The Secret History of Jodrell Bank
The Lovell Telescope at Jodrell Bank was the largest radio telescope in the world when it was completed in 1957. October 1957 also marked the start of the space race and the telescope was used to track the launch rocket of Sputnik 1, the first artificial satellite. This Soviet rocket was a re-purposed inter-continental ballistic missile and of course immediately attracted the attention of the western powers. Tim will tell the story of how this led to the involvement of Jodrell Bank in a range of clandestine activities, working closely with GCHQ, spying on the Soviet Union’s activities in space. A story which has only recently been declassified.
Professor Tim O’Brien is a Professor of Astrophysics and an Associate Director of Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics at The University of Manchester.
He has published around 150 research papers, mainly on the study of thermonuclear explosions on white dwarf stars in binary systems. He has used a wide range of telescopes around the world and in space, including the e-MERLIN radio telescopes operated from Jodrell Bank, X-ray satellites, the Hubble Space Telescope and the Very Large Telescope in Chile. Recently, he has been busy studying the aftermath of the explosion in August 2021 of his favourite star, RS Ophiuchi.
Tim was a co-founder of bluedot and in 2023 will be talking about some recently declassified work undertaken by Jodrell Bank during the Cold War.