Jodrell Bank Observatory

N53 14 2.1 W2 18 13.9
Date of Inscription: 2019
Criteria: (i)(ii)(iv)(vi)
Property : 17.38 ha
Buffer zone: 18,569.22 ha
Ref: 1594
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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 property 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.

Jodrell Bank Observatory was important in the pioneering phase and later evolution of radio astronomy. It reflects scientific and technical achievements and interchanges related to the development of entirely new fields of scientific research. This led to a revolutionary understanding of the nature and scale of the Universe. The site has evidence of every stage of the history of radio astronomy, from its emergence as a new science to the present day.

Jodrell Bank Observatory is located in a rural area in northwest England. Originally, scientific activity was located at the southern end of the site, and from that time activity has moved to the north across the site with many new instruments developed and then abandoned. Remnants of early scientific instruments survive.

At the south end of the site is the location of the Mark II Telescope and it is bounded by an ensemble of modest research buildings in which much of the early work of the Observatory took place.

To the north of the Green, the site is dominated by the 76 metre diameter Lovell Telescope which sits in a working compound containing a number of engineering sheds and the Control Building. There are spaces open to the general public which include visitor facilities set around the Lovell Telescope. Other visitor facilities are outside the property to the northeast.

Jodrell Bank Observatory is the hub of the UK’s national wide array of up to seven radio telescopes (e-MERLIN) including the Lovell and Mark II Telescopes.

Criterion (i): Jodrell Bank Observatory is a masterpiece of human creative genius related to its scientific and technical achievements. The adaptation and development of radar and radio frequency reflectivity to develop radically new equipment, such as the Transit Telescope and Lovell Telescope, were a key part in the development of entirely new fields of scientific research and led to a dramatic change in the understanding of the Universe. The Observatory was important in the pioneering phase and later evolution of radio astronomy.

Criterion (ii): Jodrell Bank Observatory represents an important interchange of human values over a span of time and on a global scale on developments in technology related to radio astronomy. The scientific work at Jodrell Bank was at the heart of a global collaborative network. In particular, several important technological developments such as very large paraboloidal dish telescopes and interferometer were developed at the Observatory, and were later influential in scientific endeavours in many parts of the world.

Criterion (iv): Jodrell Bank Observatory represents an outstanding example of a technological ensemble which illustrates a significant stage in human history (1940s-1960s) – the transition from optical astronomy to radio astronomy and the associated consequence for the understanding of the Universe through multi-wavelength astrophysics. The property is also associated with the peacetime development of ‘Big Science’ as a major change in the way in which scientific research was supported and undertaken. The surviving evidence at the property related to the evolutionary development of radio astronomy from the post-war pioneering phase through to sophisticated, large scale research activity in the field makes Jodrell Bank an outstanding example of such a technological ensemble.

Criterion (vi): Jodrell Bank Observatory is directly and tangibly associated with events and ideas of outstanding universal significance. The development of the new field of radio astronomy at the property lead to a revolutionary understanding of the Universe which was only possible through research beyond the possibilities of optical astronomy to explore the electromagnetic spectrum beyond visible light. Understanding of the nature and scale of the Universe has been dramatically changed by research in radio astronomy at the Observatory.

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