The Lovell Radio Telescope located at the Jodrell Bank Observatory in Cheshire, England is 20 miles south from the great northern city of Manchester, from where it is run by the University of Manchester's Astro-Physics Department.
This is a fascinating structure, amazing by its size and impact on the landscape. A virtual piece of modern art, a complex sculpture rivalling anything one might see in the Tate Gallery.
The radio telescope was named after Sir Bernard Lovell who was the main force behind the project which he started just after the Second World War. The war created many advances in radar techonlogy and this knowledge enabled Sir Bernard to take a foray into studying the radio wave universe. He was not the first to make a Radio Telescope, that honour goes to Karl Guthe Jansky in 1931, but he was certainly part of the scientific community that helped to develop its full potential.
The telescope has been responsible for many areas of research from tracking the Russian Spudnick, to the study of Quasers, Masers, gravitional lenses and not a little Eepionage involving the Cold War.
I can't pretend to know much about Radio Astronomy, except to say that the bowl, or is it a dish ? is there to collect and concentrate radio waves emitting from the vast universe out there. I have put some links at the bottom of the page so you can find out more if you wish. Most of the notes to the photos below are attributed to these links.
If you get the time make sure you make a visit to the Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre, you won't be disappointed.
Here is the telescope looking nearly face on, the dish has a parabolic surface and is 250ft wide (76.2m), with a surface area of 1.3 acres or 5270 sq metres. It was the biggest steerable telescope in the world when it was first became operational in 1957, it is now the 3rd biggest, which is not bad for a time span of 55 years. Behind the main surface of the modern dish is another older dish which was replaced because it was deteriorating and a newer surface would be much more precise for observations.
Statue dedicated to Copernicus can be seen within close sight of the telescop, born in 1473, he was the first to observe that the Earth was not the centre of universe and that our planet actually revolved around the sun. Because of his more rigorous investigations he is considered one of the founders of modern astronomy.
The parabolic dish bounces all the radio waves coming in from space and directs them into a central point, the focus cabin, which are then sent down the wire for analysis.
Complexity of the whole telescope can be seen by this side view. The frame is moved on a circular track on bogie wheels, this turns the dish in the azimuth or horizontal. At the top of each support tower are pivots which changes the altitude of the focus cabin enabling it to be pointed in nearly any direction in the sky to receive signals from space. When we visited the telescope, the whole structure could be seen moving around every so often on its tracks and appeared to be directed towards the setting sun.
The focus tower supports the focus cabin
This is one of two support towers that keep the whole structure firmly sticking up in the sky. If you visit the Visitors Centre at Jodrell Bank, in the audio visual section there is a video that takes you for a walk through this structure from the lift on the ground up to the very centre of the dish outside and then back down through the underground service tunnel that leads to the control centre a few hundred yards away.
You might see a bird flying at the base of the tower, there were many angry bird noises and flapping of wings, it seems the local bird population see this structure as an important vantage point having the odd argument over who owned the place.
Magnificent cloud formations filling up the sky, an incidental photo of the telescope as the day draws to an end.
The arboretum and park is located at the back of the telescope and covers 35 acres with over 2500 trees and shrubs, some of national importance. A good place to have a walk after all the higher thinking of contemplating the nature of the universe.
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Useful links >>>> Lovell Radio Telescope
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