brightness and intensity.


Chapter 6. Radiometers.

6.1. The basic radiometer.

6.1.1. Impedance matching and power transfer.

6.1.2. Power amplification.

6.1.3. Bandwidth and coherence.

6.2. Detection and integration.

6.4. System noise temperature.

6.4.1. Receiver temperature.

6.4.2. Receivers for millimetre and sub-millimetre Waves.

6.5. Calibration of the system noise.

6.5.1. Receiver noise calibration.

6.5.2. Secondary methods.

6.5.3. Relative and absolute calibration.

6.6. Heterodyne receivers.

6.7. Tracing noise power through a receiver.


Chapter 7. Radio telescopes and aperture synthesis.

7.1. Fundamentals of horn antennas.

7.2. Phased arrays of elementary antennas.

7.3. Antenna beams.

7.3.1. Aperture distributions and beam patterns.

7.3.2. Fraunhofer diffraction at an aperture.

7.3.3. Effective area.

7.4. Steerable telescopes.

7.5. Feed systems.

7.6. Focal plane arrays and phased array feeds.

7.7. Antenna efficiency.

7.7.1. Aperture illumination.

7.7.2. Blockage of the aperture.

7.7.3. Reflection at the surface.

7.8. The response to a sky brightness distribution.

7.8.1. Beam smoothing and convolution.

7.8.2. Sampling in angle.

7.8.3. Effects of sidelobes.

7.8.4. Pointing accuracy.


Experimental practice program

Practice 1. Observation with naked eyes: planispheres, astronomy applications in smartphones and computers and optical telescopes.


Practice 2. Antenna noise temperature (TA) and gain over system temperature (G/TSYS) calculations for radio telescope antennas.


Practice 3. Construction of radio telescopes in HF, VHF and Ku bands.


Practice 4. Radio Jove. Observe and analyze natural radio emissions of Jupiter, the Sun, and our galaxy.



Access the bibliography that your professor has requested from the Library.

1. C. Barbieri and I. Bertini. ¿Fundamentals of Astronomy¿, CRC Press, 2nd. Edition, 2020.

2. S. Arnold, ¿Radio and Radar Astronomy Projects for Beginners¿, the Patrick Moore Practical Astronomy Series, 2021.

3. B. F. Burke, F. Graham-Smith and P. N. Wilkinson, ¿An Introduction to Radio Astronomy¿, Cambridge University Press, 4th edition, 2019.

4. J. D. Kraus, ¿Radio Astronomy¿, McGraw Hill, 2nd Edition.



The theoretical and the problem resolution classes will be taught in the assigned classroom.

The practices will be taught in the "Luis Mercader" Laboratory of Antennas and Microwaves.