Can an observatory stand alongside epic sites like the Taj Mahal and the Great Barrier Reef? Well, Britain’s most famous observatory – the Jodrell Bank has been nominated as UK candidate for UNESCO’s World Heritage Site.
Scientists have been searching for signals from the skies for over 60 years at Britain’s Jodrell Bank observatory, making it one of the most recognised scientific places across the country. Only yesterday, we realised that this observatory could actually become world’s most important places after the Cheshire observatory bided for nomination as World Heritage Sites recognised by UNESCO. If selected, the Jodrell Bank will stand alongside India’s Taj Mahal and Australia’s Great Barrier Reef as one of the most important places on earth.
Why is it so important? Well, because it is home to the 60-year-old Lovell Telescope, which dominates the site, was the world’s largest steerable telescope when it was completed in 1957. The observatory, which opened in 1945, has played an important role in the research of meteors and cosmic rays, and was heavily involved with the tracking of space probes at the start of the Space Age. Since the Lovell Telescope in particular has become an icon for science and engineering, the team at Jodrell believes that it would showcase the rich scientific heritage of this and the wider site on an international stage.
But it takes a lot to become a World Heritage Site because they don’t randomly pick any place; it has to be having cultural or physical significance considered to be of ‘outstanding universal value.’ And Jodrell Bank is the one remaining radio astronomy site, worldwide which dates from the early days, so it is very important that we protect and celebrate the physical record of our involvement in the creation of a new science. Let’s see what UNESCO thinks.