Sunday, September 16, 2007

Save room for popcorn

The Bad Astronomy Blog reports that Jodrell Bank will be turning the Lovell radio telescope's 76-meter dish into a giant movie screen as part of the telescope's 50th anniversary celebration--or "golden jubilee," as they say across the pond. From the press release:

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.

It's all part of the British National Space Centre's Space 50, a celebration of the "first 50 years" of the UK's role in space exploration and research. Sure, 1957 seems like a sort of arbitrary "birthday," but it marks the launch of the first Skylark rocket, a science payload delivery vehicle which was in use through 2005; Lovell's first light; and the launch of Sputnik 1--the Soviet satellite that was the first artificial object to orbit the Earth. (Scientists at Jodrell Bank actually hooked up a transmitter to the Lovell dish and tracked Sputnik's carrier rocket about a week after it launched.)

There is a full slate of events planned, including everything from the usual lectures to a yacht race to the Stubble Space Telescope, which defies my pedestrian American understanding but which must fill the same niche the Corn Palace fills on this side of the Atlantic.

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