Jodrell – a dish best served cold

It’s always a good day out, of course, but it’s a particularly great time to visit Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre in Cheshire at the moment. Crisp weather and few crowds make for a relaxed, unhurried and still relatively socially distanced experience, and the grounds surrounding the radio telescope are also showing off the winners and commended entries into the Astronomy Photographer Of The Year competition.

The path to the stars

The exhibition is part of the general admission, and seeing the incredible astrophotography with one of the icons of the UK’s space industry rotating in the fields nearby adds extra perspective.

The pair of parabolic acoustic Whispering Dishes demonstrates how the shape of the Lovell Telescope works to amplify faint signals

The on-site talk is inclusive to kids and the exhibition section is a happy diversion in itself… but the star of the show is and always will be the Lovell Telescope itself. This landmark can be seen as far away as the Pennines and the Peak District and is a naturalised part of the landscape of the people who live in the Manchester and Cheshire area, but it’s perhaps an unfairly overlooked visitor attraction. If you’ve never been there and you’re a fan of science, science-fiction, astronomy etc, I totally recommend it.

Mind-boggling factoids are sprinkled throughout…

FASCINATING FACT… in a pleasing demonstration of biology and technology working together in harmony, two pairs of peregrine falcons nesting in the support towers protect the telescope from pigeon damage.

The observatory is also creating a First Light Pavilion on site which, when completed in 2022, will tell the story of the observatory and also house a planetarium. And after a two-year hiatus, the beloved bluedot festival returns to the site in 2022, promising the usual eclectic mix of electronic music, comedy, science education and civilised thrillseeking – plus, Sunday night headliner The Björk Orchestra will be turning the 76-metre-wide Lovell Telescope surface will be transformed into a gigantic digital artwork. 

We are the robots

Go – support science, astronomy, education and the future of this now-64-year-old monument to our country’s involvement in space exploration…

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