Pioneering British astronomer Lovell dies

Aug. 7, 2012 at 3:17 PM   |   0 comments

MANCHESTER, England, Aug. 7 (UPI) -- Pioneering British astronomer Bernard Lovell, who turned from World War II radar work to radio astronomy, has died, the University of Manchester announced.

Lovell, the founder of the University's famed Jodrell Bank Observatory, was 98, the BBC reported.

Born in Gloucestershire in 1913, attended the University of Bristol before joining the University of Manchester's Department of Physics in 1936.

For his work developing radar technology during the way Lovell was named to Order of the British Empire.

After the war he returned to Manchester and began planning the observatory, including a 250-foot Lovell Radio Telescope, which was named in his honor.

It was completed in 1957, just in time to track the rocket carrying Russia's Sputnik 1 into orbit.

It remains the third largest steerable telescope in the world and plays a key role in global research on pulsars, testing physics theories including Einstein's general theory of relativity.

For the telescope and his other contributions to radio astronomy Lovell was knighted in 1961.

A spokesman for the university said Lovell "retained a keen interest in the development of science at Jodrell Bank and beyond."

"Indeed he continued to come in to work at the Observatory until quite recently when ill health intervened," the spokesman said.

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