Jodrell Bank


Trips & Adventures – 5 September 2019

Jodrell Bank is not easy to get to on public transport … it’s one small step for man, one giant leap for Out In The City!

The Jodrell Bank Observatory hosts a number of radio telescopes, and was established in 1945 by Bernard Lovell, a radio astronomer at the University of Manchester 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 main telescope at the observatory is the Mark I (now known as the Lovell Telescope), which is the third largest steerable radio telescope in the world. There are also three other active telescopes at the observatory.

Since 13 July 1988 the Lovell Telescope has been designated as a Grade I listed building, and on 7 July 2019, the observatory became a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

2019 marks 50 years since humans first set foot on another celestial body. And so, in this, the 50th anniversary year of the historic moon landing, we heard the incredible story of Jodrell Bank’s role in the race to the Moon.


Jodrell Bank has been at the heart of ground-breaking and world-leading science for over 70 years. In the fascinating talk, One Giant Leap, we discovered newly released audio-visual material from the Jodrell Bank archives, featuring aspects of the both the American and Russian Space programmes. We then joined a Telescope Walking Tour. We were very impressed with both presenters.

We particularly enjoyed the Whispering Dishes. When you speak at the focus of one dish, the sound waves spread out from your mouth and reflect off its surface, forming a parallel beam. This beam travels to the other dish where the reverse happens, concentrating the sound again at the focus, so even your whispers can be heard clearly. The Lovell Telescope works in the same way collecting radio waves from outer space.

We learnt that microwaves and mobile telephones can affect the signals … but most importantly we learnt that next time we must take a picnic as the food provided in the café was the worst ever meal we have ever had in our whole lives!

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