“ Jodrell Bank Visitor Centre, Macclesfield, Cheshire, SK11 9DL. „
I didn't actually plan as such to go to Jodrell Bank - in fact I didn't even know it was a mere 30 minute drive from my house (in Greater Manchester). No, I just wanted something interesting and different to do on my day off with my husband, and on seeing it was a nice sunny Sunday, I simply Googled for 'things to do near Manchester'.
I'm glad I did! We had a great day at Jodrell Bank and I'm writing this review as a guide to anyone thinking of going :)
***What is Jodrell Bank?***
The Jodrell Bank Observatory is an observatory that hosts a number of radio telescopes, the largest of which at the observatory is the Lovell Telescope, which is the third largest steerable radio telescope in the world.
There are three other active telescopes located at the observatory; the Mark II, as well as 42 ft (13 m) and 7 m diameter radio telescopes.
Jodrell Bank Observatory is also the base of the Multi-Element Radio Linked Interferometer Network (MERLIN), a National Facility run by the University of Manchester on behalf of the Science and Technology Facilities Council. In addition to this, Jodrell Bank participates in the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence Project (SETI), though they do advise that they haven't found anything as yet (if you belive that ;) )
The observatory is open to the general public and to learning groups.
***Where is it?***
Jodrell Bank is located in the rather picturesque village of Lower Withington, in Cheshire. It is about 30 minutes from Manchester Airport and approximately 45 minutes by car from Manchester City Centre.
To get there by train, the nearest train station to the observatory is Goostrey on the Crewe to Manchester line. The observatory is then approximately a two mile walk on flat terrain (quite a nice walk, it has to be said). Or you can get a taxi from the station, this would be just over five minutes and cost around £7.
***History of Jodrell Bank***
The site itself dates back to 1939 when the University of Manchester purchased a number of fields for horticultural research. Today, it houses a 35 acre Arboretum, built in 1972, which houses many rare and varied types of crab apple and other plants and flowers.
The arboretum also features a small scale model of the solar system, using Jodrell Bank itself as the location of the sun.
The observatory itself was established in 1945 by Sir Bernard Lovell (the largest telescope is named after him accordingly), who wanted to investigate cosmic rays after his works with radar during the Second World War.
The site has since played an important role in the research of meteors, quasars, pulsars, masers and gravitational lenses, and was heavily involved with the tracking of space probes when the space age started to develop, it's completion being just prior to the Russian Probe Sputnik's launch.
I wouldn't worry if you haven't read up on Jodrell Bank or know much about it prior to visiting, however - as the information boards around the Lovell Telescope cover plenty.
***The Visitor Centre***
The visitor centre boasts an educational visitors' centre at the site, which covers the history of Jodrell Bank and also has a 3D theatre hosting 'trips to Mars'.
The main attraction, of course, is the Lovell Telescope, which is phenomenally large in real life - absolutely huge. I would recommend you take a camera - this is no Sky dish! There is a path around the telescope, which is lined with information boards covering the history of the centre and the work that it does. It is well worded, meaning that children to adults can grasp the information.
There's plenty of seating, and a small covered area in case of rain. There's also a small children's play area, and a metal 'reciever dish' - one person puts their ear to it and can hear what's being said at the metal 'transmitter end'.
There's a good sized car park for around 60 cars, a small but nice cafe and a little gift shop selling Jodrell Bank branded items and space themed goods - all at reasonable prices (45p for a pencil, for example).
The site itself costs £2 per person to enter (children go free). I think this is a fair price, as you are likely to spend under an hour here, given that there is less to do here than say a zoo or a theme park (though this is a great place to visit!)
The 3D theatre costs £1 per person, I didn't go as it was queued to the door, but I think this is a fair price for anyone wanting to experience a little more about the space race and our solar system.
I spent around 45 minutes with my husband reading the information boards and taking photos (which is allowed, however it is important to note that the site itself is radio sensitive which means mobile phones must be either switched to airport mode, if you use your mobile for the camera). We then had a look in the cafe and gift shop, and then we left the site. It might not be the longest time you'd spend at a visitor attraction and for that reason, I wouldn't recommend travelling a long way to visit Jodrell Bank (say, for over 90 minutes). However it is important to note that the site is nearby to some lovely villages, good old fashioned English pubs and shops, and some beautiful countryside, so it certainly wouldn't be difficult to make a nice day of the area itself, incorporating Jodrell Bank.
You do need an interest in space, but the sheer size of the Lowell telescope means that even the most disinterested of your party may become engaged with the work done there - and certainly want a photo next to it!
The children and families we saw there certainly looked to be having a nice time, and what a nice way to spend the day - in the open air, learning something new about our world, and all for the princely sum of £2. Really, you can't complain.
Yes - I'm glad I went to Jodrell Bank and so is my husband, it was an interesting and different day out and the photos look great! I'd advise you to go on a clear, bright and if possible warm (or at least not too windy) day as the majority of the site is out of doors and I can't imagine wanting to spend an hour looking up at a telescope in the biting cold and rain! But luckily the day I visited was a rare sunny one and we had a lovely time at Jodrell Bank.
If you or your relatives and friends are interested in space and this is within a decent travelling time for you, I would say this is an essential place to visit. It's totally unique, and seeped in history (looking at the main building you can almost imagine the staff in the 1950s scanning for UFOs!). It's a British institution, and for £2, I cannot fault it. Rather than the fast paced expense of a theme park, Jodrell Bank has one amazing sight, all the fresh country air you can breathe and the story of our country's contribution to the space boom of the early 50s.
A grand day out.
The main part of Jodrell Bank is the famous Lovell telescope and the entire theme of the exhibits are science and in particular the planets. It has the largest planetarium outside London and the show is very good. You are not looking at the real sky (obviously) but it is like looking at the sky on the clearest possible night. The shows in the planetarium are every 45 minutes.
There are some exhibitions on mans flight to the moon and of the planets in our solar system. There are a couple of model figures of Albert Einstein and Sir Isaac Newton to explain some of the physics in the exhibition. I am not a fan of these things as they always look pretty naff to me. Anyway the physics bit is OK but could be made a bit more interesting. To be honest I've seen better science exhibits than this at places like the Manchester Science museum in Castlefield.
Its not all science inside and as Jodrell Bank is set in a lovely wooded area you can visit its own Environment Centre. Here you can learn about the interaction of science and nature as well just stroll around the grounds and have a picnic.
Jodrell Bank has a café with the usual snacks and sandwiches. Its OK but has the feel of a garden centre.
Jodrell Bank is situated on the A535 off Junction 18 of the M6. Admission costs £4.60 for adults and £2.30 for children, for senior citizens it costs £3.30.
As the tour of the science bit including the planetarium takes 2 to 3 hours plus your visit to the gardens its not bad value. It would appeal to those with young children more particularly if they have an interest in science, fact or fiction.
"...........and Jodrell Bank looked straight through them, which was a pity because it was exactly the sort of thing they'd been looking for all these years......" These lines come from The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, but Jodrell Bank is most certainly not a work of fiction, but a very real place, and one you can visit.
This summer my partner and I, plus a couple of friends decided to return to Jodrell Bank having not been there for a couple of years. The last time we had gone, the dish was being refurbished, so were hadn't be able to see it in operation.
It is easy enough to find, with it being well signposted off the motorway and main roads. You do though come into a very narrow road right at the end, so please do proceed with caution. As you drive up, you can see not just the main dishes, but also smaller ones they have at the site.
You enter the car park, and the dish predominants the immediate landscape. Then as you walk towards the visitor centre, you notice a bust bronze statue, looking strangely alone in a vast expanse of lawn area, detached from the rest of the location. You do eventually find out this is a bust of someone called Nicolaus Copernicus 1473 - 1543, astronomer. It does all rather strangely remote to the rest of the place!
When we got there this time they were also undergoing major refurbishment of the planetarium and extensive exhibitions they used to have.
But on the upside, admission costs had been reduced to reflect this from the last time we were there, and currently stand at £1-50 for adults which is still very good value.
Another upside from the last visit is the newly installed observational Pathway that stretches 180 degrees around the base of the Lovell Telescope. This pathway has various boards and signage with information about the scope and Jodrell Bank. You also realize there are items on the floor, all relating in some way to astronomy and the stars (Planets and the Sun). You soon realize this is The Solar System Trail, which starts at the Sun in front of the dish, and carries on right through not only the walkway area, but right on into the Arboretum (gardens).
The pathway also allows visitors to get closer to the telescope than ever before, with a small raised deck area at the end of it where you can sit and watch the dish as it rumbles quietly in the background every few minutes (On average every 5 to 7 minutes), as it needs to adjust its position.
With the lack on major exhibitions, they do run a small 3D presentation of a futuristic flight out to Mars. This is particularly good if you've got Children who do seem to enjoy it immensely. It's also fairly interesting for Adults (with or without Children).
There are also some computer panels and TV screens in a small area between the shop and 3D screening area. The computer screens are interactive, allowing you to find out information about Space, Jodrell and other Scientific information. Often using a multiple choice question, you can test some of your knowledge and see how you fair.
The TV screens have a selection of programs you can run. Each vary from just a few minutes to around 10 minutes in length. Again you are given indepth information about Jodrell and some of the work they do there. One example is you get to know how they work inside the Control Room and also the Lovell Observing Room.
Outside one area still there is their version of the whispering gallery (In St Pauls). Its a couple of green painted dishes, 2 meters in diameter, some 30 meters apart, facing each other and some steps so you can walk up to the centre of them. The premise behind them is beautifully simple, and that is to illustrate the idea behind dishes focussing sound waves. You can have someone literally just whispering in the other dish and it can sound as is they are right next to you!
Children and Adults alike all love trying them out.
The shop has some of the typical souvenir type items, that is within range of Children's pocket money. They also have some more expensive adult orientated items, mostly books and media (DVD's and CD's) relating to Space, Jodrell and Science. You also pay to go in at the counter in the Shop. Staff are all very helpful, great with children and generally help to make it a memorable experience for the right reasons.
The downside was the cost of even a drink in the Cafe. It is expensive, even for a place like this! I know you expect to pay over the average, but we just took one look at prices and decided to stick with the picnic we had brought along! The cup of coffee would have to wait!
I would advise anyone wishing to go that you either accept your going to pay quite a lot to feed yourselves and drink, or do as we did, take your own food.
We were there one lovely day in June! One of the few we've had this summer. The picnic area is situated on the other side of the car park, next to the Arboretum
Having eaten, we then headed towards the Arboretum and a hut that contains a rather bland Environmental Discovery Centre which we went into first. We felt it didn't quite do enough to hold your attention, but once you enter the Arboretum you can spend time looking out for sundials and sculptures hidden around the place. You also get to see the dish from another angle.
This offers a lovely tranquil area to relax in, a completely different aspect to the main visitors centre.
We were told they have finally secured the funding to begin work on the refurbishments in the main visitor centre. It appears this has taken considerably longer than they had anticipated, but were now confident the scheme would begin later this summer (2007), but they couldn't give a finish date.
Access for disabled is excellent (I have mobility trouble, but not once found it a problem). It is wheelchair and pushchair friendly.
Allowing for the problems with lack of exhibitions or plantitorium they have at the moment, the visit is still very good indeed, and you can still find plenty to do once there. The one major downside is the costs in the cafe. Expensive even for a tourist location of this kind.
My boyfriend is an aspiring Patrick Moore and space fascinates him. This bank holiday with the in-laws, we visited Jodrell Bank Visitor Centre and Arbitorium, deep in the heart of Cheshire, to see the world famous Lowell radio telescope. It really was a great day out and was fun for everyone. What is Jodrell Bank? Jodrell Bank is Manchester University?s astrophysics department in the countryside near Macclesfield. It is within easy driving distance of Manchester. Jodrell Bank consists of an observatory, three huge radio telescopes including the world famous Lowell telescope. There is also a visitor?s centre explaining astronomy and other general science and a large arbitorium. We were lucky to see the visitor?s centre as it is soon closing for a major refit and redevelopment. The observatory was opened in 1945 and the Lowell Telescope was opened in 1957. The locals must have thought the telescope itself was from outer space as it is huge. The massive moving satellite dish dominates the Cheshire skyline and weighs 3000 tonnes and is 300 feet (91 m). It certainly is an impressive structure. How to Get There. The problem with Jodrell Bank is that it is almost in the middle of nowhere. It is not a place that you could get to by public transport very easily so a car is necessary. It can be reached by turning off the M6 at Junction 18 and heading along country roads. It is a very pleasant drive though. The Visitor?s Centre. The visitor?s centre is fabulous and fun for all ages. There were loads of kids and big kids alike really enjoying themselves with the interactive exhibits in the visitor centre. Most of the interactives were fairly simple, and low-tech but very effective and fun to play with. The first gallery we came to was entitled Pathways Through the Universe. The things that stood out for me was the large scale model of the different planets and a much up of the moon landing where you stood in the fo
otprints and messages from the original moon landings. I also thought the interpretation boards were very well designed. The titles were clear and all the important words and key facts were highlighted in bold type. The Planetarium We rushed off quickly from that gallery to see the Planetarium show. The planetarium is one of the attractions that is being scrapped in the refit. This is such a shame as it was probably the highlight of my visit. The 156 seater planetarium is in a big round dome with you looking up at the ceiling. The film pointed out the major stars and constellations in the winter sky as well as things like the planets, nebulas and comets. They also showed how astronomers map the sky. The technical term being Declination and Right Ascension The show lasted for 15 minutes and was enjoyable and informative. The next exhibition was on Sir Isaac Newton and light. There was one of those talking heads where the face of Isaac Newton was superimposed onto a dummy and there were various experiments to do with lights and prisms. There was also a laser experiment which I could not get near. The 3D Theatre The 3d theatre was the next thing we visited. We had great fun pretending to be Roy Orbison with the dark tinted 3d glasses. The film was on the sun and the solar system. Although it was interesting it recapped a lot of material from the first gallery and the planetarium. We were sat nearish the back and I really did not feel that I got the 3d effect that well. I would say as it costs £1 extra it is fine if you have the time but I would not say it is an essential part of the visit. The next galleries were a lot of fun. There was one to introduce the arbitorium. That was all about the properties of wood. There was a nice little handling game of different woods. However the names of the different trees underneath the wood were faded and were hard to read. This spoiled it a bit for me. There were also loads of xylo
phones. Perhaps they are looking for a new Patrick Moore now he is getting old!! The final gallery was my favourite. The interactives there were ultra simple but ingenious and effective. There was only one real high tech one which was scales that told you how much you would weight on the moon and also on Jupiter. I want to go to the moon as I am much lighter! There was an experiment with different cans to demonstrate weight on other plants. There were loads of experiments with gravity. There was the spinning chair to demonstrate gravity which was great fun. The experiments were marked with different symbols so children could look out for different things. On my exhibition design course we were told by an interactives designer that the interactives should be very simple and have an instant effect. The interpretation and instructions should also be simple. Actually the interactive should provoke the child to play with it and instinctively know what to do. The instructions also passed the Tilden Principle test as they certainly provoked the children into thinking. The Picnic Area and Outside Areas. Outside was lovely. There was plenty of grass for children to run around, and a great radio experiment for children to do. There were also picnic tables and a great up-close view of the Lowell telescope where you can see it moving with the motors. The Staff I think it was the staff that made the visit. They were polite and very knowledgeable and answered the many questions we had. They were also very good with the children. The Café. The café was shutting when we arrived there. There seemed to be a decent enough selection of sandwiches and light snacks along with drinks. I did not note the prices as I did not buy anything. For a slightly more substantial meal I would suggest the nearby Red Lion, which does tasty pub food. The Shop The signage for the shop was confusing but we eventually found it
. It sells mostly pocket money toys for children, little souvenirs and space posters along with a range of space themed books. There?s also a play park for the children to play in and there is the arbitorium with many different trees from all around the world which we did not have time to visit. Opening times 15 March 2003 to 31 August 2003 Open everyday 10.30 to 5.30. OPENING HOURS FROM 8TH SEPTEMBER Winter season. November to mid March Monday to Friday: 10.30 am to 3.00pm Saturday & Sunday: 11.00am to 4.30pm Summer season. Mid March to end of October Everyday 10.30am to 5.30pm. CLOSED: 22nd to 26th & 31st December 2003, plus Jan 1st 2004. Prices ADMISSION CHARGES UP TO 31 AUGUST 2003 Adults £5.00 Children £2.50 (under 4's free, but no admission to the Planetarium or 3D Theatre) Senior Citizens £3.50 Family Ticket £14.50, admits 2 adults and up to 3 children. Planetarium show £1.00 per person 3D Theatre show £1.00 per person Both shows £1.50 per person DMISSION CHARGES FROM 8TH SEPTEMBER Admission to site £3.00 per car (Pay and display parking) Admission to 3D theatre £1.00 per person. I think the centre is well worth a visit especially if you have children. They will love the interactices. I felt disappointed there was not more about the workings of the telescope. Perhaps tours of the observatory could be an option at certain times of the day. The signage was a little bit haphazard too. In the refit there are plans to have a 180 degree observation platform at the bottom of the main Lowell telescope. That would be fab. For a person who is not really into space I had a superb day out.
Wow, I love this place! I visited Jodrell Bank when I was about 8 or 9 on a school visit, I absolutely loved it! Whereas most of my friends found it "boring" I thought it was great! (I've always been into Science and Space though). The Jodrell Bank Science Centre is the visitor centre for the world famous Lovell Radio Telescope and the Jodrell Bank Observatory, the astronomy research centre of the University of Manchester. ~ History of Jodrell Bank ~ It was in 1945 when Bernard Lovell went to the University of Manchester to observe cosmic rays. A quiet observing site was required and the University's botanical station at a little known place called Jodrell Bank was the ideal location. The first observations were made in December 1945, and many echos were received. It soon became apparent that they were not due to cosmic ray particles entering the atmosphere but were instead echos from "shooting stars". Lovell and his students were able to show that many meteors are the dust particles released by a comet as it rounds the sun. (referred to parts of their website for bits of the above!) ~ Jodrell Bank Visitor Centre ~ The Science Centre encompasses eight exhibition galleries, a 150-seater Planetarium and the extensive grounds. Beside the massive Lovell Radio Telescope there are countless devoted "hands on" exhibits, including: "Hug a planet", "track the Sun", step onto astronaut's footprints, find Earth amongst the stars of the Milky Way, hear Einstein and Newton talk. Along with many many other exhibits, including: ~ Pathways through the Universe ~ This shows models and interactive displays enabling you to explore planets, the moon and galaxies. ~ Sir Isaac Newton and Light ~ Here Sir Isaac Newton explains the mysteries of the rainbow and the colourful universe.
~ How we find out about the Universe ~ Find out how astronomers of today use a range of instruments to reveal the visible and invisible wonders of the Universe. ~ The Physical Universe ~ This is the exhibition that is devoted entirely to hands-on exhibits. You can investigate light, forces (mainly gravity) and magnetism. ~ The Lovell Telescope and the Dawn of the Space Age ~ Learn about the history and construction of the second largest fully steerable radio telescope in the world - yes you've guessed it....the Lovell telescope! ~ The Earth, Sun, energy and the environment ~ Discover how our local star, the Sun, provides energy to support life on Earth and how stars fuel the Universe. A model Earth demonstrates the cycles of day, night and seasons. ~ The Imagery of Space ~ Discover how artists and scientists as observers of the natural world create images that both inform and inspire. Aswell as the "Hands on" activities on offer at Jodrell Bank there is also "Jodrell Bank Planetarium". You can look up and see a perfect, unpolluted night sky overhead (which lets face it, isn't something you get to experience unless you live in the middle of no-where!) Zoom in on the Sun, moons and stars, explore planets and galaxies and examine mysterious nebulae. I thought this was brilliant, it really really made me appreciate the over-all size of whats up-above! You can get in included in the admission price. You can see the show again if you want, however you have to pay the next time! After you've gazed and wondered about whats above our heads, chatted (well sort of!!) to Einstein and Newton you can then enjoy the Jodrell Bank nature experience. There are many trails and the natural habitats of the Arboretum's 35 acres and National Collections to explore. (Be warned, some of the planets are notoriously d
ifficult to find!) Jodrell Bank even have thier own Environmental Discovery Centre. Also, as with all, or most "Places of interest", Jodrell Bank have a Café and Shop. The café has a great view! It is overlooking the Lovell telescope - which makes for a different view from most café's! The shop has a wide selection of scientific books, resources, games, gifts and souveniers. (And if you're on a school visit you simply *must* buy either a pencil, rubber, sharpener, ruler, pencil case, pointless puzzles, marbles, sweets...etc!! [or was that just me!?]) Quite simply Jodrell Bank has to be the best school trip I ever went on! ~ So how much does it all det you back!? ~ Admission prices are: Adults £4.90 Children £2.50 (under 4's free, but no admission to the Planetarium) Senior Citizens £3.50 Family Ticket £14.50 Schools and Childrens Groups: Children £2.30 , one adult free with every seven children. Groups: 10 to 30: £3.40 31 to 40: £3.10 41+ £2.70 So its a bargain really!! This place has insipired me, ever since i've wanted to become a scientist, preferably do astrophysics, and i'm still wanting that! So who knows, it may give you inspiration to become the next Newton or Einstein!! *UPDATE* I've recently visited Jodrell Bank again! I went a few weeks back and it's as good as I remember it being! I now understand much more about the exhibits and "hands on" activities. However I have found one disadvantage with Jodrell Bank now i've been again. Although it is a long time since I went the first time around, from what I can remember, it hasn't really changed much, if at all. Most of the "hands on" things are the same as what I can remember doing 9-10 years ago. The only thing that has changed really is the planetarium show. Now it
focuses more on actually viewing the solar system with an average telescope rather than assuming we all have 20" telescopes nested at home. This could either be viewed as a good point or not. Personally I didn't think it was half as interesting purely because we cannot see that far ourselves. At least when they assumed we all had massive telescopes at home they venutured into deep space rather than pointing out the different constellations. All in all though it's still great! I should be updating this opinion again sometime within the next few months because the astronomy lecturer at college is organising a trip for the class and astronomy society. So I should be going again, this time however he's getting "back stage passes" so to speak seen as he knows people at Liverpool John Moore's Uni! *UPDATE #2* Well, as promised above, i'm back yet again to update this opinion. Although it is pointless me telling you all about that last trip i've been on because you won't all be able to do this (haha!). You can do if you like, but unless you are a member of some astronomy club you are going to have to folk out £50. If you are willing to do that then lucky you, you must have won the lottery! I will say though that if you do get the chance (i.e. if you are a member of any sort of astronomy group) then you really should try to go on these trips. We had to pay £2.50 each because there was 20 of us on the trip (that is the maximum number). You get a guided tour of the "behind the scenes" bits by a man who works there (note the fact that i've forgotten his name!). We spent about 4 hours there, he gave us talks on different things. It really was a good day out. Well worth the £2.50 (oh, plus the fact that I didn't have to pay the entrance fee... hehe!). In fact, this man who i've forgotten his name, is supposed to b
e coming down to my college to hold a talk on SETI (Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence) on one of the astronomy society meetings. But guess what? I'm afraid Jodrell Bank still hadn't changed at all last time I visited!
The main part of Jodrell Bank is the famous Lovell telescope and the entire theme of the exhibits are science and in particular the planets. It has the largest planetarium outside London and the show is very good. You are not looking at the real sky (obviously) but it is like looking at the sky on the clearest possible night. The shows in the planetarium are every 45 minutes. There are some exhibitions on mans flight to the moon and of the planets in our solar system. There are a couple of model figures of Albert Einstein and Sir Isaac Newton to explain some of the physics in the exhibition. I am not a fan of these things as they always look pretty naff to me. Anyway the physics bit is OK but could be made a bit more interesting. To be honest I’ve seen better science exhibits than this at places like the Manchester Science museum in Castlefield. Its not all science inside and as Jodrell Bank is set in a lovely wooded area you can visit its own Environment Centre. Here you can learn about the interaction of science and nature as well just stroll around the grounds and have a picnic. Jodrell Bank has a café with the usual snacks and sandwiches. Its OK but has the feel of a garden centre. Jodrell Bank is situated on the A535 off Junction 18 of the M6. Admission costs £4.60 for adults and £2.30 for children, for senior citizens it costs £3.30. As the tour of the science bit including the planetarium takes 2 to 3 hours plus your visit to the gardens its not bad value. It would appeal to those with young children more particularly if they have an interest in science, fact or fiction.