Radio astronomy is the study of radio emission from celestial objects. With wavelengths ranging from 10m to a few millimetres, radio emission is produced by a diverse range of objects from our own Galaxy and beyond, including local planets, local stars, galaxies and quasars near and far as well as the relic cosmic microwave background. Many phenomena in the Universe show up best in one part of the electromagnetic spectrum and sometimes little, if at all, in others. Radio astronomers have discovered many exciting objects and events in the Universe which had not been suspected before, simply because they are invisible at optical wavelengths.
The Cavendish Laboratory pioneered radio astronomy under the direction of Professor Sir Martin Ryle from 1945 to 1982. In 1957, the Mullard Radio Astronomy Observatory (MRAO) was built 8 kilometres south-west of Cambridge, at Lord’s Bridge, through the generosity of Mullard Limited. The work of the MRAO was recognised by the award of the 1974 Nobel Prize for Physics to Professor Ryle and to Professor Antony Hewish - the first time that a Nobel Prize had been awarded for astronomical research. The Cavendish Laboratory operates the Observatory with support from the Particle Physics & Astronomy Research Council (PPARC).
The Mullard Radio Astronomy Observatory doesn’t fall within the scope of Subterranea Britannica’s research. As the site the observatory occupies the former Lords Bridge Air Ammunition Park we have included a selection of photographs of the extant radio telescope aerial arrays and associated structures which we hope will be of interest.