The high-speed radiation thermometer has an infrared measurement wavelength band that is matched to the infrared wavelength band of near-blackbody emittance of ceramic components and ceramic thermal barrier coatings used in turbine engines. It is comprised of a long wavelength infrared detector, a signal amplifier, an analog-to-digital converter, an optical system to collect radiation from the target, an optical filter, and an integral reference signal to maintain a calibrated response. A megahertz range electronic data acquisition system is connected to the radiation detector to operate on raw data obtained. Because the thermometer operates optimally at 8 to 12 .mu.m, where emittance is near-blackbody for ceramics, interferences to measurements performed in turbine engines are minimized. The method and apparatus are optimized to enable mapping of surface temperatures on fast moving ceramic elements, and the thermometer can provide microsecond response, with inherent self-diagnostic and calibration-correction features.