Last updated on April 21, 2014 at 8:43 EDT

Jodrell Bank Observatory

Jodrell Bank Observatory — The Jodrell Bank Observatory, near Macclesfield, Cheshire in the north west of England is a part of the University of Manchester.

It has played an important part in the research into quasars and pulsars, as well as the first detection of a gravitational lens in 1979, confirming one of Einstein’s theories.

It was established in 1945 by Dr. Bernard Lovell, who wanted to investigate cosmic rays after his work on radar in World War II.

The first radio telescope was built in 1947, but the famous “Mark I” telescope, at the time the largest steerable dish radio telescope in the world, 76.2 metres (250 feet) in diameter, was constructed in the mid 1950s, becoming operational in the summer of 1957, just in time for the launch of Sputnik 1, the world’s first artificial satellite.

Jodrell Bank was the only installation in the world able to track Sputnik’s booster rocket by radar, and the fame and income this brought in enabled the considerable construction debts to be paid off.

The telescope has been updated twice, to allow greater sensitivity and make structural repairs, in 1970-71 and 2001-2003. In 1987, on its 30th anniversary, the telescope was renamed the Lovell Telescope in Sir Bernard’s honour.

A second radio telescope, the Mark II, was built at Jodrell Bank in 1964, with a diameter of approximately 25 metres (it’s parabolic, not circular), while a third telescope, the Mark III, located some 20 miles away near Nantwich is part of the Jodrell Bank Observatory.

Statistics of the Mark I telescope


– Latitude 53 deg 14 min 13.2 sec north
– Longitude 0 deg 9 min 14.04 sec west
– Mass of telescope: 3200 tonnes
– Mass of bowl: 1500 tonnes
– Diameter of bowl: 76.2 metres
– Surface area of bowl: 5270 square metres
– Collecting area of bowl: 4560 square meters
– Height of elevation axis: 50.5 metres
– Maximum height above ground: 89.0 metres
– Radius of wheel girders: 38.5 metres
– Outer diameter of railway track: 107.5 metres
– Amount of paint for 3 coats of the bowl: 5200 litres


Jodrell Bank Observatory

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Jodrell Bank Observatory