📷 The Princess Royal paid a visit to Jodrell Bank yesterday to commemorate the prestigious UNESCO World Heritage Status awarded to the Jodrell Bank Observatory in 2019.
👑 Her Royal Highness was warmly welcomed by Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell, the President and Vice-Chancellor of The University of Manchester, before being introduced to esteemed guests, academics, and dignitaries from the University, the Observatory, and Cheshire East.
🌟 Professor Teresa Anderson, the Director of Jodrell Bank Centre for Engagement, and Professor Tim O’Brien, the Associate Director of Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics, expressed their gratitude to The Princess Royal for her visit. They also discussed the decade-long process of achieving UNESCO status and their joy in being the first research Observatory to receive this recognition.
🔭 Professor Mike Garrett, the Director of Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics, provided an introduction and overview of the telescope’s significance. The Princess Royal then had the privilege of operating the iconic Lovell Telescope, under the attentive gaze of the gathered academics and telescope controllers. She also learned about a previous visit to the Observatory by The King, when he was Prince of Wales, in 2003.
🌍 Professor Philip Diamond, the Director-General of the SKA Observatory, explained the unique importance of Jodrell Bank serving as the international headquarters for the SKAO. As a global intergovernmental organization with partners from 16 countries and telescopes in South Africa and Australia, the SKAO’s presence at Jodrell Bank is fitting for the birthplace of radio astronomy, now acknowledged for its global significance by UNESCO.
🏞️ After signing the visitors book in the Control Room, Her Royal Highness proceeded to the newly constructed First Light Pavilion at Jodrell Bank Centre for Engagement. With the assistance of the National Lottery Heritage Fund, this Pavilion was inaugurated in 2022. It features a Space Dome and the award-winning permanent exhibition, ‘Story of Jodrell Bank.’ The Princess Royal met with exhibition staff, admired the surroundings, and marveled at the architecture.
🌳 A visit to Jodrell Bank by a member of the Royal Family would not be complete without the ceremonial planting of a tree in the orchard. Professor Rothwell addressed the attendees, and then Her Royal Highness was invited to plant a sapling apple tree, cultivated from a seed of great significance. The pip originated from the ‘Flower of Kent’ apple tree in Sir Isaac Newton’s Lincolnshire garden, which is said to have inspired his Theory of Gravity. The pip had also been taken aboard the International Space Station as part of Astronaut Tim Peake’s mission in 2016, making it one of only eight ‘Space Saplings’ grown in the UK.
🎓 Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell, the President and Vice-Chancellor of The University of Manchester, expressed her honor in welcoming Her Royal Highness to Jodrell Bank Observatory. She highlighted the university’s bicentenary celebration this year and the institution’s commitment to world-leading research and inspiring the next generation of scientists. The UNESCO recognition will further solidify Jodrell Bank’s reputation as a center of excellence and a source of inspiration for many.
💬 Professor Teresa Anderson, the Director of Jodrell Bank Centre for Engagement, stated that The Princess Royal’s visit showcased the observatory’s exceptional work in engaging new audiences with science and heritage. It also highlighted the remarkable achievements in astrophysics and space exploration. They were thrilled to celebrate the UNESCO status with Her Royal Highness and expressed their gratitude for her ongoing support.