English radio astronomer, director 1951-81
of Jodrell Bank Experimental Station (now Nuffield Radio Astronomy Laboratories).
During World War II Lovell worked on developing a radar system to improve
the aim of bombers in night raids. After the war he showed that radar
could be a useful tool in astronomy, and lobbied for the setting-up
of a radio-astronomy station. Jodrell Bank was built near Manchester
1951-57. Although its high cost was criticized, its public success after
tracking the Soviet satellite Sputnik I 1957 assured its future.
Lovell was born in Gloucestershire and studied at Bristol. His academic
career was spent at Manchester, where he became the first professor
of radio astronomy 1951.
In 1950, Lovell discovered that galactic radio sources emitted at a
constant wavelength and that the fluctuations ('scintillation') recorded
on the Earth's surface were introduced only as the radio waves met and
crossed the ionosphere.
His books include Radio Astronomy 1951 and The Exploration of Outer