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Biographical entry Reber, Grote (1911 - 2002)

Born
22 December 1911
Wheaton, Illinois, United States of America
Died
20 December 2002
Ouse, Tasmania, Australia
Occupation
Radio astronomer

Summary

Grote Reber graduated in electrical engineering in 1933 and for the next 14 years worked for various radio manufacturers in Chicago, U.S.A. In 1936 he decided to investigate 'cosmic static'. To do so he built a 9.6-metre parabolic dish in his backyard, the second radio antenna ever to be used for astronomical purposes and the first parabolic reflecting antenna to be used as a radio telescope. For nearly a decade he was the world's only radio astronomer. Reber's discoveries, while initially met with scepticism, led to the post-war development of radio astronomy. In 1954, he moved to Tasmania to pursue radio astronomy at the much lower frequencies that might penetrate the ionosphere during solar minimum. He built a telescope in the form of an array of dipoles, antennae strung between the tops of poles and covering an area of one square kilometre. Reber published on cosmic rays, radio circuitry, ionospheric physics, and carbon dating of aboriginal campfire sites. In 2008 the Grote Reber Museum at the Mount Pleasant Radio Observatory was opened in Cambridge, Tasmania. The asteroid 6886 Grote was named in his honour.

Details

Events

1933
Education - BSc, Armour Institute of Technology (later the Illinois Institute of Technology)
1954
Life event - Moved to Tasmania
1962
Award - Catherine Wolfe Bruce Gold Medal, Astronomical Society of the Pacific
1962
Award - Hon. DSc, University of Ohio
1963
Award - Elliott Cresson Medal, Franklin Institute
1983
Award - Jackson-Gwilt Medal, Royal Astronomical Society

Published resources

Book Sections

  • Kellermann, K., 'Grote Reber (1911-2002): a radio astronomy pioneer', in Orchiston, W. (ed.), The new astronomy: opening the electromagnetic window and expanding our view of planet Earth. A meeting to honor Woody Sullivan on his 60th birthday, Springer, Dordrecht, 2005, pp. 43-70. Details

Journal Articles

  • George, Martin, Orchiston, Wayne, Slee, Bruce and Wielebinski, Richard, 'The history of early low frequency radio astronomy in Australia, 3: Ellis, Reber and the Cambridge Field Station near Hobart', Journal of Astronomical History and Heritage, vol. 18, no. 2, 2015, pp. 177-89. Details
  • George, Martin, Orchiston, Wayne, Slee, Bruce and Wielebinski, Richard, 'The history of early low frequency radio astronomy in Australia, 2: Tasmania', Journal of Astronomical History and Heritage, vol. 18, no. 1, 2015, pp. 14-22. Details
  • Kraus, J. D., 'Grote Reber - founder of radio astronomy', Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, vol. 82, no. 3, 1988, pp. 107-14. Details

Helen Cohn