Lovell TelescopeJodrell Bank


The Lovell telescope at Jodrell Bank

Jodrell Bank observatory was established in 1945 by the University of Manchester. The driving force behind the establishment of Jodrell Bank was a young scientist named Bernard Lovell. Lovell had worked on radar during the war, and had moved to Manchester University to apply experience gained through his war work to the study of cosmic rays. To avoid background interference caused by the busy city of Manchester, Lovell established an observatory twenty miles south of the city at a botanic studies outpost owned by the university.

A huge radio telescope - the Lovell Telescope - was then built, completed in 1957, the biggest radio telescope in the world at that time. This device has the capacity to study radiation far beyond the visible light spectrum which we can see with our eyes. Jodrell Bank can detect the oldest radiation of all, microwave radiation, the cooled remnant of light from the Big Bang itself.

But Jodrell Bank isn't just about contemplation of the universe. The observatory also has a history that is rooted in the mundane business of down to Earth power struggles. Fittingly the huge bearings supporting each side of the massive 250 foot diameter dish of the Lovell Telescope are actually reused gun mountings from two retired British battleships, HMS Revenge and HMS Royal Sovereign. The telescope, supported by these former battleship gun turret mechanisms, played an important role in the Cold War, tracking Soviet Satellites. When the Soviet Union lauched Sputnik in 1957, Jodrell Bank was the only facility in the West with the capability to track Sputnik's booster rocket. As a result it seems that the Soviets actually tried to assassinate Lovell during the Cold War period, at the Deep Space Communication Centre in Berlin.

Jodrell Bank today continues its work in many areas of astronomy, and has an excellent visitors centre.


Address: The University of Manchester, Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre, Macclesfield, Cheshire, SK11 9DL. Sat Nav use SKL11 9DW.

Directions: Jodrell Bank Visitors Centre is just off the A535 between Holmes Chapel and Alderly Edge, six miles from junction 18 of the M6. Click for an interactive map centred on Jodrell Bank.

Opening Times: Please use contact details below.

Access: Buildings and carpark are fully accessible for visitors in wheelchairs. Adapted toilet faciltiers are provided. Gardens have fully accessible pathways. Assistance dogs are welcome.


telephone: 01477 571 766


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