Jodrell Bank Observatory

Whilst visiting Manchester for Easter we popped over to Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre in Macclesfield, Cheshire. Jodrell Bank is a University of Manchester observatory that is open to the public to find out about the work that takes place there. The site is home to the Lovell Telescope – the third largest radio telescope in the world. And there’s no doubt that you would have noticed the telescope poking through the trees if you’ve ever driven around the surrounding countryside. The telescope is huge!

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And the picture really doesn’t get across the sheer size of this thing – the engineering is amazing. What is even more fascinating is that it’s completely steerable along the tracks at its base. We were super lucky to get to see it move whilst we visited as I know that sometimes you can go and not see it move at all.

Because we visited on Easter Sunday, it wasn’t busy and it meant we could have a really good look around the exhibits. There are 3 main pavilions to look around and the exhibitions were super! It was actually one of the better centres I’ve visited because there were so many interactive activities to compliment all the information they had around – videos to watch, a tunnel that mimics the sound of a black hole, and a plasma globe just to name a few:

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There were plenty of reminders too that the centre is still used for significant research in astrophysics at the University of Manchester. You can have a chat with the staff that are on hand to hear more about the research they do, and one exhibit even lets you print a snippet of some of the live radio signal that the telescope is picking up – a pretty cool and unique souvenir I think…

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Outside there were even more interactive exhibits to take a look at and a trail that directs you half-way around the telescope for a closer look. They also have some lovely gardens to wander around and was worth going purely for a walk around the grounds. Even though it wasn’t a particularly nice day in terms of weather, we still managed to see plenty of wildlife and I can imagine that the gardens would be beautiful during the warmer months.

I think we all had a really lovely afternoon at Jodrell Bank. And it certainly did beat sitting at home in front of the TV during the bank holiday weekend. I think it’s a really nice centre for taking young children to because there were plenty of hands-on exhibitions that could keep them occupied for ages whilst still having lots of interesting information for adults to read too. Another one worth a visit!

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