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Visit to Mullard Radio Astronomy Observatory

May 12 @ 11:00 am - 1:00 pm

One antenna of the One-Mile Telescope at the observatory

One antenna of the One-Mile Telescope at the observatory

A return visit has been arranged to the Mullard Radio Astronomy Observatory of the Cavendish Laboratory, University of Cambridge, on Saturday 12th May. The radio observatory is situated on the Lord’s Bridges site a short distance from Cambridge, on the A603, about ½ mile outside the village of Barton (see location) and is the site of several historic and working radio telescopes (Mullard Radio Astronomy Observatory). The tour will be given by Peter Doherty, a faculty member, starting at 11am and last for approximately 2 hours. It involves some walking and in May good shoes would be an advantage.

The observatory was opened by Sir Edward Appleton on 27 July 1957. The construction of the One-Mile and subsequently the 5-Km Radio Telescopes by Martin Ryle and his colleagues at Lord’s Bridge in the early sixties opened up the study of the astrophysics of Galactic and extragalactic radio sources providing supporting evidence for the Big Bang Theory of the Universe. The great success of these radio telescopes gave the Cavendish Laboratory a world-leading position in radio astronomy and contributed to Ryle’s knighthood in 1966, and his appointment as Astronomer Royal in 1972. It was to be some years before other radio observatories were able to compete with and eventually surpass the capabilities of these telescopes. This began to take place in the late 1970s with the commissioning of the Very Large Array in New Mexico in the USA.

In 1965 Antony Hewish designed a large array to measure the velocity of the Solar Wind, the 4.5 acre array project. He was joined by Jocelyn Bell as a graduate student in October 1965. The radio telescope was commissioned at Lord’s Bridge during July 1967. Using this array the first discovery of a rapidly pulsating radio source, or pulsar, CP 1919 was made by Bell on 6 August 1967.

Ryle and Hewish were jointly awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1974.

The limited number of car parking spaces on the Lord’s Bridge site means that we are having to limit the size of the visiting group to around 20 Flamsteed members, assuming car sharing arrangements can be made to maximise the number of members per car. If you are interested in taking part in this visit then can you please click on the booking link below, giving details on whether you can offer or would require a lift.

Event Location: Mullard Radio Astronomy Observatory, Lords Bridge, Barton, Cambridge, CB3 7EX (on A603, 2.3 miles from Junction 12 of the M11 heading away from Cambridge towards Sandy). Assemble at the Car Park near the entrance to the MRAO site, near the Lecture Theatre and Ryle Telescope Control Room.

Please do not book a place on this event if you are not a member of the society. Your booking will be cancelled if your name does not appear on our membership database.


Mullard Radio Astronomy Observatory
Lord's Bridge, Barton
Cambridge, CB3 7EX United Kingdom