US radio engineer who pioneered
radio astronomy. He attempted to map all the extraterrestrial sources
of radio emission that could be traced.
Reber was born in Wheaton, Illinois, and studied at the Illinois Institute
of Technology. He built his own apparatus for studying cosmic radio
waves, and held posts at several US institutions. From 1954 he worked
mainly in Australia at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research
Organization in Tasmania, though he spent 1957-61 at the National Radio
Astronomy Observatory at Green Back, West Virginia.
Reber's first instrument was a bowl-shaped reflector 9 m/30 ft in diameter,
with an antenna at its focus, built in the back garden of his Illinois
home in 1957. For a number of years, Reber's was probably the only radio
telescope in existence. With it, he could identify only a general direction
from which radio waves were coming. The most intense radiation he recorded
emanated from the direction of Sagittarius, near the centre of the Galaxy.
In Hawaii a new radio telescope was constructed, sensitive to lower
frequencies, and he worked there 1951-54. His last project, in Tasmania,
was to complete a map of radio sources emitting waves around 144 m/473
ft in length.