In summer 2010, during my mini retirement, someone at the Jodcast had the idea to do a road trip of e-MERLIN. e-MERLIN is a network of radio telescopes spread around England and the Welsh borders with the headquarters at Jodrell Bank in Cheshire. The array is 217 km in diameter which would mean hundreds of miles of driving and there was a suggestion to do the whole array in one day. A few of us Jodcasters were up for the challenge and we took along some students from the University of Salford to be the camera crew. In the end we had two cars full of people.
The e-MERLIN network CREDIT: Stuart (yes, really)
The day arrived and we convened in central Manchester outside the Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics bright and early. Well, early if not bright. Here is the result:
Being split between two cars we took along some walkie-talkies so we could stay in touch (yes we had phones but walkie-talkies are more fun) and gave the two cars the call-signs "pulsar" and "quasar". At one point, leaving Defford, we overheard two kids who happened to be on the same channel pretending to be pilots landing a plane. If you were those kids we are sorry that we freaked you out by pretending to be air-traffic control. It was very funny though.
The road trip was a lot of fun but also exhausting - more so for Jen who was driving and presenting. Having used the telescopes it was great to visit them all and it helped me appreciate the size a bit more. Plus, we got to do the science documentary cliché of "going on a journey".