News & Events

Jodrell Bank opens new Discovery Centre

07 April 2011

JB Discovery Centre
The Planet Pavilion at the new Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre.
Image Credit:University of Manchester

The world-famous Jodrell Bank Observatory has ushered in a new era with the opening of its spectacular live science Discovery Centre.

Part of The University of Manchester, the Observatory has for many years been a much-loved visitor attraction, as well as a significant Astronomy research centre.

The site has recently been shortlisted for World Heritage Site status, and now can welcome thousands more visitors every year.

The £3m project includes a new entrance building – the Planet Pavilion – and a new Space Pavilion for exhibitions and events.

It also includes a stylish glass-walled cafe with spectacular views of the iconic Lovell telescope, an education space and landscaping of the gardens.

Its main aim is to inspire young scientists and connect them to cutting-edge research as it happens.

The project has been made possible by an investment of £1.9m by the Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA) and £1m from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) in the Northwest. An additional £600,000 of funding will come from The University of Manchester.

The opening caps a spectacular few months for Jodrell Bank and the University. As well as the UNESCO shortlisting, it was announced this week that the headquarters of the Square Kilometre Array – the world’s largest telescope – will be based at Jodrell Bank.

Dr Teresa Anderson, the Centre’s Director, said:

'We’re delighted that our new Centre is opening bang on schedule and that it will be such a great experience for visitors. We’re really looking forward to welcoming lots of new people to Jodrell Bank in the next few months and years.'

Dr Tim O’Brien, Reader in Astrophysics at the University of Manchester, said:

'This is a great day for Jodrell Bank. The new Centre showcases the live science that happens here with new exhibitions focused on some of the big questions we’re trying to answer about the Universe.'

Nick Brook-Sykes, NWDA’s Director of Tourism said:

'Jodrell Bank is already an icon in the Northwest and a visitor attraction in its own right, but it has the potential to attract many more national and international visitors to the region. This investment will help create a richer, more inspiring visitor experience which is more fitting to this beacon of science and research.'

David Malpass, Director of European Programme at the NWDA, added:

'Investment in Jodrell Bank is essential to ensure the Northwest maintains its reputation as a leader is astronomy research – testament to the site being shortlisted for World Heritage Site status. I’m delighted to see the Discovery Centre open and hope visitors take the opportunity to visit this fascinating attraction, which contributes so much to the region’s tourism portfolio.'

The Centre opened to the public on Monday 11 April and its new website is

Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre

The Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre was designed and constructed by the following team:

Jodrell Bank Observatory

Jodrell Bank Observatory (JBO) is part of the University of Manchester's School of Physics and Astronomy. Scientists and engineers at Jodrell Bank are world leaders in radio astronomy-related research and technology development.

JBO hosts e-MERLIN, the UK’s national radio astronomy facility, on behalf of the Science & Technology Facilities Council (STFC). The e-MERLIN array of seven radio telescopes (including the iconic 76-metre Lovell Telescope at Jodrell Bank Observatory) stretches 217 km across England from Jodrell to Cambridge. Recently installed optical fibre links have made e-MERLIN one of the first of the world’s next generation of ultra-sensitive telescopes and a precursor to the Square Kilometer Array (SKA).

The research programme at the Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics which includes JBO, ranges from the discovery of planets orbiting other stars to the study of the origin of the Universe in the Big Bang. The Jodrell group are also working on SKA science, pulsars in particular, and technological developments in antennas, data transport, synchronisation and digital signal processing.

Recognising its pioneering work in radio astronomy and its contribution to revolutionising our view of the Universe, Jodrell Bank Observatory was recently included on the UK Tentative List for World Heritage Site status.


The Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA) works to deliver economic success in England’s Northwest by building the competitiveness of its businesses, people and places. Utilising our technical expertise and strategic influence, we help the region’s 250,000+ businesses to develop and grow, as well as supporting international trade and encouraging inward investment.

ERDF in the Northwest

The European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) is making a real difference to people and businesses in the Northwest. With €755 million to invest between 2007 and 2013, ERDF is enhancing the competitiveness of the region’s economy by supporting growth in enterprise and employment. ERDF in the Northwest is managed by the Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA).

For Jodrell Bank media enquiries contact:

Daniel Cochlin
Media Relations
The University of Manchester
0161 275 8387