On Saturday 22nd April 2023 a group of DDAS members paid a visit to Jodrell Bank in Cheshire. For some it was their first visit to this most prestigious of astronomical sites, while for others it was a chance to see the facility again. Many attended the planetarium show inside the Space Dome, which is housed inside the impressive First Light Pavilion. This structure also hosts the First Light Exhibition, which tells the history of Jodrell Bank, and contains many fascinating artefacts and hands-on exhibits. The adjacent café afforded welcome refreshment, while the arboretum provided refreshing calm and peace.
Of course, the star of the visit was the world-famous Lovell Telescope, the 250-foot diameter radio dish, named after Sir Bernard Lovell, who established the Jodrell Bank Observatory in 1945. This awesome radio telescope (which at the time of our visit was the third largest steerable dish in the world) was parked for structural renovations, but still receiving signals which could be monitored from a special display in the nearby Space Pavilion. A circular path afforded close views of the telescope around most of its circumference.
Also visible on the site, albeit from a distance, was the 125-foot diameter Mark II telescope, which was in use on the day, as our members noticed its position had changed during our visit. Furthermore, a 7-m diameter dish, which is used for undergraduate teaching, was prominent on the roof of the observatory buildings. Before leaving, many of our members took full advantage of the gift shop, which sold a tempting collection of souvenirs and books! All in all, it was a fascinating and memorable visit, and for once the British weather gave us a dry and sunny day to enjoy our trip even more!