News & Events

SPACE50: Jodrell Bank Telescope To Become Largest Cinema Screen On The Planet

15th August 2007

This October, Jodrell Bank Observatory will present a unique spectacle as the iconic Lovell radio Telescope briefly becomes the largest cinema projection screen in the world!

The event marks the golden jubilee of the Lovell radio Telescope and the dawn of the Space Age, and kicks off two weeks of celebrations called the 'First Flight Festival'. During the show, the huge dish of the Telescope will act as a giant video screen displaying images of early space exploration, astronomy, engineering, the history and future of radio astronomy and the construction of the Lovell telescope itself. These spectacular moving images will be combined with music and a specially-commissioned light and laser show. Dr Alastair Gunn, the Production Manager for the event, said, 'the overall effect should be quite breathtaking. With a screen that size, the audience will be completely immersed in sound and light. We're hoping to make the projected image at least 150 foot tall, twice the biggest IMAX screen in the world.'

The Lovell radio Telescope at Jodrell Bank became operational in October 1957 and its very first use was to track the carrier rocket that launched Sputnik 1, the world's first artificial satellite. Hence, the Telescope's golden jubilee also marks fifty years of the Space Age. Jodrell Bank was heavily involved in the early exploration of space, tracking both US and Russian space probes. In fact, the Telescope received the very first pictures transmitted from the far side of the Moon in 1959, and the first pictures from the surface of the Moon in 1966. The University of Manchester is hosting numerous events throughout 2007 to celebrate this golden jubilee. The existing 50th anniversary programme involves a series of educational and cultural events that will use the celebration as a springboard to look to the future of engineering and science in the UK. See Find out more about other events to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the dawn of the Space Age at

The scientific legacy of the Lovell Telescope is also impressive. It was crucial in the discovery of 'quasars' - the most distant and energetic objects in the Universe. In the 1970s, observations with the Telescope led to the discovery of a new class of object - known as 'gravitational lenses' - first predicted by Albert Einstein almost a century ago. The event will also celebrate the scientific achievements of the Lovell Telescope, as well as astronomy in general, with spectacular imagery of the cosmos.

The event this October, called 'SPACE50' to commemorate this important landmark in human development, marks the culmination of Jodrell Bank's jubilee celebrations. The event is produced by radio astronomers at the University of Manchester's Jodrell Bank Observatory, through funds allocated by the Royal Academy of Engineering 'Ingenious' grants programme and Swinton Group Ltd. The Royal Academy of Engineering 'Ingenious' grants programme, funded by the Office of Science and Innovation within the DTI, offers funding to promote open debate and dialogue between citizens and engineers on engineering issues of public interest and concern. See The Hot Spot Pavilion at Jodrell Bank Observatory is funded by a grant from the Science & Technology Facilities Council.

Bookings. This event will take place on Friday 5th October and Saturday 6th October 2007 at Jodrell Bank Observatory, Macclesfield, Cheshire SK11 9DL. Doors open at 7.30pm and showtime is at 8.30pm. Tickets (priced 12 and 10 for concessions) are available from the Jodrell Bank Visitor Centre (tel. 01477 571339) or Jodrell Bank Observatory (tel. 01477 571321).

This is an outdoor event and no shelter will be available for the audience. Seating is not provided but the public will be permitted (within reason) to bring their own picnic rugs and/or fold-away chairs for the occasion. The organisers reserve the right to disallow any such equipment within the audience enclosure. The Jodrell Bank Visitor Centre bar will be open during the event but visitors are permitted to bring their own refreshments. Motion of the Lovell Telescope is restricted by the wind conditions. The organisers cannot therefore guarantee that the show will proceed in high winds. Refunds will be available on presentation of valid tickets should the show be cancelled due to weather. Please note that some strobe lighting and lasers will be in operation during the show.


Dr Alastair Gunn
Production Manager
Jodrell Bank Observatory
Tel: 01477 571321

Dr Tim O'Brien
Head of Outreach
Jodrell Bank Observatory
Tel: 01477 571321

left image right image
Images of the Lovell radio Telescope at Jodrell Bank Observatory.
Left image credit: I. Morison (JBO)
Right image credit: A. Holloway (JBO)