Development of laboratories for teaching chemical principles using radio astronomy

De Wayne T. Halfen, Aldo J. Apponi, Lucy M. Ziurys

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

1 Scopus citations


Experimental exercises have been developed for undergraduate and graduate chemistry, astronomy, biology, and biochemistry students to teach basic principles in physical chemistry using the interstellar medium as the laboratory. Employing a radio telescope, in this case the Arizona Radio Observatory (ARO) 12m antenna, the physical and chemical properties of interstellar gas are investigated by measuring spectra of molecules such as HCO+, HCN, HC3N, CH3CN, and SiO in astronomical sources. For example, laboratory exercises have been created for graduate students with life sciences backgrounds that investigate the nature of organic chemistry in interstellar clouds. Additional laboratories are being developed to teach astronomy graduate and undergraduate students about practical aspects of molecular astrophysics and spectroscopy. Basic chemical principles are thus illustrated through an interesting, non-traditional approach.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationChemical Evolution Across Space and Time
Subtitle of host publicationFrom the Big Bang to Prebiotic Chemistry
PublisherAmerican Chemical Society
Number of pages15
ISBN (Print)9780841274310
StatePublished - Feb 15 2008

Publication series

NameACS Symposium Series
ISSN (Print)0097-6156
ISSN (Electronic)1947-5918

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Chemical Engineering(all)


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