The evening started with a short report by Jim Mehta of our recent visit to Mill Hill Observatory. After coffee, Prof. Ian Morison gave us a fascinating talk on “The Story of Jodrell Bank“. The first instrument at Jodrell Bank was an ex-army radar set up by Bernard Lovell in a corner of the Manchester University Botanical Grounds in late 1945. Lovell used this instrument to prove that sporadic echos observed on radar instruments were caused by reflections from the ionised trails of meteors. From this humble beginning, Jodrell Bank went on to become one of the major radio astronomy establishments in the world. A position the observatory maintains today with it’s envolvement in Merlin. With an effective aperture of 217 kilometres Merlin has a resolution greater than 20 times that of the best ground based optical telescopes. That’s equivalent to measuring the diameter of a pound coin on the cliffs in Dover from the top of Shooters Hill
Ian’s fantastic delivery style, combined with the knowledge that only comes from someone who was there made for an engaging discussion. Did you know, when they electrified the nearby railway line, Jodrell Bank was taken into account to reduce radio noise from the trains?