Jodrell Bank Observatory

Jodrell Bank Observatory

Jodrell Bank Observatory

Completed in 1957, just in time to track the launch of Sputnik 1, the Lovell Telescope at Jodrell Bank in Cheshire, England, remains one of the world's largest steerable radio telescopes. It is part of a UK network of radio telescopes called eMERLIN.

Though it played an important part in the Space Race, the main use of the telescope is to study the Universe's radio emissions. Visible light is just part of the electromagnetic spectrum of interest to astronomers studying objects like quasars and pulsars – other invisible types of 'light' such as radio waves help them build up a much more complete understanding of the Universe.

Image: Jodrell Bank Observatory (credit: Mike Peel, Jodrell Bank)

Watch and listen to clips from past programmes TV clips [6]

Jodrell Bank Observatory


This facility is home to one of the world's largest radio telescopes.

About Jodrell Bank Observatory

The Jodrell Bank Observatory (originally the Jodrell Bank Experimental Station, then the Nuffield Radio Astronomy Laboratories from 1966 to 1999; /ˈɒdrəl/) is a British observatory that hosts a number of radio telescopes, and is part of the Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics at the University of Manchester. The observatory was established in 1945 by Sir Bernard Lovell, a radio astronomer at the University of Manchester who wanted to investigate cosmic rays after his work on radar during the Second World War. It has since played an important role in the research of meteors, quasars, pulsars, masers and gravitational lenses, and was heavily involved with the tracking of space probes at the start of the Space Age. The managing director of the observatory is Professor Simon Garrington.

The main telescope at the observatory is the Lovell Telescope, which is the third largest steerable radio telescope in the world. There are three other active telescopes located at the observatory; the Mark II, as well as 42 ft (13 m) and 7 m diameter radio telescopes. Jodrell Bank Observatory is also the base of the Multi-Element Radio Linked Interferometer Network (MERLIN), a National Facility run by the University of Manchester on behalf of the Science and Technology Facilities Council.

The site of the observatory, which includes the Jodrell Bank Visitor Centre and an arboretum, is located in the civil parish of Lower Withington (the rest being in Goostrey civil parish), near Goostrey and Holmes Chapel, Cheshire, North West England. It is reached from the A535. The telescope can be seen by travelling by train, as the Crewe to Manchester Line passes right by the site, with Goostrey station a short distance away.

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