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Work on meteors at Jodrell Bank: Getting started


Relations with Charles Husband are restored
Bernard Lovell Astronomer
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I had already mentioned that in... 1957, 1958 the enormous debt that we were faced with and the troubles with the public accounts committee, and the abrupt change of deep friendship for the deep, deep enmity between Husband and myself. I... I am delighted to say that that turned out to be entirely superficial because as soon as the... the White Paper was published, in which Melville had apologised for giving false information, the... the difficulties between Husband and myself immediately disappeared, and our... our collaboration continued in the design and use of... of other telescopes, which I've talked about. In fact, he... he was quite an ambitious sailor, and he had converted a fishing trawler to about a 40 foot yacht and he once had an island off the south west coast of Ireland and he said, 'Well', I said, 'I'm just going to... to the island for a holiday', so he said, 'Well, why don't I take you in my yacht?'

So we set off from Cornwall on a Sunday evening, and it happened to be the time of the rather great Fastnet races, and the... the forecast was not good, and... and before we were halfway, we were just past the Scilly Isles, the... the seas became horrendous, and Husband, who was quite an experienced sailor, estimated them to 24ft waves, and we eventually survived. He... he was a good navigator, but we had intended to... to go round the Fastnet Rock on to the... the bay in which my island was, Bantry Bay, but... but two hours after we should have reached the Fastnet Rock, Husband said, 'Ah, yes, there it is at last', and I said, 'No, Husband, that is not the Fastnet, that is the bay and unless we turn east, we shall soon be in mid-Atlantic'. The navigation was so poor in those days. The GPS did not exist and not been thought of. Anyhow, so our relations were restored immediately. Unfortunately, he is no longer living. He... he died and his firm, in fact, has... has disintegrated. It was bought over. It was for a time carried on by one of his sons, but it was then assimilated into another organisation.

Bernard Lovell (1913-2012), British radio astronomer and founder of the Jodrell Bank Observatory, received an OBE in 1946 for his work on radar, and was knighted in 1961 for his contribution to the development of radio astronomy. He obtained a PhD in 1936 at the University of Bristol. His steerable radio telescope, which tracked Sputnik across the sky, is now named the Lovell telescope.

Listeners: Alastair Gunn Megan Argo

Alastair Gunn is an astrophysicist at Jodrell Bank Observatory, University of Manchester. He is responsible for the coordination and execution of international radio astronomical observations at the institute and his professional research concerns the extended atmospheres of highly active binary stars. Alastair has a deep interest and knowledge of the history of radio astronomy in general and of Jodrell Bank in particular. He has written extensively about Jodrell Bank's history.

Megan Argo is an astronomer at the University of Manchester's Jodrell Bank Observatory researching supernovae and star formation in nearby starburst galaxies. As well as research, she is involved with events in the Observatory's Visitor Centre explaining both astronomy and the history of the Observatory to the public.

Tags: Public Accounts Committee, Cornwall, Isles of Scilly, Fastnet Rock, Atlantic Ocean, Charles Husband, Harry Melville

Duration: 3 minutes, 16 seconds

Date story recorded: January 2007

Date story went live: 05 September 2008