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Jodrell Bank opens new Discovery Centre

07 Apr 2011

The world-famous Jodrell Bank Observatory has ushered in a new era with the opening of its spectacular live science Discovery Centre.

The dazzling new Planet Pavilion

Part of The University of Manchester, the Observatory has for many years been a much-loved visitor attraction, as well as a significant Astronomy research centre.

The site has recently been shortlisted for World Heritage Site status, and now can welcome thousands more visitors every year.

The £3m project includes a new entrance building – the Planet Pavilion – and a new Space Pavilion for exhibitions and events.

It also includes a stylish glass-walled cafe with spectacular views of the iconic Lovell telescope, an education space and landscaping of the gardens.

Its main aim is to inspire young scientists and connect them to cutting-edge research as it happens.

The project has been made possible by an investment of £1.9m by the Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA) and £1m from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) in the Northwest. An additional £600,000 of funding will come from The University of Manchester.

The opening caps a spectacular few months for Jodrell Bank and the University. As well as the UNESCO shortlisting, it was announced this week that the headquarters of the Square Kilometer Array – the world’s largest telescope – will be based at Jodrell Bank.

Dr Teresa Anderson, the Centre’s Director, said: “We’re delighted that our new Centre is opening bang on schedule and that it will be such a great experience for visitors. We’re really looking forward to welcoming lots of new people to Jodrell Bank in the next few months and years.

Dr Tim O’Brien, Reader in Astrophysics at the University of Manchester, said: ‘This is a great day for Jodrell Bank. The new Centre showcases the live science that happens here with new exhibitions focused on some of the big questions we’re trying to answer about the Universe.’

Nick Brook-Sykes, NWDA’s Director of Tourism said: ‘Jodrell Bank is already an icon in the Northwest and a visitor attraction in its own right, but it has the potential to attract many more national and international visitors to the region. This investment will help create a richer, more inspiring visitor experience which is more fitting to this beacon of science and research. ‘

David Malpass, Director of European Programme at the NWDA, added: “Investment in Jodrell Bank is essential to ensure the Northwest maintains its reputation as a leader is astronomy research – testament to the site being shortlisted for World Heritage Site status. I’m delighted to see the Discovery Centre open and hope visitors take the opportunity to visit this fascinating attraction, which contributes so much to the region’s tourism portfolio.

The Centre opened to the public on Monday 11 April and its new website is www.jodrellbank.net.