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UK Mullard Radio Astronomy Observatory, Cambridge - April 2016

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History

Radio interferometry started in Cambridge in the mid-1940s, with funding provided by Mullard Limited and the Science Research Council. Mullard Radio Astronomy Observatory, which is located at Lord’s Bridge, Cambridgeshire, was founded by Sir Martin Ryle, an English radio astronomer, and was opened by Sir Edward Victor Appleton, an English physicist, in 1957. Altogether, the entire site comprises several large aperture synthesis radio telescopes; some of these include the ‘one-mile telescope’, the ‘5km Ryle Telescope’ and the ‘Arcminute Microkelvin Imager’.

The site this report is based on; an active telescope, is known as the AMI Large Array (the antennas of the Archminute Microkelvin Imager Large Array). This section of the facility is made up of ‘eight 12.8 metre diameter, equatorially mounted parabolic antennas’ (whatever that means) which were formerly part of the Ryle Telescope. Each of the antennas are separated by distances which range between 18 and 110m. This particular piece of equipment, including all of the antennas, was built by the Cavendish Astrophysics Group. It was designed to study galaxy clusters ‘by observing secondary anisotropies in the cosmic microwave background arising from the Sunyaev-Zel’dovich (SZ) effect’… which obviously makes perfect sense to us laypeople. In other words, then, the AMI array is used to observe radiation, particularly that with frequencies between 12 and 18 GHz. The telescopes can, therefore, be used to determine the masses and temperatures of certain known galaxy clusters. We could go on, seeking more answers about the universe, electrons, kinematic effects, cosmic microwave background radiation and inverse Compton scattering, but my knowledge acquired from the internet is dwindling fast…

Our Version of Events

Now for something a little more understandable. It was raining heavily as we approached Cambridge, so heavy in fact the rain was bouncing off the road as if it were hailstone. This didn’t stop us from noticing, and quickly admiring, those tidy thatched roofed houses you folk have down below our northern borders mind. We realised, of course, that we can only dream of such things as we rolled through the various quaint villages of Cambridgeshire in our small sort-of-orange-coloured three door wader-smelling Toyota.

After driving past it twice – quite clearly the low lying cloud must have obscured our visibility – we eventually spotted the Mullard Observatory from the roadside. Wasting no more time we peddled our beasty little orange machine into a grassy verge as fast as we could. It was too slight and slender to sink in the mud, and bold enough for other drivers to notice, so we concluded we were fine to park there. From the road, though, we faced our biggest challenge of the day: a gruelling field crossing. Normally us Northerners are used to a bit of farmland, but we found these flat Southern plains incredibly flat and wet. Our trainers squelched loudly as we plodded through mud and rather large puddles which are conspicuously missing in all our photographs. “This wouldn’t happen in our fields” we grumbled to one another; we understand the concept of a hill. All in all it was a miserable experience.

Eventually we reached the other side of the very flat field. We’d battled the elements and had paid the price. We were soaking. With nothing left to lose we made our way up to the fence line of the observatory and, ignoring the CCTV signs and other terrifying deterrents, found a way into the site to seek shelter beneath the giant dishes. At that point in time I was less impressed that these structures can detect cosmic radiation, I was simply thankful they’re shaped a little like giant umbrellas. We tried out best to grab a few decent shots, but decided to leave again after ten minutes due to the weather. Originally we had intended to have a wee climb up a couple of the antennas. At the time, however, our decision was unanimous: “fuck that shit”. There was none of our usual fannying around on our return to the car; for once we arrived somewhere earlier than we’d anticipated. And that, then, concludes our twenty minute stop off in Cambridge: it’s wet, muddy, flat, has nice thatched rooves and a sweet observatory.

Explored with Ford Mayhem, Box and Husky.


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2 hours ago, WildBoyz said:

in our small sort-of-orange-coloured three door wader-smelling Toyota.

 

I'm really feeling like I'm there. 

 

2 hours ago, WildBoyz said:

Our trainers squelched loudly as we plodded through mud and rather large puddles which are conspicuously missing in all our photographs. “This wouldn’t happen in our fields” we grumbled to one another; we understand the concept of a hill. All in all it was a miserable experience.

 

 Yeah definitely getting a feel for this now

 

2 hours ago, WildBoyz said:

And that, then, concludes our twenty minute stop off in Cambridge: it’s wet, muddy, flat, has nice thatched rooves and a sweet observatory.

 

Yeah, I have a feeling it wasn't the best day out for you guys. :grin:

 

Either way, well done for mustering the energy to bother posting a report on it, given how miserable the experience was, I suppose you need to enshrine it somewhere so you remember this day. 

 

Cambridgeshire isn't THAT bad, my uncle lives there, but it is flat. Very flat. And it does flood lots. :D  

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Shame about the weather m8ty. But them dishes are nice and thanks for taking the time to post and for getting pissed wet through for it. 

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3 hours ago, Maniac said:

 

I'm really feeling like I'm there. 

 

 

 Yeah definitely getting a feel for this now

 

 

Yeah, I have a feeling it wasn't the best day out for you guys. :grin:

 

Either way, well done for mustering the energy to bother posting a report on it, given how miserable the experience was, I suppose you need to enshrine it somewhere so you remember this day. 

 

Cambridgeshire isn't THAT bad, my uncle lives there, but it is flat. Very flat. And it does flood lots. :D  


Haha, thanks for your comment. Glad I was able to pull you into the story :thumb 

Nah, we liked Cambridge really ;) I was under the impression that it was sunny down this end of the country. I will remember this day for many years to come I think :)

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28 minutes ago, coolboyslim said:

Shame about the weather m8ty. But them dishes are nice and thanks for taking the time to post and for getting pissed wet through for it. 


Cheers mate. They were larger than we expected. Good for shelter in the rain :thumb

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Its a good site, i was there a couple of months back, once at midnight and once early morning, raining both times but some good shots to be had there, i will go back for the bunkers later in the year :) 

 

:comp:

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12 hours ago, Lenston said:

Its a good site, i was there a couple of months back, once at midnight and once early morning, raining both times but some good shots to be had there, i will go back for the bunkers later in the year :) 

 

:comp:


Not something you expect out in the English countryside is it. Sounds like it rains a lot down there :P

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6 hours ago, DirtyJigsaw said:

Ive seen pics of these afew times, I really like your shots. Nicely written report too


Thanks mate :thumb Appreciate the comment. 

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They're certainly impressive to look at and amazing what they can do too. Pics came out sweet despite the gloomy weather

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10 hours ago, The_Raw said:

They're certainly impressive to look at and amazing what they can do too. Pics came out sweet despite the gloomy weather


Thanks :thumb Never seen anything like it, so they were definitely impressive. 

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You had no luck with the weather. But I think the gray color and the rain are looking good with the dishes.

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On 4/26/2016 at 1:33 PM, Andy said:

You had no luck with the weather. But I think the gray color and the rain are looking good with the dishes.


They do fit rather well with the weather now I come to think about it :D 

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