Tributes paid to astronomer Sir Bernard Lovell
ONE of Bristol's most celebrated academics has died at the age of 98.
Scientist Sir Bernard Lovell, who has a school named after him in Oldland Common, died on Monday.
He is survived by four of his five children, 14 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren.
A few years ago Sir Bernard was named as one of the greatest astronomers of all time – close behind Galileo and Isaac Newton.
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One of his greatest achievements was setting up the famous Jodrell Bank radio telescope which helped scientists explore outer space.
He is well-known in his field as a leader in radio astronomy, and carried out important research on cosmic rays and radar systems.
Born in Oldland Common in 1913 Sir Bernard studied physics at the University of Bristol, obtaining his doctorate in 1936.
Having moved to Manchester University, he worked in the cosmic ray research team there until the outbreak of the Second World War.
He worked for the TRE radar agency during the war, developing systems to be installed in aircraft.
In 1946, he received an OBE, and after the war he set up a radio telescope at the Jodrell Bank observatory outside Manchester. With university funding he constructed the then-largest steerable radio telescope in the world, which now bears his name: the Lovell Telescope.
In 1961 he was knighted for his important contributions to the development of radio astronomy.
In 2002, he visited the school named after him to open a new arts centre, returning for the first time since opening the school in 1972.
University of Bristol professor of cosmology and astrophysics Mark Birkinshaw knew Sir Bernard.
"He was a leader of the radio development during the Second World War," Prof Birkinshaw said.
"In terms of getting money for radio astrology his detection of the Sputnik signals really put Jodrell Bank on the map and convinced both scientists and the military that they had to do something in this area.
"He demonstrated that from the earth we could check up on what was going on in space. But his real passion was radio stars and understanding the mechanics that cause instability on the magnetic fields of stars.
"Outside of that he was very interested in cricket and music but was a genuinely curious scientist."
Sir Bernard was Manchester University's Emeritus Professor of Radioastronomy. In a statement, the university said his legacy was "immense" and added that he was a great man who will be sorely missed.
Sir Bernard began working with engineer Sir Charles Husband to build the Lovell telescope in 1945 and it has since become a symbol of British science and engineering, and a landmark in Cheshire.
A hugely ambitious project at the time, the telescope was by far the world's largest when it was completed in 1957 and within days tracked the rocket that carried Sputnik 1 into orbit, marking the dawn of the space age.
Last year, Jodrell Bank Observatory was placed on the UK Government's shortlist for World Heritage Site status.
A Book of Condolence was opened at the Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre and an online version is available. Funeral arrange- ments will be announced later.