With photos of Pluto in the news these days, a visit to the Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre is just the thing to spark the imagination about what exists in outer space. A group of us went last weekend, ages 4 to 70+, and we all enjoyed what was on offer. It cost £42.50 (£5.00 for concessions and £6.80 for adults without Gift Aid) for seven of us. There are also family tickets you can purchase and yearly memberships. The parking is free and there is a bike shed. We saw many cyclists throughout the day taking a break in the café.
When you arrive you are given a wristband to wear so you can leave your picnic lunch in your vehicle and eat at one of the picnic areas then return to the exhibits and the gardens in the afternoon. To prevent interference, all visitors are asked to turn cell phones onto airplane mode or turn them off. Older children can follow a trail and answer questions about what they see and collect a sticker at the end.
We took a picnic and ate at one of the picnic areas just outside the indoor picnic area which, although it was supposed to be open, was closed. If you do not want to take lunch with you, there is a very nice café where we had a drink in the afternoon and the food looked very good. We sat outside on the terrace with the Lovell Telescope in our sights.
Like most exhibits and museums, it is the type of place to which you can return again and again and learn something new each time as there is so much information to absorb. The first thing to catch your eye, of course, is the Lovell Telescope as it can be seen for miles around. There are a number of buildings around the telescope with information and hands-on displays about the planets and their moons, supernovas, black holes, etc. I now know what a black hole is and why it is so heavy! Another interesting part is a number of little videos of various staff members talking about their jobs at the centre and at the University of Manchester. One of the fun activities is the Whispering Dishes where you can experiment with sound waves – whisper into the dish and your partner at the other dish can hear you even though you are very far apart.
When you have absorbed all the information you can, there are 35 acres of grounds to explore as well. There is a playground, gardens and open meadows for everyone to let off some steam. The Galaxy Garden consists of seven smaller gardens that reflect the development of our solar system. It is also built based on conservation principles of the centre and the hill in the middle of the garden consists of the soil from the foundations of the new exhibit buildings.