Pride of the North: the Jodrell Bank Lovell Radio Telescope

The non amateur stuff. Hawking, black holes, that sort of thing

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brian livesey
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Joined: Mon Jan 09, 2006 11:05 am
Location: Lancashire

Pride of the North: the Jodrell Bank Lovell Radio Telescope

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The Lovell Radio Telescope, now the centrepiece of a Unesco World Heritage Site, must surely have been the biggest DIY job in the history of modern astronomy. It's instigator, Bernard Lovell, had the instrument cobbled together from all sorts of bits and pieces, including massive parts from a scrapped warship. The aim was to keep the cost of construction as low as possible. Lovell chipped in with some of his own money and almost bankrupted himself, but the main cost of construction was borne by the University of Manchester.
When it first came into service in the 1950s, the great dish was the biggest steerable radio telescope in the world, and it still holds third place. The telescope became a media sensation when it tracked Sputnik 1 with radar. It was the only instrument capable of doing this at that time. This was followed by capturing Soviet images of the Moon's surface. The images appeared in the British press before they reached the Russian press, much to the annoyance of the latter.
Supernovae, pulsars, quasars, black holes and other cosmic exotica are still the radio telescope's main objects of attention. The search for ET signals also has a place.
The Jodrell Bank Observatory is the headquarters for the e-Merlin project. This consists of seven radio telescopes across the country that are digitally linked to perform as one giant radio dish. Jodrell will also be the HQ for the SKA network, connecting thousands of telescopes across the globe: ... telescope/ .

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