Jodrell Bank, the world’s earliest radio astronomy observatory, has been nominated for World Heritage status.
Jodrell Bank Observatory
Jodrell Bank Observatory is part of the University of Manchester, and has been nominated by the United Kingdom for designation as a Unesco World Heritage site, starting in 2019, according to Heritage Minister Michael Ellis.
ITV reports that the Jodrell Bank Observatory, based in Cheshire, was founded in 1945 and is home to the Grade 1 listed Lovell Telescope – pioneering the exploration of the universe using radio waves. According to Mr Ellis, “It has played a central role in transforming human understanding of the universe, and is a site of global importance.”
The World Heritage list is home to some of the most significant landmarks on the planet. If Jodrell Bank were to be approved as a heritage site, it would join the Great Barrier Reef, the Great Wall of China, the Grand Canyon and other noteworthy locales around the world. While a comparison to the Great Wall of China seems like it might be big shoes for the Jodrell Bank Observatory to fill, the fact remains that the location was a significant part in our modern understanding of the universe. While perhaps not as beautiful or vibrant as the Great Barrier Reef, it’s an important part of our heritage as a civilization and marks one of the first major steps towards expanding our view outwards into the far reaches of observable space.
ITV reports that the Jodrell Bank Observatory, if approved, would join 31 other natural and cultural sites in the UK alone, ranging from the Giant’s Causeway and Stonehenge to the Tower of London and Blenheim Palace. Jodrell Bank is the only site worldwide that contains evidence of every stage of the development of radio astronomy post-1945, and as such is a perfect picture into our history of modern space discovery.
Historical and Scientific Significance
In addition to the Lovell Telescope mentioned above, Jodrell Bank also features the Grade I listed Mark II telescope as well as the Park Royal building that served as the control room for the Transit Telescope – the same telescope that detected radio waves from the Andromeda galaxy and confirming that the universe exists beyond our current galaxy.
According to Mr Ellis, “The nomination process for Unesco is rightly thorough but I believe Jodrell Bank deserves to be recognised. The diverse heritage of the UK is world renowned and the observatory would be a worthy addition to our list of World Heritage Sites.”
By recognizing the significance of Jodrell Bank Observatory, the World Heritage list would be home to another site of significant historical significance and scientific advancement. As a small building with a large insight into our progress towards modern space study, it’s important that we recognize how far we’ve come since the field’s start in 1945.