This summer’s bluedot festival falls on the 50th anniversary of the historic 1969 Moon Landing and we’re thrilled to announce the first phase of our mind-blowing Moon-themed line-up!
Taking place 18-21 July 2019our multi award-winning festival will bring a summer of celebrations honouring the moment humankind stepped foot on another celestial body and celebrating Jodrell Bank’s unique role in tracking the Eagle Landeronto the surface of the Moon.
There’s plenty to look forward to with a stellar science line-up including Dr Helen Sharman the UK’s first astronaut and the first woman on the Mir space station; veteran broadcaster and science historian James Burke the BBC’s anchor for the live coverage of the Apollo 11 Moon Landings in 1969; and the UK Space Agency’s human spaceflight expert Libby Jackson. Plus, look out for Dr Katherine Joy, Dr Simeon Barber and broadcaster Dallas Campbell discussing Moon missions and space travel including an in-depth examination of establishing a permanent human presence on the Moon’s surface.
Meanwhile, using audio ‘loops’ created between mission control and the lunar module, fused with signals and recordings generated by Jodrell Bank as it tracked the moon landings, celebrated light artists Illuminos will transform the Lovell Telescope with Lunar Loops Telescope Projection. The festival’s arts and culture programme will also be enriched with bespoke lunar content including Luke Jerram’s Museum of the Moon.
And don’t miss the Moon-dwelling Clangers celebrating their 50th anniversary with a series of talks, and the award-winning Aardman Animations are also marking a milestone birthday with the 30th anniversary of the first Wallace and Gromit film, A Grand Day Out. There will be a special screening of the popular Moon-shot short and an in-conversation with the Aardman team.
We’re thrilled to announce that work on our highly anticipated First Light Project will begin later this month with preparatory landscaping taking place in the gardens of Jodrell Bank.
First Light, which has been generously supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund and DCMS, will be a truly transformational project for the Discovery Centre and will allow us to develop the much-loved site into a world-class visitor attraction.
Alongside an enhanced programme of community engagement and education activities, the project will see the creation of a spectacular new building discreetly nestled in our ecologically-diverse gardens. This new multi-purpose space will help us engage more people with the stories behind Jodrell Bank’s heritage, its pioneering scientific and cultural history, and its global significance in the development of radio astronomy.
After years of hard work, we’re very excited to be able to begin in earnest and we can’t wait inspire even more children, families and visitors with the unique heritage of Jodrell Bank.
The preparatory works required to make way for the development will involve some grounds clearance and tree felling. This will enable a service road to the location of the new building, allowing us to prepare the ground for construction.
We’ve been sure to minimise any impacts of this initial work by creating the new road along a route of an existing clearing. Meanwhile, our Cheshire Orchard will be protected from the construction works, along with the veteran Oak trees which were here long before the Observatory. Our tree collection will remain extensive too, with over 3,000 trees and shrubs, including 200 Champion Trees noted for their local and national importance, being unimpeded.
Further landscaping works beyond this stage will be supported by the planting of replacement trees and wildflowers as part of our commitment to sustainability. We’ll also host a range of volunteer-led activities to restore habitats throughout the grounds, and any chippings and offcuts from felled trees will be recycled across the site.
This important project milestone also kickstarts a new volunteer programme dedicated to supporting the cultivation of Goostrey Gooseberries, helping to revive a long standing tradition in our neighbouring community.
The gardens will be closed until Friday 5th April but after that will remain open as usual, although access to areas where tree felling is ongoing will be restricted. You can find out more about the project, including news and developments here.
Jodrell Bank played a unique role in the historic 1969 Moon landings and 2019 marks 50 years since that momentous occasion when humanity first stepped foot on another celestial body.
In July 1969, the Jodrell Bank Observatory team, led by Director Sir Bernard Lovell, monitored signals from the Apollo 11 Eagle lander carrying legendary astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin. Signals intercepted at Jodrell Bank caught the moment when the Eagle lander touched down on the surface, capturing one of the greatest achievements of mankind.
This year, we’ll be hosting a packed programme of public events and celebrations to mark the momentous anniversary.
Moon Landing 50th will run throughout 2019 and is set to include a wealth of events and activities to engage all our visitors and communities.
Families visiting us in the summer will also be able to get their hands on real pieces of the Moon brought back by Apollo astronauts in Moon rock and meteorites. Meanwhile, we’re looking forward to presenting our first Rocket Lab, a series of hands-on activities all about rocket science! There’s fun for the under 7s too with Tiny Astronauts,a drop-in session for budding young astronauts keen to explore our Solar System!
A special Girls Night Out event will take place in October, welcoming Dr. Katie Joy from the University of Manchester who’ll talk about her work as a planetary scientist with a special focus on the Moon and meteorites.
And finally, groups are also encouraged to take part in the celebrations by booking a special visit to Jodrell Bank to enjoy the brand new groups talk, One Giant Leap. Using archive audio-visual footage, the talk tells the inspirational story of Jodrell Bank and its role in the race to the Moon.
Now, on its 50th anniversary, we’ve been able to release the audio recordings from a Soviet space mission from November 1968, just as the race to the Moon was approaching the finish line.
“Amongst the many interesting documents in the archive, there are a number of audio recordings of the spacecraft signals picked up by the Lovell Telescope during this crucial period of human history.”
On 10th November 1968, the Soviet Union launched Zond 6. Its mission was to loop around the Moon and return to Earth safely. Although there was nobody on board, it was planned as a precursor to a crewed flight around the Moon, racing to beat the American’s Apollo 8 whose launch was scheduled for December 1968.
Throughout the space race, the astronomers at Jodrell Bank, led by Sir Bernard Lovell, had tracked both American and Russian spacecraft. Zond 6 was no different.
In the audio file, which you can listen to below, Sir Bernard narrates the flight of Zond 6, from 13th Nov to 17th November 1968, when the spacecraft returned to Earth.
The recording opens with the beeps of the telemetry being received from the spacecraft followed by Lovell’s unmistakeable voice:
“This is Zond 6. This is the Russian probe Zond 6. November the fourteenth 1968. The time is 01:52 UT. The probe is about one hour’s travel away from the Moon.”
The file also includes a human voice speaking in Russian. A similar voice had been picked up by Jodrell Bank during the flight of Zond 5 in September 1968. It is thought to have been either a recorded message on the spacecraft, broadcast in order to test communications, or personnel on the ground relaying their voices via the spacecraft in training for a future crewed mission.
Tim explained “I’d read about these voices but I’d never actually heard a recording or seen a transcript. I don’t speak Russian, so I asked Kostya, one of my colleagues here in the School of Physics & Astronomy, if he would translate.”
Professor Sir Kostya Novoselov, who shared the Nobel Prize in 2010 with Professor Sir Andre Geim for their work on graphene, was very happy to help. He provided this detailed transcript of what is thought to be simulated instrument readings: “It was definitely a great fun and honour simultaneously to transcribe and translate these records. Touching this great piece of history is thrilling. You almost travel back in time to the era of great space exploration.”
Zond 6 flew around the Moon on 14 November 1968, reaching a closest approach of 2420 km. Unfortunately, during the return to Earth, the spacecraft depressurised, killing the biological specimens on board (thought to be similar to those carried on Zond 5, a payload including tortoises, worms and seeds). Then the parachutes failed and it crash landed, although photographs of the Moon were retrieved from the wreckage.
This and other failures meant the Soviet Union were forced to delay a crewed flight. When Apollo 8 became the first piloted circumlunar mission in December of 1968, that signalled the end of their ambition to send cosmonauts to the Moon.
Tim will be speaking about Jodrell Bank’s role in the race to the moon in his upcoming Lovell Lecture, find out more here.
Thank You Week is back! From 3 – 9 December, we will be taking part in the Heritage Lottery Fund’s #ThanksToYou campaign by offering FREE ADMISSION* to all our visitors who play the National Lottery.
We were recently awarded £12.2m from the Heritage Lottery Fund to develop our ambitious new First Light Project and so this is our chance to say thank you to the National Lottery players that helped to raise those funds.
To claim your free admission ticket
Visit Jodrell Bank any day between Monday 3rd – Sunday 9th December and bring along proof of having played the National Lottery -this can include a recent lottery ticket or a scratch card and it can be either a digital or paper copy, the date of purchase is not relevant. You can bring as many people as you like with one lottery ticket.
You can turn up on the day but we advise booking your free tickets in advance (remember, you still need to bring your lottery ticket with you). To book, simply click here and choose your visiting date. *Please note that car parking charges still apply.
Visitors to the Discovery Centre will notice that the Lovell Telescope is currently undergoing some maintenance work. A number of significant tasks are being undertaken: painting, steelwork repairs at the top of one of the supporting towers, and replacement of the original 1957 surface.
The impressive 76-metre diameter Radio Telescope, named after Sir Bernard Lovell, was a pioneering development in the science of radio astronomy when it was first built over 60 years ago. At the time of its completion in 1957, it was the world’s largest radio telescope and its still the third largest of its kind in the world today. It continues to operate as a cutting-edge research instrument but is also Grade I listed by Historic Englandas a building of exceptional scientific, cultural and historic interest.
In order to remain in good operational order, the telescope must be continuously maintained. Large jobs, like those being undertaken at the moment, are conducted during the summer, when days are longer and the weather is usually better.
In the first major upgrade to the telescope in 1970-71, a new reflecting surface with a shallower curve was added above the original, together with a large new wheel girder system to help support the weight of the bowl. In the early 2000’s, this additional surface was itself replaced with a new galvanised steel surface with a more accurate paraboloidal shape significantly improving the efficiency of the telescope (pictured below).
Throughout these upgrades, the original 1957 surface was left in place as an integral part of the structure providing significant protection from wind and rain to the reverse of the reflecting bowl. It is this surface which is visible from below when the telescope is parked pointing towards the zenith, as it is at the moment.
Despite continual care, the condition of this surface has now deteriorated to the extent that it needs replacement. The work required is significant and is planned to take place over two consecutive summers. It is being conducted by Taziker Industrial who have extensive experience of refurbishment of large steelwork structures, including the Iron Bridge in Shropshire, the Tay Rail Bridge and the Royal Albert Bridge over the River Tamar.
Sections of the original surface will be carefully kept for use in our Heritage Lottery Fund project, First Light, celebrating the history of the Observatory. At the heart of First Light will be a new exhibition featuring these carefully preserved sections of the surface.
Continual maintenance and major tasks like those currently underway are a key part of ensuring the telescope will continue to make fundamental contributions to radio astronomy research over the coming decades.
We are absolutely thrilled to be able to announce today our £20.5m transformative First Light at Jodrell Bank project is set to receive a total of £16.1m from The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). £12.1m of the total is thanks to National Lottery players, with a further £4m coming from the Government.
The project will create a spectacular new building that will promote and celebrate Jodrell Bank’s world-leading place in the history of astronomy, and a pioneering chapter in British scientific and cultural history.
Jodrell Bank Observatory, which is part of The University of Manchester, was founded in 1945. It is the earliest radio astronomy observatory in the world still in existence and was a pioneer of the new science of radio astronomy, which revolutionised our understanding of the universe. In recognition of the international significance of its science heritage, Jodrell Bank was nominated by DCMS for UNESCO World Heritage Site inscription in January 2018.
This game-changing support of National Lottery players will preserve and protect the heritage of the site for future generations and result in a must-see national heritage destination to match the site’s national and international importance. The new facilities will house a stunning new exhibition and engagement space, incorporating the original fabric of the 1957 dish of the telescope, an auditorium devoted to displaying immersive digital presentations, an education hub, and a new café.
At its core the First Light Project is all about connecting the widest range of people with the heritage of science and innovation, and will provide opportunities for people to become more involved in Jodrell Bank through education, group activities, volunteering and engagement.
The project will provide a place of inspiration for young people and their families, showcasing not only the emergence of the new science of radio astronomy, but also the stories of resilience, determination, cooperation and the entrepreneurial spirit that brought it into being.
The project, which will be delivered over the next three years, will create 19 new roles, increase visitor numbers and establish a volunteer programme.
Commenting on the award, Prime Minister Theresa May said: “It’s great to be here at this iconic home of British innovation to personally congratulate the team on this funding award, which will enable Jodrell Bank to continue to inspire scientists in Britain for generations to come.
“We are committed to continuing the proud heritage that Jodrell Bank represents, by making the UK the world’s most innovative economy through our Modern Industrial Strategy. As we stand on the threshold of a technological revolution, we will use science to transform our quality of life.”
Professor Teresa Anderson, Director of Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre, said: ‘’We are thrilled that we have received this generous support thanks to National Lottery players and the DCMS. This funding will transform visitor engagement with the heritage of Jodrell Bank. It will enable us to properly relay, reveal, interpret and explain our story, so that a wider range of people, locally, nationally and worldwide, can understand and appreciate the unique turning point that occurred with the emergence of radio astronomy.
“This major investment acknowledges Jodrell Bank’s unique significance and will ensure that the heritage of the site is protected and conserved according to the standards required of a World Heritage Site, ensuring its care and maintenance for future generations.’’
Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell, President and Vice-Chancellor of The University of Manchester added: ‘‘I am delighted by the announcement of this major funding. It will enable us to share Jodrell Bank’s fantastic stories and amazing feats of UK science and engineering with many thousands of visitors.
“I am particularly pleased that this will provide opportunities for young people to pursue their own paths of interest and to develop the skills needed to become the digital technologists, scientists and artists of the future.”
Ros Kerslake, Chief Executive of the Heritage Lottery Fund, said: “The First Light project has been designed to nurture a new generation of scientists and astronomers and is only possible thanks to National Lottery funding. Jodrell Bank will be a centre for learning, wonder and fun – a place where people of all ages can visit, be inspired and, quite literally, reach for the stars.”
Heritage Minister Michael Ellis said: “Jodrell Bank is a globally important site that has helped to transform our understanding of the Universe. This significant investment from government and National Lottery players will create a world class visitor attraction and help inspire future generations in science and astronomy.”
The Observatory, part of the University of Manchester, is home to the Grade I Listed Lovell Telescope and is a site of global importance in the history of radio astronomy. Founded in 1945, it is the earliest radio astronomy observatory in the world still in existence and pioneered the exploration of the universe using radio waves.
The UK currently has 31 World Heritage Sites, with The Lake District having been inscribed in 2017. In order to be inscribed as a World Heritage Site, nominations must show that they possess Outstanding Universal Value, which transcends borders.
The nomination will now be formally assessed by the International Council of Sites and Monuments before the World Heritage Committee decides whether it will join the likes of The Great Barrier Reef, the Taj Mahal and the Great Wall of China as a designated World Heritage Site.
Jodrell Bank is the only site in the world that includes evidence of every stage of the post-1945 development of radio astronomy. As well as the Lovell Telescope, it also includes the Grade I Listed Mark II Telescope and the Park Royal building, which was the control room for the Transit Telescope, whose detection of radio waves from the Andromeda Galaxy confirmed that the Universe extends beyond our own galaxy.
Michael Ellis, Minister for Arts, Heritage and Tourism, said: “Jodrell Bank played a central role in transforming our understanding of the Universe and is therefore a site of global importance. The nomination process for UNESCO is rightly thorough but I believe Jodrell Bank deserves to be recognised. The diverse heritage of the UK is world renowned and the observatory would be a worthy addition to our list of World Heritage Sites.”
Professor Teresa Anderson, Director of Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre said: “The Jodrell Bank Observatory, and Lovell Telescope in particular, have become icons of science and engineering around the world and we’re delighted to reach this milestone. We have been preparing the case for nomination for inclusion of Jodrell Bank on the World Heritage list for several years now and we look forward to showcasing its rich scientific heritage on the international stage.”
Professor Tim O’Brien, Associate Director of the Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics, said: “Jodrell Bank really is an iconic site and institution, not just here in the northwest of England but to people around the world. It is the one remaining site, worldwide which has been a working observatory from the very first days of radio astronomy to the present day. It’s important that we protect its rich heritage as we celebrate its current and future work.”
Last year the Government announced it will award £4 million to Jodrell Bank to help fund its new interpretation centre project, promoting the historically significant scientific work.
We were delighted to hear on Wednesday that the Discovery Centre was awarded £4m in the Autumn Statement to go towards our First Light Project. This fantastic news provides the final piece in the jigsaw that will enable us to move ahead with our exciting and ambitious plans for the development at Jodrell Bank.
The project, which supports Jodrell Bank’s bid for UNESCO World Heritage Site Status, will involve the creation of a stunning new gallery where people will be able to discover the fascinating history and inspiring stories of Jodrell Bank Observatory.
We are very grateful to all our funders for backing this fantastic new project, including to David Rutley MP who has been tireless in his support of our plans. We’re looking forward to creating something very special to celebrate the history of this unique place.
From 11 – 17 December, we will be taking part in the Heritage Lottery Fund’s #ThanksToYou promotion by offering FREE ADMISSION to all visitors who play the National Lottery.
We’ll be joining over 350 other venues in this nation-wide campaign to demonstrate the impact of lottery funding. -Without National Lottery players, the £7.7billion of funding awarded to more than 42,000 heritage projects since 1994, would not be possible.
Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre has recently been awarded a Heritage Lottery Fund grant to support its First Light Project. This project will create a stunning new building in which visitors will be able to engage with the history of the site and the stories of the scientists and engineers who have worked here.
So, if you’ve ever played the National Lottery, then you’ve helped support exciting new projects like First Light, and this is our chance to say Thank You!
Book your free admission Tickets
From Monday 11 – Sunday 17 December, we will be offering free admission to anyone who plays the national lottery. Simply book your tickets online and bring any lottery ticket or scratch card with you when you visit. Proof can be either digital or paper and date of purchase is not relevant. You can bring as many people as you like with one lottery ticket, just be sure to add them to your booking.