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Glyndŵr University discusses link-up with Jodrell Bank


Photo: Scientists from Glyndŵr University and Jodrell Bank Observatory discuss a potential new astronomy experiment at Northop.

Talks are underway which could see Glyndŵr University linking up with experts from the iconic Jodrell Bank Observatory for a new astronomy experiment. 

Scientists from both organisations have been in discussions over the possibility of siting experimental astronomy equipment on land at its Northop campus.

The experiment is centred around a new project called the L-band All Sky Survey (L-BASS), a new method of mapping radio signals from the universe, which is being developed by a team from the University of Manchester’s Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics. 

Professors Peter Wilkinson and Ian Browne from the centre met with Glyndŵr University’s Dean of Arts, Science and Technology, Professor Peter Excell, for initial discussions about the project.

Professors David Walker and Paul Rees from Glyndŵr University’s St Asaph research centre also outlined Glyndŵr’s involvement with leading-edge astronomy through their work on developing precision optics for the world’s biggest telescope. 

Both are leading the way in a project to build prototype mirrors for the E-ELT, a £900 million telescope which will be 39 metres in diameter and gather 15 times more light than the largest telescopes around today.

Professor Excell said: “The link with Jodrell Bank was initiated by Professor Neil McEwan, who undertook his PhD research there and has now been appointed as a Professor in Glyndŵr University’s Department of Engineering and Applied Physics. 

“These first discussions with Professors Wilkinson and Browne were extremely positive. The complementary nature of the astronomy interests of the two organisations was noted and it is hoped that links in this field will develop further in the future.”

The Jodrell Bank Observatory was established in 1945 by University of Manchester radio astronomer Sir Bernard Lovell. 

Sir Bernard and Professor Excell shared a common interest in the work of Nobel prizewinner Sir Edward Appleton and had collaborated on Appleton memorial events in the past. 

Jodrell Bank’s Lovell Telescope, completed in 1957, is one of the most powerful radio telescopes in the world and an internationally renowned landmark in the world of astronomy.

Scientists polishing mirrors for the E-ELT at Glyndŵr University St Asaph this year achieved a world-first, ground-breaking milestone. The E-ELT will in many ways be the optical equivalent of the Lovell telescope in size and significance.

Led by Project Manager Tony Fox-Leonard, the team announced in October that they have met ESO’s (European Southern Observatory) “extremely challenging” specifications for the European-Extremely Large Telescope project.

From their base on St Asaph Business Park, the group is now discussing collaboration with potential project partners across the globe with a view to participate in a £200m contract to produce all of the segments required for the telescope’s primary mirror.

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