To the Moon and back

I've mentioned it before but this year is the 50th anniversary of the dawn of the space age; the launch of Sputnik and the completion of the 76m (250ft) diameter Lovell Telescope at Jodrell Bank Observatory in Cheshire both occurred in October 1957.

In the middle of June (15-17), Jodrell Bank will be hosting a literary festival to commemorate the first move of the Lovell Telescope under power (it was hand-cranked briefly, earlier in 1957). A literary festival isn't the normal sort of thing you would associate with an astronomical observatory, but it promises to be a good few days. During the weekend three authors will talk about their work: Alan Garner (author of Elidor) will be talking about his sense of time and place on the Friday; Saturday sees a talk by Jeanette Winterson (Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit, Tanglewreck etc); Jed Mercurio (Bodies) will be talking on the Sunday about a fictional account of a Soviet manned mission to the Moon that he is currently writing. Each day there will also be talks by astronomers describing the Universe, how the telescope moves and operates, and Jodrell Bank's involvement in the space race. On Saturday there will even be cream teas served on the lawn. Scones and tea, mmmmm.

The headline grabbing event of the weekend will be a Moon-bounce poem. The Times newspaper are now running a competition to find a poem that will be read out, transmitted by a radio amateur, reflected from the Moon and received by the Lovell Telescope. This is a really interesting idea and creates a new type of poetry. Poems will have to address the theme of Time and Place, be limited to 28 lines (28 coming from the lunar month) and will have to take into account the fact that there will be an echo with a two and a half second delay (the time for radio waves to get to the Moon and back). The judging panel is a varied bunch of poets, astronomers and others and the deadline is 10am, Friday 8th June. Get your thinking caps on.

Posted in astro blog by Stuart on Tuesday 29th May 2007 (20:20 BST) | Permalink
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