The Mark II and Lovell Telescopes at Jodrell Bank.
Credit: The University of Manchester

Jodrell Bank Observatory has been added to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) World Heritage List. The observatory becomes the 32nd UNESCO World Heritage Site in the UK to receive this award and joins just over 1,100 sites internationally.

Being held in Baku, Azerbaijan, the World Heritage Convention is an international treaty created in 1972 to promote the conservation and preservation of important natural and cultural sites.

Six cultural sites were added to UNESCO’s World Heritage List. The newly inscribed sites are located in Azerbaijan, Portugal, the Russian Federation, Spain, and the UK.

Mark II Telescope
Credit: Anthony Holloway from Amy Bishop (The University of Manchester)

Substantial scientific impact

As noted in a UNESCO statement:

“Located in a rural area of northwest England, free from radio interference, Jodrell Bank is one of the world’s leading radio astronomy observatories.

At the beginning of its use, in 1945, the site housed research on cosmic rays detected by radar echoes. This observatory, which is still in operation, includes several radio telescopes and working buildings, including engineering sheds and the Control Building.

Jodrell Bank has had substantial scientific impact in fields such as the study of meteors and the moon, the discovery of quasars, quantum optics, and the tracking of spacecraft.

This exceptional technological ensemble illustrates the transition from traditional optical astronomy to radio astronomy (1940s to 1960s), which led to radical changes in the understanding of the universe.”

Radio astronomer Bernard Lovell in the Control Room at Jodrell Bank.
Credit: Amy Bishop (The University of Manchester)

Space race history

Jodrell Bank, owned by the University of Manchester, is famous as the home of the Lovell Telescope, the world’s third largest steerable radio telescope. Completed in 1957, the dish was the largest of its kind anywhere in the world until 1973 and was the catalyst for the construction of many other large scale satellite dishes.

Sir Bernard Lovell shows the Sputnik Echo to the press.
Credit: Amy Bishop (The University of Manchester)

The Lovell Telescope’s first act was to track the Soviet Union’s Sputnik, the world’s first artificial satellite.

Jodrell Bank now joins a prestigious group of sites across the globe recognized by UNESCO’s international community as sites of Outstanding Universal Value.

In a Jodrell Bank statement regarding the recognition: “It places the site on an equal footing with the likes of Stonehenge and the Taj Mahal and represents an enormous accolade not only for Jodrell Bank and The University of Manchester, but also for the region, and the UK as a whole.”

For more information on this historic and on-going research, go to:

https://www.jodrellbank.net/

Also, go to this informative video at:

https://youtu.be/E1HKmDyQM0I

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