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Watching the skies at our Family Stargazing night…

We love this time of year. As the clocks go back and the nights draw in, it gives us more opportunities to look up and explore the wonders of the night sky! To celebrate the changing of the seasons, we held our first Family Stargazing Night of the year last Saturday.

The evening was a huge hit -the skies were clear, the weather was fine, and we welcomed over 200 families, all eager to get started in stargazing here at Jodrell Bank.

Our friends at Macclesfield Astronomical Society were on hand to help us navigate the stars with telescopes and binoculars. Meanwhile our engagement team put on a range of activities including a fantastic live science show, a host of drop-in hands-on crafts, and a series of planetarium sessions.

We’d like to say a big thank you to Macclesfield Astronomical Society who helped us put on such a great event. Watch out for more events like this listed here on our what’s on pages, and don’t forget to pop in and visit our Gift Shop for planispheres, telescopes and star guides -perfect for any budding young astronomer!

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Photography by Howard Barlow

Girls Night Out at Jodrell Bank

Last Thursday we hosted another popular Girls Night Out event here at Jodrell Bank. This is our twice-yearly celebration of women and girls in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths). It takes place every spring and autumn, and was created by us to support women and girls who study or work in STEM or who are interested in pursuing a career in a STEM subject.

Our guest speaker for this edition was The University of Manchester’s Professor Alice Larkin. Alice is Head of the School of Mechanical, Aerospace and Civil Engineering and a researcher in the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research. She gave a fascinating talk and kindly stayed around afterwards to answer questions about her research and career.

After the talk, attendees toured the site, taking in a range of activities:

A host of expert Environmental Scientists from the University of Manchester made up our mini-researcher fair and provided plenty of engaging and hands-on experiments and activities for everyone to get involved with. Our inflatable planetarium was set up for the evening too, and visitors enjoyed a guided tour of the planets, looking for signs of habitability. We also introduced a special trail for participants to follow and discover some of the world’s greatest female scientists. -Take a look at some of the incredible women we featured in the Reach for the Stars trail below. And, of course, our traditional Girls Night Out chocolate brownies were enjoyed by all in the Planet Pavilion Cafe!

We’d like to offer our warmest thanks to everyone who took part in the event, helping us to organise another successful evening and inspiring even more women and girls to pursue their interests in STEM.

“Just had one of the best Girls Night Out at Jodrell Bank discussing the historical and current effects of climate change” Donna Butcher

You can view a collection of images from the event here:

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The next Girls Night Out will take place on Friday 8th March 2019, this time with a focus on the red planet and featuring Dr Natasha Stephen from the University of Plymouth. You can find out more and book your tickets online here.

We hope to see you there!

Photography by Howard Barlow

Operation Earth at Jodrell Bank

This summer, we partnered up with the Association for Science and Discovery Centres and the Natural Environment Research Council to engage our visitors with a host of fun and fact-packed shows and activities exploring the world of environmental science.

Part of a two-year nationwide project, Operation Earth highlights the relevance of contemporary environmental science issues to everyone’s daily lives and to society’s future. We found it to be a wonderful way to celebrate our home planet alongside our friends and peers at great UK science centres including Eden Project, Natural History Museum, National Space Centre and many others.

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We’re proud to have contributed to this fantastic project by:

  • Delivering Operation Earth science shows to a total audience of over 7,000 children and young families, including at our award-winning festival of discovery, bluedot and in a dedicated autism-friendly show in partnership with New Leaf.
  • Providing 229 hours of hands-on Operation Earth activities for visitors to Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre
  • Helping a host of children and young families create over 200 environmentally friendly plant pots to plant and grow their own wildflowers (with thanks to the Jodrell Bank garden volunteers!)
  • Presenting 5 special Meet the Expert sessions with environmental scientists.
  • Engaging a further 300 people with Operation Earth via outreach activities including at the University of Manchester’s Community Festival.
  • Giving out 70 Bee Backpack trails to visiting children to explore our gardens via fun bee-related games and activities
  • Inspiring over 2,500 Jodrell Bank visitors to make their own planet pledge! You can see a few of them, including some of ours, below.

A huge thanks to everyone that took part!

What’s on this autumn?

As the seasons start to change and summer turns to autumn, we’re looking forward to a host of exciting new events…

The night’s are drawing in so now’s the perfect opportunity to get into stargazing by joining us at one of our popular Stargazing Nights, or, why not learn how to take impressive photos of the night sky at an Astrophotography workshop?

Girls Night Out is back too, for another celebration of women in STEM. This time, we’re exploring the world of environmental science. Find out more and book your tickets here. Plus, our Lovell Lecture series picks up again starting on 20th September with Jodrell Bank’s own Professor Ben Stappers, followed by Professor Amanda Bamford and Andrew Gray from Manchester Museum on 17th October. And, there’s still a few places left on our final Stars and Stones event, exploring two great sites in one day: Jodrell Bank and The Blackden Trust.

There’s plenty to families to enjoy at half term too, including Live Science Shows, Meet the Expert sessions, activities for the under 7s and our ever-popular Telescope Walking Tours.

Don’t forget, Annual Pass holders can access 10% discount on all Jodrell Bank events and free admission year-round. To join our Annual Pass scheme, click here.

And click here, to see our full what’s on listings…

See you soon!

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Maintenance work on the Lovell Telescope

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 England as 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.

That was bluedot 2018!

From 19-22 July, we welcomed more than 18,000 festival-goers to Jodrell Bank for a packed celebration of science, music, art and discovery.

The 4 day festival saw an impressive 147 music acts (including a 60-piece orchestra), 45 research teams, 43 science talks, 22 panel discussions, 11 art installations, 8 festival stages, 3 science marketplaces and 0 single-use plastics!

We want to take the opportunity to thank all our many partners, speakers, artists and exhibitors who made this year’s festival so special, and of course, to all those that attended and shared their weekends with us here at Jodrell Bank. We can’t wait to welcome you all back again next summer…

2019 Festival -Book Now!

Bluedot will return on 18-21 July 2019 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the moon landings and tickets are now on sale.
Click here to book

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See you next year!

Art meets Science at bluedot 2018

This year’s bluedot (19-22 July) has an incredible line-up and the arts and culture programming is bigger than ever.

The Lovell Telescope, at the heart of the festival, will once again illuminated by artists work via projection mapped bespoke installations. Look up as night falls to see our headline projection, ‘Megastructure’ by Marcus Lyall bringing the structure of the Lovell Telescope to life with a spectacular durational sequence of colour and light.

Expect also to see the second edition of COSMOS a flagship international art-science commission and residency produced by Abandon Normal Devices (AND). This year’s project welcomes Austrian based American artist Addie Wagenknecht whose work focuses on the tension between expression and technology. Having worked with the Jodrell Bank researchers and scientists, Addie has been exploring the data that the telescope collects from deep space to create a remarkable new artwork set to be projected onto the iconic structure over the festival weekend.

Meanwhile, look out the premiere of a bespoke artwork for the festival of our pale blue dot by Luke Jerram, of the awe-inspiring Museum of the Moon piece.

View the Earth like you’ve never seen it before, featuring detailed NASA imagery of the Earth’s surface accompanied by a sound composition by BAFTA award-winning composor Dan Jones. This piece is a bluedot and Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) co-commission with support from The UK Association for Science and Discovery Centres (ASDC).

Plus, stay vigilant in the main arena and watch out for Out of this World: an other-worldy procession of curious characters by Global Grooves. Blending together carnival arts, thumping percussion, ethereal beings and illuminated lanterns, the Friday and Saturday night parades will be a spectacle to behold. Supported using public funding by Arts Council England.

Once day transforms into night, immerse yourself into The Outer Space to discover The Lucid Lanterns; a dazzling multi-coloured outdoor sound and light show, Dr. Kronovator’s Fire Laboratory; an intruiging, interactive fiery spectacle and soundscape, both supported using public funding by Arts Council England.

The Red Stars teleport into the festival from the future with their a crew of time travelling, party-starting, sonic renegades to save bluedot from OneCor – a futuristic all-powerful corporation who have made all non-sponsored music and creativity illegal. Join in their spontaneous Micro-Raves to send you beaming into the future.

And finally, wonder into The Star Field and enjoy the return of The Space Shed, bringing their intergalactic storytelling show for families and children about one man’s mission to hack his way into space or celebrate the beginning of time with a large scale geometric installation in the arena based on The Big Bang.

With vast galaxies of art to discover at bluedot, immerse yourself into a cornecopia of wonder and curiousity this July.

Day Tickets are still available but selling fast, click here to book online now at just £59.75 each. There are plenty of great savings for children and families. 

The Blue Planet in Concert

The award winning bluedot festival will be opening in just three weeks time with Blue Planet in Concert, performed by the Hallé Orchestra on Thursday 19th July. The event kicks off a brand new family four-day format for the festival and promises to be a night to remember.

The show combines live music against a backdrop of remarkable footage from the original Blue Planet 2001 television series produced by the acclaimed BBC Natural History Unit and performed in the shadow of the giant Lovell Telescope.

Conducted by the composer, the Hallé will perform the internationally critically acclaimed concert version of the original Blue Planet, promising a unique and awe-inspiring spectacle in HD, exploring the vast oceans on our pale blue dot, and the challenges we face for the future.

Opening the Thursday night event will be Filming Blue Planet II: BBC in conversation with the British Antarctic Survey. In the final episode of Blue Planet II, bird ecologist Dr Lucy Quinn showed the world how a charismatic seabird – the wandering albatross – eats plastic pollution in the sea. Described by Sir David Attenborough as ‘tragic’, producer Yolly Bosiger who worked on the series, explains how they chose what to include in the programmes and how the impact of the series has led to a UK Government ban on plastics and a new movement where people are taking action to make changes for the future benefit of our Earth.

Following the talk and ahead of the Blue Planet concert, festival-goers can enjoy a performance from Laura Misch, a saxophonist, vocalist and producer popular with Gilles Peterson and Worldwide FM, whose extraordinary one-woman show fuses jazz and progressive electronic genres through exploring the space between analogue and electronically-manipulated sound.

Taking place on the opening evening, Thursday tickets are available to be purchased separately for just £29 with a weekend ticket, or £35 as a stand-alone ticket. Upgrade to our VIP package priced at £59.

Practical Action is Bluedot’s Charity Partner.

We’re thrilled to have Practical Action on board once again as one of bluedot’s official charity partners for 2018.

Practical Action is a global innovator, inspiring people to discover and adopt ingenious, practical ways to free themselves from poverty and disadvantage. Their projects help communities across the globe, including in Asia, Africa and South America and their inspirational body of work covers sustainable agriculture, water, sanitation and waste, access to energy and reducing vulnerability to disasters.

Practical Action CEO, Paul Smith Lomas has said We are really excited to be partnering with Bluedot for a third year. The line-up is incredible and it’s a great opportunity to generate some strong support and advocates for Practical Action.

Our ambition is to create a world where all men and women have access to the technology they need to meet their needs and reach their potential. Sustainability and innovation are at the heart of everything we do so Bluedot is the perfect fit for us.”

You’ll be able to visit members of the Practical Action team at Bluedot (19-22 July) at their festival stall in the Planet Field, where they’ll be running a range of drop-in activities, demonstrating how their work transforms lives.

Plus, new for 2018, Practical Action will also be running two hands-on workshops at the festival’s Launch Pad, including The Floating Garden Challenge, and Ditch the Dirt.

Find out what they got up to at bluedot last year…

Bluedot takes place on 19-22 July at Jodrell Bank. Find out more, including how to book tickets here


Join us this summer for Operation Earth!

Join us at Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre this summer as we celebrate the wonder of our home planet and dive into the exciting world of environmental science.

We’ve teamed up with the Association of Science and Discovery Centres (ASDC) and the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) to bring you a host of hands-on and interactive events and activities as part of a nation-wide engagement project called Operation Earth

From 28th July – 2nd September, visitors to Jodrell Bank will be able to take part in a range of activities, science shows, Q&A sessions, hands-on crafts, and guided tours. You can even make your own planet pledge to add to our wall.

Highlights include Operation Earth Activities. -Taking place every day throughout the school holidays, drop-in and learn more about the current issues facing our planet and what you can do to help.

You won’t want to miss our Operation Earth Science Show either, full of live experiments and interactive demonstrations, join us as we investigate Earthy’s land, air and oceans to see how we can work together to help.

Our popular Meet the Expert sessions are back too, this time with a weekly environmental scientist from The University of Manchester to answer all your questions.

And, every Thursday will see a special Garden Make and Take where you can make your own environmentally-friendly plant pot to take home with a new wildflower friend!

There’s plenty to explore at Jodrell Bank this summer and all events and activities are FREE with general admission.

What’s on at a glance…

Operation Earth Science Show
Every weekday from 30th July – 31st August

Operation Earth Activities
Every day, 28th July – 31st August

Meet the Expert
Tuesday 31st July – Tuesday 28th August

Meet the Environmental Expert
Every Wednesday, 1st – 29th August

Tiny Space Explorer Tours
Every Monday and Friday from 30th July – 31st August

Live Beekeeping Demonstrations
Every Thursday, 2nd – 30th August

Garden Make and Take
Every Thursday, 2nd – 30th August

Galaxy Garden Tours
Every Thursday, 2nd – 30th August

Telescope Walking Tours
Every day, 28th July – 2nd September

Book Admission Tickets

Click here to start planning your trip today – we’ll see you soon!