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Radio Astronomy Practicals, Projects and Courses

Undergraduate Astronomy Courses

Astronomy is taught as a three year undergraduate course at the University of Cape Town (UCT). From 2009 UCT is offering an undergraduate course in astro-technology. Astronomy can studied by distance learning through UNISA. Many astronomers start by majoring in physics as part of a BSc degree, specialising in astronomy at post-graduate level. For example, the undergraduate physics with electronics course run by Rhodes University has produced many radio astronomers.

Radio Astronomy Practicals

Practicals are carried out at Hartebeesthoek by physics students at third and fourth year level from a number of South African universities. The practicals are tailored to the requirements of the group. The content includes hands-on work with microwave equipment, theory of radio astronomy and observations with the radio telescope. Practicals can range from one day to one week in duration. Universities that have participated include Venda, UNISA, NorthWest University, Rhodes, University of Johannesburg, Wits and the NASSP consortium, currently hosted by UCT.

Radio Astronomy Projects for Honours, Masters and PhD Students

Projects in radio astronomy are available for students from undergraduate level up to PhD level. Usually a staff member of HartRAO acts as supervisor or a co-supervisor. A range of topics are available for projects in radio astronomy.

Further details of the types of research being done at HartRAO may be found in the pages on spectroscopy, continuum radiometry, pulsar timing, VLBI and space geodesy . Note that VLBI projects would only be available at Masters or Doctoral level as they require the use of international arrays of radio telescopes.

HartRAO normally provides financial support for MSc and PhD students who will be based at the Observatory.

Postgraduate Courses in Radio Astronomy

An Honours, Masters and PhD programme in Astrophysics and Space Science is being run by a consortium of South African Universities and National Research Facilities. This is currently hosted at the University of Cape Town. For more information see the National Astronomy and Space Science Programme. HartRAO contributes to the funding for this programme, which includes courses on radio astronomy and related fields, and practical work at HartRAO.

In addition, courses or research opportunities in radio astronomy are offered at Honours level and beyond at:

Arrangements have been made with some universities that do not offer astronomy courses to credit courses done through UNISA. The student will be awarded the appropriate credits from his or her home institute.

Karoo Array Telescope Bursaries

The Karoo Array Telescope (KAT) team are offering bursaries in a range of scientific and engineering disciplines. This poster provides information about KAT and the forthcoming Square Kilometre Array (SKA), and career opportunities in radio astronomical and allied engineering disciplines.


Information about getting to HartRAO
Accommodation at HartRAO


Radio Astronomy Practical for NASSP and RU students, 2006
Radio Astronomy practical for NASSP, RU and UCT students, 2005
RAU students at HartRAO, 2004
North-West University students at HartRAO, 2004
First NASSP student practical, 2003

On the telescope
Students from the University of the Free State examine the telescope, 2002 September
Microwave Lab
RAU students use a hot/cold load cooled with liquid nitrogen to measure the temperature
of a microwave amplifier as Dr. Chris Engelbrecht watches, 2002 April
Potch students RAU students
Potchefstroom University physics students with
the partially resurfaced telescope, 2002 Jan.
Students from Rand Afrikaans University in Johannesburg
during their Physics practical, 2002 April
Rhodes students Vista students
Physics students from Rhodes University
in Grahamstown, with Prof. Jonas (r)
Physics students from Vista University in
Soweto climbing the telescope

For more information e-mail info@hartrao.ac.za