Jodrell Bank Observatory, the world’s earliest radio astronomy observatory, has been named an Unesco World Heritage Site.
The site in Cheshire, which has been credited with making major contributions to astronomers’ understanding of the solar system, is the 32nd British landmark to make the prestigious list and joins the likes of Stonehenge, the City of Bath and the Giant’s Causeway.
Here are some facts about it.
– Jodrell Bank, part of the University of Manchester, was founded in 1945 and is home to the Lovell Telescope, which surveys radio emissions from other galaxies and investigates meteors.
– The telescope was built by Sir Bernard Lovell and engineer Sir Charles Husband. When it opened in 1957 it was the largest steerable dish radio telescope in the world, with a diameter of 76.2m, or 250ft.
– It was later surpassed in size, first by Green Bank in West Virginia, and then by the Effelsberg 100m Radio Telescope in Germany.
– The Lovell Telescope has contributed to historical moments including tracking both US and Russian spacecraft in 1969 during the space race. It was also the only telescope able to track the carrier rock that launched Sputnik 1, the first artificial Earth satellite from the Soviet Union.
– Sir Bernard, who died in 2012 aged 98, wrote about his work in his book The Story of Jodrell Bank. It covers the period from December 1945, when Jodrell Bank was just a farm, until May 1960 when it became a world-renowned research facility.
Jodrell Bank was proud to send commands to Pioneer V and receive its transmissions. The spacecraft's success led to Lord Nuffield paying off the final 50,000 pounds of debt outstanding from the construction of the Lovell Telescope. https://t.co/VJlxOQsnGZ
— Jodrell Bank (@jodrellbank) June 26, 2019
– Mobile phones are banned near the site and according to the Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre the telescopes are “so powerful they could detect a mobile phone on Mars.”
– Jodrell Bank, which was named Britain’s greatest unsung landmark in a 2006 BBC poll, is the only site that includes evidence of every stage of the post-1945 development of radio astronomy.
– A model of the telescope appears in the Doctor Who episode Logopolis – the last regular outing for the 4th Doctor played by Tom Baker. The Doctor regenerates after falling from the structure.