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)
This facility is home to one of the world's largest radio telescopes.
A Russian probe sends back the first pictures taken from the Moon's surface.
Luna 9, the first Moon probe to achieve a soft landing and send back photos of the lunar surface, caught the West by surprise in 1966. The Russian spacecraft's data transmissions were intercepted by Jodrell Bank Observatory, and the pictures were published in a British newspaper before they were published in Russia.
The Russians crash-land the first Moon probe.
On 13 September 1959, the Russians triumphed with Luna 2 (also known as Lunik 2), the first Moon probe, which was intentionally crashed into the lunar surface. The mission was tracked from Jodrell Bank in the UK.
Patrick Moore explains the basics of radio astronomy.
Sir Patrick Moore explains the basics of radio astronomy while on a visit to Jodrell Bank Observatory.
Patrick Moore finds out how galaxies bend light.
Sir Patrick Moore finds out how one galaxy can bend the light of another while on a visit to Jodrell Bank Observatory.
Patrick Moore listens to pulsars at Jodrell Bank.
Sir Patrick Moore listens to pulsars at Jodrell Bank Observatory.
The Jodrell Bank Observatory (originally the Jodrell Bank Experimental Station, then the Nuffield Radio Astronomy Laboratories from 1966 to 1999; /ˈdʒɒdrəl/) 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. An excellent view of the telescope can be seen by travelling by train, as the main line between Manchester and Crewe passes right by the site, with Goostrey station being only a short distance away.