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Google Earth Plug-in: Jodrell Bank Observatory

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The Jodrell Bank Observatory (originally the Jodrell Bank Experimental Station, then the Nuffield Radio Astronomy Laboratories from 1966-1999) is located near Congleton, Cheshire in the northwest of England. The observatory is part of the University of Manchester and has played an important role in the research of quasars and pulsars. In 1979, scientists at Jodrell Bank announced the first detection of a gravitational lens, which confirmed one of Einstein's theories.

The observatory was established in 1945 by Dr. Bernard Lovell, who wanted to investigate cosmic rays after his work on radar in World War II. One of the telescopes of the observatory honours his name. The first radio telescope was built in 1947, but the famous "Mark I" telescope, at the time the largest steerable dish radio telescope in the world, 76.2 m (250 ft) in diameter, was constructed in the mid 1950s, becoming operational in the summer of 1957, just in time for the launch of Sputnik 1, the world's first artificial satellite. Jodrell Bank was the only installation in the world able to track Sputnik's booster rocket by radar, and the fame and income this brought in enabled the considerable construction debts to be paid off.

In February 1966, Jodrell Bank tracked the USSR unmanned moon lander Luna 9 and listened in on its facsimile transmission of photographs from the moon's surface. The photos were sent to the British press and published before the Soviets themselves made the photos public.

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