Jodrell at Sixty

Yesterday was the sixtieth anniversary of Sir Bernard Lovell's very first observations at what became Jodrell Bank Observatory. Jodrell Bank is in the Cheshire countryside and was (and still is) the site of the University of Manchester's botanical grounds. On 15th December 1945 Sir Bernard made use of the botany huts and some radar equipment left over from the second world war to listen to echos from the Geminid meteor shower.

Over the following years the observatory grew up with various small dishes and in 1947 the 66 metre diameter transit telescope was built. This was the biggest radio telescope in the world at the time and basically consisted of lots of wires strung from a huge pole. Through the early 1950s Sir Bernard planned a 76m fully steerable telescope and this was finally completed in 1957 just as the space age began with the launch of Sputnik 1. At that time it was the largest fully-steerable radio telescope in the world and the only place that could track the carrier rocket of Sputnik.

Today, the Lovell telescope is still going strong. In fact it is better than ever following the surface upgrade of a few years ago. It is still the third largest steerable radio telescope in the world.

Posted in astro blog by Stuart on Friday 16th Dec 2005 (19:27 UTC) | Permalink
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