Jodrell Bank Observatory - Early Years

Early Years

See also: Timeline of Jodrell Bank Observatory

Jodrell Bank was first used for academic purposes in 1939 when the University of Manchester's Department of Botany purchased three fields at the site from the Leighs. The name of the site came from a nearby ground rise called Jodrell Bank, which was named after William Jauderell and whose descendants, the Leighs, lived at the mansion that is now Terra Nova School. The site was extended in 1952 by the purchase of a farm from a local farmer, George Massey. The new land included the site upon which the Lovell Telescope was sited.

The first use of the site for astrophysics was in 1945, when Bernard Lovell wished to use some equipment left over from World War II, including a gun laying radar to investigate cosmic rays. The equipment he was using was a GL II radar system working at a wavelength of 4.2 m, provided by J. S. Hey. He originally intended to use the equipment in Manchester, however electrical interference from the trams that then ran down Oxford Road prevented him from doing so. Consequently, he moved the equipment to Jodrell Bank, 25 miles (40 km) south of the city on 10 December 1945. Lovell's main topic of research at the time were transient radio echoes, which he confirmed were from ionized meteor trails by October 1946. The first staff were Alf Dean and Frank Foden and meteors were observed by the naked eye while Lovell observed the electromagnetic signal on the equipment. Coincidentally, the first time he turned the radar on at Jodrell Bank — the 14 December 1945 — the Geminids meteor shower was at a maximum.

Over the next few years, he accumulated more ex-military radio hardware, including a portable cabin, commonly known as a "Park Royal" in the military (see Park Royal Vehicles). The first permanent building on the site was located near to this cabin, and was named after it.

Now Jodrell bank looks at the radio waves from the planets and stars.

Read more about this topic:  Jodrell Bank Observatory

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