Sir Bernard Lovell, pioneer of Jodrell Bank, dies at 98

Tributes to designer of legendary British telescope and 'inventor' of modern astronomy

Sir Bernard Lovell, the father of British radio-astronomy whose name will forever be associated with the famous Jodrell Bank Observatory in Cheshire, died on Monday at the age of 98.

Sir Bernard was the first director of Jodrell Bank, where he designed and built what was then the world's largest steerable radio-telescope, a 76m-wide device now known as the Lovell Telescope. It was completed in 1957 for what at the time was considered a controversial cost of £700,000. His critics were assuaged, however, when within days of its opening the telescope tracked the Soviet rocket launching Sputnik, the first man-made satellite.

During the Second World War, Sir Bernard led the team that developed the first ground-scanning radar used on RAF aircraft and later, on return to the University of Manchester, deployed some of the same equipment to build his first radio-telescope for detecting cosmic rays from deep space.

In late 1945 he brought his equipment out to the university's botany field site at Jodrell Bank, where he eventually founded the world famous observatory for radio-astronomy, a field he popularised for the public.

"He was a pioneer of radio-astronomy and almost invented the subject. He built the leading telescope and that radio study of the sky has contributed a vast amount to our understanding of the Universe," said Professor Brian Cox, the TV physicist.

One of the most intriguing episodes in Sir Bernard's life could now emerge following his death. In 2009, he claimed to have survived an assassination attempt during a visit to the Soviet Union in 1963 but insisted his account of the affair should only be published after his death.

Sir Bernard claimed that he had suffered radiation sickness as a result of being bombarded by a Russian radio-telescope during an official visit to a military facility on the Black Sea.

"They tried to remove from my memory the fact that they had taken me to their own defence nucleus on the Black Sea coast, because they did now want news of what they had brought back to this country," he said in a 2009 TV interview.

Lord Rees, the Astronomer Royal, said Sir Bernard was a great visionary leader in science whose experience in the war gave him the confidence to "think big": "He had the boldness and self-confidence to conceive a giant radio telescope, and the persistence to see it through to completion"

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Talent Manager / HR Manager - central London - £50,000

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Talent / Learning & Development Mana...

HR Manager (standalone) - London

Up to £40,000: Ashdown Group: Standalone HR Manager role for an SME business b...

HR Analyst - Banking - Bristol - £350-£400

£350 - £400 per day: Orgtel: HR Analyst - Banking - Bristol - £350 - £400 per ...

HR Manager - HR Generalist / Sole in HR

£30000 - £35000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Manager - HR Generalis...

Day In a Page

Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone
Amazon is buying Twitch for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?

What is the appeal of Twitch?

Amazon is buying the video-game-themed online streaming site for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?
Tip-tapping typewriters, ripe pongs and slides in the office: Bosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder

How bosses are making us work harder

As it is revealed that one newspaper office pumps out the sound of typewriters to increase productivity, Gillian Orr explores the other devices designed to motivate staff
Manufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl records

Hard pressed: Resurgence in vinyl records

As the resurgence in vinyl records continues, manufacturers and their outdated machinery are struggling to keep up with the demand
Tony Jordan: 'I turned down the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series nine times ... then I found a kindred spirit'

A tale of two writers

Offered the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series, Tony Jordan turned it down. Nine times. The man behind EastEnders and Life on Mars didn’t feel right for the job. Finally, he gave in - and found an unexpected kindred spirit
Could a later start to the school day be the most useful educational reform of all?

Should pupils get a lie in?

Doctors want a later start to the school day so that pupils can sleep later. Not because teenagers are lazy, explains Simon Usborne - it's all down to their circadian rhythms
Prepare for Jewish jokes – as Jewish comedians get their own festival

Prepare for Jewish jokes...

... as Jewish comedians get their own festival
SJ Watson: 'I still can't quite believe that Before I Go to Sleep started in my head'

A dream come true for SJ Watson

Watson was working part time in the NHS when his debut novel, Before I Go to Sleep, became a bestseller. Now it's a Hollywood movie, too. Here he recalls the whirlwind journey from children’s ward to A-list film set
10 best cycling bags for commuters

10 best cycling bags for commuters

Gear up for next week’s National Cycle to Work day with one of these practical backpacks and messenger bags
Paul Scholes: Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United

Paul Scholes column

Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United
Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?