What to expect
Please note that your time exploring our exhibition spaces will be self-guided: we do not offer tour guides. However, our expert staff will be on hand in the exhibitions to assist you and answer any questions. You can also print out and bring our exhibition worksheets to help your group explore.
As part of your day, your group will have time to explore our outdoor exhibitions, and gardens. As such, appropriate outdoor clothing is required.
All children must be supervised by a responsible adult at all times whilst on site.
If visiting on a Uniformed Group Saturday, your group will be given a timetable in advance, to follow on the day (please see ‘Structure of the day’).
What to bring
- A copy of your itinerary for each group leader (if visiting on a Uniformed Group Saturday)
- Printed exhibition worksheets for your group to use around our galleries
- We recommend that each child brings their lunch in a separate named bag
- Make sure your group brings appropriate clothes to explore our outside areas
- For young groups arriving on coaches, we also advise you bring at least one set of spare clothes in case someone gets travel sick. Unfortunately, we find this happens quite frequently!
Jodrell Bank is a live radio observatory. Mobile phones interfere with our radio telescopes, which are in use 24 hours a day. We therefore operate a radio-quiet policy and require that all visitors set their phones to flight mode, or switch them off.
- Mobile phones must not be used on site for calls, texts, internet, Bluetooth, or other wireless communication, for any reason.
- Mobile phones must not be left switched on, unless they are on flight mode.
- If someone needs to contact you during the day, they can call our main reception on 01477 571 766. Our staff will then relay the message to you.
- If you need to make a call during your visit, you are welcome to use one of our landlines; simply ask a member of our staff.
- You are welcome to use your mobile to take photos; provided it is set to flight mode.
Did you know: The Lovell telescope is so powerful, it could pick up a mobile phone signal on Mars!
Structure of the day
If you are coming on an exhibitions-only visit, you will not be sent an itinerary and will be free to explore the site at your own pace. We recommend you spend at least 2 and a half hours at the Centre to explore everything here.
If you are coming on a Uniformed Groups Saturday, you will receive a detailed itinerary as well as a map of the site two weeks before your visit. If for any reason you need a detailed itinerary before that, don’t hesitate to contact us.
During your trip your group will be timetabled for:
- A one hour session in our Inflatable Planetarium (if you are coming on one of our dedicated Uniformed Groups Saturdays)
- A 30 minutes lunch slot
- Any remaining time in our exhibition spaces (self-guided time)
In order for you to get the most out of your trip, we strongly recommend you spend at least 3 and a half hours at the Centre. This will give your group at least 30 minutes in each of our exhibition spaces, a 30 minute lunch break, your 50 minute Inflatable Planetarium session, plus sufficient turnaround time at arrival and departure.
It is important that you are as prompt as possible for your session and lunch slot as other groups are also likely to be scheduled in during the day.
We will try our best to work around any unforeseen circumstances during the day. This may include altering your itinerary. Please note that if your group’s arrival is delayed, we may need to shorten or cancel your Planetarium session, depending on other factors.
Examples of a typical timetable can be seen below:
Getting to us & access to the site
The entrance to our site lies on Bomish Lane. The postcode to use for sat-navs is SK11 9DW.
To plan your journey to us, please see our getting here page.
Access to the Jodrell Bank site is controlled by a barrier, which opens automatically at 9:55am.
If you arrive before this time, please follow the instructions on the keypad to speak to our reception staff.
Upon arrival, please head to the reception desk to sign in your group. A member of staff will welcome you, confirm the numbers you have brought, provide you with a map of the site and go through any relevant information.
Adult members of the group will be provided with wristbands. Please keep these on during your visit as they indicate you have paid.
Your children can store any bags, e.g. lunch bags, in one of our lunch trolleys.
Please note, we cannot allow your group into the Discovery Centre before 10am. If you arrive early, you are welcome to wait on our picnic benches in front of our entrance building.
If you are coming on an exhibitions-only visit, you are welcome to make use of one of our outside picnic areas. If you would like a space to eat your lunch indoors, please speak to a member of reception staff on arrival; they will let you know what space is available and at what time.
Groups attending one of our Uniformed Group Saturdays will usually be timetabled a 30 minute lunch slot, in one of our indoor lunch spaces. The time and location will be stated in your itinerary.
Please be as prompt as possible as other groups will likely be booked in before or after you
- We recommend each pupil has their lunch in a separate named bag.
- Upon arrival, pupils can deposit their lunches in one of our lunch trolleys, which are stored near reception.
- As you make your way to your lunch area, an adult member of your group can collect your lunch trolley from storage.
- We will provide you with two bin bags for your lunch waste – a clear one for recyclable items and a black one for non-recyclable items.
- After your lunch, please place your bin bags in your lunch trolley and make sure the area is clean and tidy.
- We kindly ask that an adult member of your group returns your lunch trolley to the storage area.
If your group would prefer to eat outside, we have plenty of outdoor picnic spaces available around the site which you are welcome to use.
The Planet Pavilion café is open from 10am to 4.30pm, where adults can purchase hot and cold drinks. Please note there may be a wait, especially during busy times.
Free planning visits
You are welcome to familiarise yourself with the Discovery Centre before your visit, by coming on a free planning visit. Please arrange this with our bookings officer when you make your provisional booking. When you arrive for your planning visit, please bring proof of group membership (e.g. a letterhead) to show at reception.
The Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre has been designed to be accessible to all. We try our best to meet all requirements, but if you have a query, please contact us.
For those with limited mobility and wheelchair users:
- All our buildings are fully accessible
- Accessible toilet facilities available in all buildings
- Exhibition areas and interactive displays cater for wheelchair users
- Workshops (including the Inflatable Planetarium) are fully accessible
For those who are deaf and hard of hearing:
- Induction loops are fitted in exhibition and education spaces
- All our video exhibits are subtitled
Toilets (including accessible facilities) are available in all our buildings.
Please note the number of toilets in each building is limited; you may find it easier to split your group and visit different buildings.
What's on site
The Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre consists of:
- Three buildings: the Planet Pavilion, the Space Pavilion, and the Star Pavilion
- A large outdoor area surrounding the Lovell telescope
- 35 acres of gardens, including a playground
Click here to explore our interactive map.
At the heart of Jodrell Bank is the giant Lovell telescope, which has been doing world-class radio astronomy since 1957. You can learn more about the Lovell telescope here and you can keep an eye on it here.
In our interactive exhibitions your pupils can find out how the Lovell telescope works and about some of the objects in space it observes. They can also learn about the planets in our Solar System, plus they can put their space questions to our expert staff!
- We are open to the public from 10am to 5pm daily, so your group will likely be sharing our exhibition spaces with members of the public.
- The Lovell telescope is sometimes undergoing maintenance from our engineers during the day; during these times it will not be observing or moving.
- Visitors are not allowed into the observatory building or up the Lovell telescope. The observatory is a working environment and the Lovell telescope is in use 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
The Planet Pavilion (building 1)
This is the first building you will enter upon arrival. It contains reception, the café, the gift shop and an exhibition space.
If you are coming on one of our Uniformed Groups dedicated Saturdays (with a Planetarium session), your group will typically be timetabled half an hour to explore the exhibition space here. If you are coming on an exhibitions-only visit, you will be free to explore the exhibition at your own pace.
This exhibition includes the Jodrell Bank Orrery; a giant clockwork model of the moving Solar System.
Although the sizes of the planets and Sun are not to scale, nor are the distances between them, orreries correctly show the relative time planets take to orbit the Sun. When moving, one Earth year in real life equals one minute for the orrery.
Please note your time here will be self-guided, however an Explainer will usually be present to answer any of your children’s questions. You can also use the Planet Pavilion section of the worksheets to help guide your group.
During your time in the Planet Pavilion, small groups of children can visit the gift shop, if required. They must be separated into small groups due to the limited space available in the gift shop.
The Space Pavilion (building 2)
This building contains an interactive exhibition, along with two teaching spaces; the Classroom and Events Space.
If you are visiting during one of our Uniformed Groups dedicated Saturdays (with a Planetarium session), your group will typically be timetabled an hour to explore the exhibition space here. If you are coming on an exhibitions-only visit, you will be free to explore the exhibition at your own pace.
Please note your time here will be self-guided, however an Explainer will be present to answer any of your children’s questions. You can also use the Space Pavilion section of the worksheets to help you.
The Space Pavilion exhibition includes:
- A live data feed from the Lovell telescope (please note: this is in the form of a data plot and not an image of what the telescope is ‘seeing’).
- A hands-on model of the Lovell telescope.
- Interactive interviews with some of the scientists and engineers who work at Jodrell Bank.
- A heat camera.
- The gravity well; a hands-on model of a black hole.
- The ‘Big Bang cone’ playing the ‘sound’ of the first 100 million years from real data.
- A usable, see-through Newtonian telescope.
- Information about the biggest telescopes around the world and some of the astonishing images they have created.
- And more!
The Star Pavilion (building 3)
This building is usually closed during weekends. There is no exhibition area in this building; we use it for our education programme during term time.
The Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre has a number of outdoor exhibits and activities.
If you are visiting during one of our Uniformed Groups dedicated Saturdays (with a Planetarium session), your group will typically be timetabled half an hour here. If you are coming on an exhibitions-only visit, you will be free to explore the area at your own pace.
Since this is outside, please bring appropriate clothes in case the weather is inclement. If the weather is severe and you wish to do a different activity, please speak to a member of staff on the day.
Our outdoor exhibits include:
- The Telescope Pathway: Follow the path around the base of the Lovell telescope. Information boards along the way tell the story of the construction of the Lovell telescope and provide information about some of the objects it observes. If you wish to follow this activity, the Telescope Path section in the worksheets contains a puzzle for children to complete.
- The Planet Pathway: A scale model of the Solar System hidden throughout the grounds of Jodrell Bank! The planets are represented by circular metal discs set into the ground. If you wish to follow this activity, you can use the Planet Path section in the worksheets to help you.
- Outdoor interactive exhibits: Find out more about Jupiter’s rotation and storms, plus experiment with gravity just like Galileo! (NB: the ‘vortex’ exhibit is only available in the warm summer months).
- The Whispering Dishes: These demonstrate, using sound, how the curved shape of the Lovell telescope amplifies faint signals (please note the Lovell telescope is not actually detecting sound, but radio waves – a form of electromagnetic radiation, similar to light).
Gardens and playground
Jodrell Bank contains 35 acres of gardens, which include two national collections. The gardens also include The Galaxy Garden and an outdoor Play Area.
If you are visiting during one of our Uniformed Groups dedicated Saturdays (with a Planetarium session), your group will typically be timetabled an hour here. If you are coming on an exhibitions-only visit, you will be free to explore the gardens at your own pace. This is also a good place for you to use our Hands-on activities pack (see “Hands on activities pack”).
Please note that the gardens close early during the winter months and that if the weather is severe (e.g. strong winds) the gardens will be closed all day.
Situated next to reception (in the Planet Pavilion building) is our gift shop. Small groups of children can visit the gift shop during your time in the Planet Pavilion.
Inflatable Planetarium Session
Please note Inflatable Planetarium sessions are only available to groups attending one of our Uniformed Group Saturdays.
A member of our education team will lead your Inflatable planetarium session. This session will last an hour and will take place in the Events Space (in the Space Pavilion, building 2).
You group will see the different constellations, the phases of the Moon and explore some of the planets (depending on what’s visible around the time of your visit). This session is designed to cover key parts of your group’s badge.
Please note our Inflatable Planetarium is a dark and quiet environment and this session involves sitting on the floor for the duration of the show.
Please arrive promptly for your session, as other groups will likely be booked in before or after your group.
If any of your children should require first aid, please contact a member of Jodrell Bank staff. There are first aiders on site at all times and we will provide assistance. Our site is also equipped with two automatic defibrillators.
Please do not use your mobile phones to contact parents. Mobile phones cannot be used on site for any reason. If you need to use a phone, please see a member of our staff, who will show you to one of our landlines.
Your role on the day
Children must be accompanied by responsible adults from your group for the duration of your visit. Please note that your organisation remains responsible for your group whilst at Jodrell Bank.
Group leaders should ensure that accompanying adults have the necessary experience and authority to supervise a group of children on a trip.
Groups leaders should ensure that the ratio of accompanying staff to children is in line with their own visit policies.
If the person who booked the trip is not attending on the day, the organiser must ensure all relevant paperwork relating to the trip (including this document) is passed to the relevant staff.
Terms and conditions