Jodrell Bank named a UNESCO World Heritage Site

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Jodrell Bank
Mark II and Lovell Telescopes (Image: Ian Morison)

Jodrell Bank Observatory in Cheshire has been named as the UK’s newest UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The observatory becomes the UK’s 32nd site to be added to the prestigious list, which includes Stonehenge, The Great Wall of China, the Sydney Opera House and the Acropolis.

Jodrell Bank, owned by the University of Manchester, is famous as the home of the Lovell Telescope, the world’s third largest steerable radio telescope. Completed in 1957, the dish was the largest of its kind anywhere in the world until 1973 and was the catalyst for the construction of many other large scale satellite dishes.

The Lovell Telescope’s first act was to track the Soviet Union’s Sputnik, the world’s first artificial satellite. Today, Jodrell operates the UK’s national e-MERLIN radio telescope and hosts the global headquarters of the Square Kilometre Array, a radio telescope project that will build the world’s largest telescope, comprised of a network of instruments sited in South Africa and Australia.

The addition of Jodrell Bank to the UNESCO World Heritage List is in recognition of its outstanding scientific heritage, its work in tracking spacecraft in the early space race, and its research into quasars, pulsars and gravitational lenses. The site has evidence of every stage of the history of radio astronomy, from its emergence as a new science in the 1940s through to the present day.

Teresa Anderson, Director of Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre said: “This is wonderful news and a great day in the history of Jodrell Bank. It honours the pioneering work of Sir Bernard Lovell and the early scientists here, together with the world-leading research that continues to this day.

“Receiving this recognition will help us tell their story and the story of the communities connected to the site both across the UK and worldwide.”

Professor Michael Garrett, Director of the Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics and Sir Bernard Lovell Chair of Astrophysics, has said: “We’re very proud that the contribution of the Observatory and its staff, have been recognized at the very highest level.

“We continue to explore the Universe with e-MERLIN and our participation in the European VLBI Network, and we look forward to playing a major role in the scientific exploitation of the Square Kilometre Array.”

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