British astronomer Bernard Lovell dies at 98

Aug 07, 2012 by SHAWN POGATCHNIK
This Thursday Oct. 4, 2007 file photo shows founder of the Jodrell Bank Observatory Sir Bernard Lovell addressing guests at an event on the 50th anniversary of space travel, in Macclesfield, England. Pioneering British physicist and astronomer Bernard Lovell died, Monday Aug. 6, 2012. He was 98. Lovell was founder of England's Jodrell Bank Observatory and creator of its Lovell radio telescope. (AP Photo/Jon Super, File)

(AP) — Pioneering British physicist and astronomer Bernard Lovell, who developed one of the world's largest radio telescopes exploring particles in the universe, has died. He was 98.

The University of Manchester, where Lovell was emeritus professor of radioastronomy, said he died Monday in his home with many of his family members at the bedside. The cause of death was not announced.

"He was a towering figure, not just in Manchester or the UK, but globally," said Dame Nancy Rothwell, president and vice chancellor of the University of Manchester.

Lovell was founder of England's Jodrell Bank Observatory and creator of its massive 250-foot-wide (76-meter-wide) radio telescope that has borne his name since 1987.

But three decades earlier, the half-built telescope was in danger of being mothballed because it had cost far too much to develop. Lovell credited the Soviet Union's Oct. 4, 1957, launch of Sputnik, the world's first artificial satellite, with saving his project.

Lovell's was the only Western device able to pinpoint and track Sputnik's booster rocket, a technology of grave Cold War concern to the West.

The rocket, Lovell recalled in a 2007 interview with The Associated Press, "was the world's first intercontinental ballistic missile and fortunately on Oct. 4, 1957, it carried a small piece of harmless scientific equipment. It could have carried a bomb."

Lovell also led an important World War II research project that developed the world's first radar system for scanning the ground. The H2S radar technology was used on British bombers from 1943 onward to identify ground targets at night and low visibility.

He is survived by four of his five children, 14 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren. Funeral arrangements were not announced.

Explore further: Bright points in Sun's atmosphere mark patterns deep in its interior

5 /5 (1 vote)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Bill seeks to allow astronauts to keep space souvenirs

Mar 12, 2012

A dispute between NASA and former astronauts over ownership of space artifacts has led to a bill in Congress that would give the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo astronauts "full ownership rights" to items such as checklists and ...

University helps map the universe

Sep 19, 2007

The University of Manchester is developing high-speed data crunching technology that will be crucial to the success of one of the greatest scientific projects of the 21st century.

Apollo 13 checklist part of space artifacts auction

Nov 23, 2011

A notebook containing Apollo 13 commander James Lovell's handwritten calculations to guide the damaged spacecraft back to Earth is being auctioned along with other artifacts from the 1970 mission.

Space Image: Sputnik 1

Oct 05, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- On Oct. 4, 1957, Sputnik 1 successfully launched and entered Earth's orbit. Thus, began the space age.

Recommended for you

SpaceX launches supplies to space station (Update)

10 hours ago

The SpaceX company returned to orbit Friday, launching fresh supplies to the International Space Station after more than a month's delay and setting the stage for urgent spacewalking repairs.

Sun emits a mid-level solar flare

10 hours ago

The sun emitted a mid-level solar flare, peaking at 9:03 a.m. EDT on April 18, 2014, and NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory captured images of the event. Solar flares are powerful bursts of radiation. Harmful ...

Impact glass stores biodata for millions of years

13 hours ago

(Phys.org) —Bits of plant life encapsulated in molten glass by asteroid and comet impacts millions of years ago give geologists information about climate and life forms on the ancient Earth. Scientists ...

The importance of plumes

13 hours ago

The Hubble Space Telescope is famous for finding black holes. It can pick out thousands of galaxies in a patch of sky the size of a thumbprint. The most powerful space telescope ever built, the Hubble provided ...

Ceres and Vesta Converge in Virgo

16 hours ago

Don't let them pass you by. Right now and continuing through July, the biggest and brightest asteroids will be running on nearly parallel tracks in the constellation Virgo and so close together they'll easily ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Impact glass stores biodata for millions of years

(Phys.org) —Bits of plant life encapsulated in molten glass by asteroid and comet impacts millions of years ago give geologists information about climate and life forms on the ancient Earth. Scientists ...