What to expect
Please note that your time exploring Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre 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.
What to bring
||Printed exhibition worksheets for your group to use around our galleries
||Packed lunches – we recommend reusable lunch boxes to cut down on single-use waste! Please note, our lunch trolleys are not big enough to hold full group set of backpacks!
||Make sure your group brings appropriate clothes to explore our outside areas
||For young groups arriving on minibuses or 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!
Phone free zone
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
Your group 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.
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.
Please ensure this information is passed on to any parents/guardians who will be dropping off/picking up children.
Car park charges
Dropping off/picking up only
Any parents/guardians dropping off or picking up children (i.e. not parking in the car park), do not have to pay car park charges.
Please collect a ticket from the machine upon entering the car park. You can stay for up to 20 minutes in the car park without the need to validate your ticket at reception. Scan your ticket at the exit barrier to leave the car park.
All cars parked in our car park for longer than 20 minutes are subject to the Discovery Centre’s car park charges. Please pay for your parking at reception.
There is no parking charge for:
- Minibuses and coaches
- Jodrell Bank annual pass or local pass holders
- Blue badge holders
However, you will still need to collect a ticket upon entering the car park, and get it validated (free of charge) at reception. When leaving, please scan your validated ticket at the exit barrier.
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 their lunches 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 have booked in advance, we will reserve you a 30 minute lunch slot in one of our indoor picnic areas.
Please be as prompt as possible as other groups will likely be booked in before and/or after you.
Please note, we cannot guarantee you an indoor lunch space, if you turn up without an advance booking.
Alternatively, you are welcome to make use of one of our outdoor picnic areas, at any time.
- Upon arrival, your group can deposit their lunches in one of our lunch storage trolleys, which are stored near reception.
- We recommend that learners bring lunches in reusable lunch boxes to cut down on single-use waste.
- The University of Manchester is dedicated to reducing single-use plastic waste – please help us!
- Please note, our lunch trolleys are not big enough to store a full group set of backpacks.
- As you make your way to your lunch area, an adult member of your group can collect your 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 trolley to the storage area.
The Planet Pavilion café is open from 10am to 4.30pm, where adult members of your group 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 group 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.
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 indoor spaces; the Classroom and Events Space.
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)
There is no exhibition area in this building. If you are visiting on a weekend when we have extra activities on, there may be activities running in this building. Otherwise, the building will be inaccessible.
The Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre has a number of outdoor exhibits and activities.
Since this is outside, please bring appropriate clothes in case the weather is inclement.
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.
- 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 our Play Area, and apiary (bee hive!).
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.
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