Stargazers Take On Great Manchester Run

Great Comeback 2

Entries are open for the Great Manchester Run at greatrun.org/manchester

Space is not quite the final frontier for astronomers from the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) Organisation at Jodrell Bank in Cheshire, who are set to boldly go where lots of men and women have been before!

These stargazers from the headquarters of the world's biggest radio telescope are taking on the challenging mission of the Great Manchester Run on Sunday, May 22.

On that day, the scientists working on an exciting pioneering project that will delve deep into the early history of the universe will not be reaching for the stars. 

Instead, on their radar will be the finish line at the 10k event, now in its 14th year and set to attract another bumper entry of up to 40,000 runners. 

The field includes a 17-strong team from the SKA project, which has its global headquarters in the shadow of the giant Lovell Telescope at Jodrell Bank Observatory. 

Rather than employing one enormous dish, the SKA will draw on more than 200 smaller dishes and 130,000 antennae spread across South Africa and Australia to create a collecting area of over one square kilometre. Construction is due to begin in 2018. 

Project engineers will build a radio telescope far more sensitive and faster at mapping the Universe than today's best observatories, surpassing even the power of the Hubble Space Telescope.  

Astronomers aim to find out the answers to some of the biggest questions in space, including probing the early universe, testing the theory of gravity and even searching for alien life.  

Joe Diamond, SKA Outreach and Events Assistant, said: "The SKA project is a great international team effort and some of our staff suggested we enter a team in the Great Manchester Run as a way of relaxing away from the work environment. 

"Our runners include scientists, engineers and administrative staff who have come from all over the world, including places such as Australia, South Africa and across Europe, to work on the SKA. 

"Staff often go on training runs in the quiet countryside during their lunch breaks and another big advantage to our location is that we're so near to Manchester where we work closely with the University of Manchester."

The SKA team, which is raising funds for various charities, are among more than 160 companies which have already entered the Great Manchester Run Business Challenge. 

To enter the Great Manchester Run on Sunday, May 22, visit greatrun.org/Manchester

To find out more about the SKA go to skatelescope.org