Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Jodrell Bank

Jodrell Bank Radio Telescope has come a long way from when in 1945 Bernard Lovell  (after his war time work on radar) was researching cosmic waves with an ex-military radar detector unit at the University of Manchester, with difficulty, because there was too much electric interference from the city's trams.  The Botany Department had an outpost at Jodrell Bank so he decamped out here and arrived at a muddy field on the Cheshire plain, expecting to be here for a couple of weeks, but eventually proceeding to build his telescope with used equipment left over from World War II.  He was told by the firms he contacted that what he was proposing was impossible but in 1949 found an ally in a bridge builder, Charles Husband, who said it was difficult but not impossible.
The whole telescope rotates on circular railway tracks, the bowl (which rather excitingly started to move while we were perambulating around it)
is supported on either side by two towers and can be tilted at any angle. The telescope became fully operational in 1957 just in time to follow the launch of the world's first artificial satellite, Sputnik 1, by the Russians.  The bowl is in the shape of a paraboloid and gathers the incoming radio waves from space.  If you can pick out the two small dishes in the gloom at either side of the base of the telescope in the first photograph
Whispering Dish
these are two miniature paraboloid dishes where one can whisper a message to a friend and discover why the shape is so important.   Today Jodrell Bank Telescope has been renamed in honour of Bernard Lovell (1913-2012) which even now, all these years later, is one of the biggest and most powerful radio telescopes in the world and has gone on from work on quasars and pulsars to things not even guessed about back then.  Apart from his contribution to radio astronomy (for which he was knighted in 1961) Lovell was a great communicator and that tradition continues with the  
Discovery Centre, here I am outside the Planet Pavilion which explains the wonders of the universe and the Jodrell Bank telescopes, not to mention interactive objects to while away a gloomy December day. Then to move outside to enjoy one of Bernard Lovell's other interests
trees (I think this one is a Whitebeam). He opened the Arboretum in 1972 and there is a large acreage to wander around containing the national collection of Sorbus and Malus
In 2011 they opened the Galaxy Garden designed by the gardener Chris Beardshaw which tells the story of the formation of the galaxy in seven key stages. The story in plants surrounds a mound inlaid with a chalk motif of the galaxy which can be seen on the gate notice above.  Wondering why I did not get up close and personal?

Inappropriate footwear in one of the wettest winters on record
Here is the Birth of the Planets, the grass is clumps of dust particles starting to gather together.  You will just have to imagine the flowering perennials representing the protoplanets clashing together.  We all agreed that a return in the Spring would be a more interesting time and also the apple trees would be in blossom
so enjoyed a few surprises, the trees and of course
the radio telescope.

An entry to ABC Wednesday, a journey through the alphabet, this week sojourning at J here


carol l mckenna said...

What a fascinating and informative post ~ and great photos!

Happy Week to you ~ ^_^

Shooting Parrots said...

Great post Joy. I'm ashamed to say that I've never visited Jodrell Bank even though it is less than an hour's drive from where I live. Doubly so since it is where my cousin trained as an astronomer. Thanks for reminding me to put it on my list of things to see and do!

Rajesh said...

Very lovely place with such wonderful dishes.

Melody Steenkamp said...

Fascinating are they, don't you think? Not to far from were i live these things stand in a field too

Wonderful photos'

Have a nice ABC-Wedneday-day / – week
♫ M e l ☺ d y ♫ (abc-w-team)

Reader Wil said...

I am impressed when I see those gigantic telescopes. In my country we have a big one in Drenthe not far from Melody's home.
Have a great week.
Wil, ABCW Team.

Anonymous said...

Huge construction! But I like it that they have surrounded it with people-friendly things like trees and birds:) And the sign made me chuckle:)

Also, Joy, I finished the painting finally of the photo you let me use, it's going to be in one of the next weeks, but I'll alert you to when I post it:)

Roger Owen Green said...

SCIENCE! love it.


Su-sieee! Mac said...

Thank goodness for people like Lovell and Husband who are determined to plug through the "difficult but not impossible".