What is radio astronomy?


(Narrator) Astronomy means studying
how stars, planets and galaxies work. It’s not astrology, that’s horoscopes
and trying to predict the future. The science of astronomy
started with just our eyes. Then we used telescopes
with glass lenses. And then we learnt how to catch
starlight with giant mirrors. We make pictures with
the light or analyse it to learn about stars
and galaxies. But there’s more to
astronomy than light. As well as visible light,
stars, such as our sun, emit light that’s invisible
to the human eye, infra-red rays for
instance which feel warm while ultraviolet light
can give you sunburn. The sun also puts
out radio waves. Other stars emit
radio waves too. In fact, whole galaxies
glow with radio waves. Radio waves tell us more than
we can learn from light alone. For instance we can see if
galaxies are interacting. We can also spot black holes by the jets of radio emitting
particles they push out. The jets tell us what the black holes
are doing now and their history. We can even see the radio glow
left over from the Big Bang. There are different kinds
of radio telescopes but they all do the same thing, catch radio waves and turn
them into electrical signals. Then the signals are amplified,
processed and analysed. So, when you hear Radio Astronomy
think telescopes not horoscopes. [Music plays]

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