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New weekender: Mysteries of the Universe, Cheshire, England

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29 September to 1 October 2023 -  £959

No single supplements.

Spend a weekend with some of the brightest minds in science, as you explore the mysteries of the universe in an exciting programme that includes an excursion to UNESCO World Heritage Site Jodrell Bank to see the iconic Lovell telescope. Set in a delightful 4-star hotel, over this weekend you will enjoy a series of fascinating lectures that will cover the Big Bang through to the James Webb Space Telescope, enjoy star gazing with New Scientist’s Abigail Beall and remotely operate an Australian telescope to explore Southern hemisphere skies.

On this weekender, you’ll hear from leading astronomers, astrophysicists, and cosmologists, who will teach you about galaxy forming, the latest research into black holes and what iconic telescopes have already revealed. 

Jodrell Bank, located near Manchester, has been at the forefront of a revolution in our understanding of the Universe for over 75 years, from the discovery of black holes to the search for extra-terrestrial intelligence.

The weekend will be hosted by Abigail Beall, New Scientist’s features editor and astronomer. She will guide you through naked-eye stargazing at night. Additionally, you can explore the southern-hemisphere skies through a remote astronomy demonstration that connects with a telescope in Australia.

You’ll stay in the charming Grade II listed DeVere Cranage Estate Hotel with a friendly group of fellow science enthusiasts. This experience is ideal for solo guests and there is no single supplement if you are a solo traveller.

This weekender is designed for anyone interested in astronomy or cosmology. It is suitable for all levels of experience, from beginners to serious stargazers.


Arrive in the afternoon, where you will be able to check into your room at the stunning Cranage Estate, a historic hotel with a Grade II listing. 

You will then join the group and New Scientist’s Abigail Beall, who will introduce you to the weekend ahead and the first of several talks with scientists who will share amazing stories behind their work and the achievements of other telescopes and observatories. The first talk is an overview Jodrell Bank and some of the pivotal achievements in its history.

The evening continues with drinks and dinner with your fellow guests and the New Scientist team. Then weather permitting, we will venture outside for some naked-eye star gazing led by Abigail.


After an early breakfast, you will take a twenty-minute coach journey to Jodrell Bank, who will be providing a visit to their galleries, exhibitions and grounds alongside the iconic Lovell Telescope, and a walking tour to the historic ‘south side’ of its site, the original heart of the observatory in the 1940s and 1950s.

Once back at the Cranage Estate, we’ve lined up the following fascinating afternoon talks:

  • The James Webb Space Telescope – Emma Curtis-Lake, University of Hertfordshire.
  • Black Holes – Prof Jeff Forshaw, University of Manchester.
  • Radio Astronomy – Prof Anna Scaife, University of Manchester and Head of the Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics Interferometry Centre of Excellence.

Later in the evening, you can continue the conversation with drinks with our speakers, before dinner and a chance to do some more stargazing, guided by Abigail (weather permitting).


After a more leisurely breakfast, we’ve got a packed morning of talks and demonstrations. 

You’ll hear all about:

  • How galaxies form – Prof Christopher Conselice, University of Manchester.
  • The Square Kilometre Array – Dr Laura Wolz, University of Manchester.
  • Manchester’s first satellite – Dr Nicholas Crisp, University of Manchester.

After lunch, we’ll wil connect via a live link up with a remote telescope in Australia hosted by Chris Baker from Galaxy On Glass, where we are hoping to have clear weather, to see the sights of the southern skies. 

We’ll wrap the three days with a closing discussion with the speakers, hosted by Abigail, before you boldly go back to your home planet.

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Tucked away in a peaceful corner of Cheshire this Grade II listed four-star rural retreat is near the charming village of Holmes Chapel. It has both indoor and outdoor restaurants, comfortable meeting rooms for our event, a heated pool, gym, steam room and tennis courts.

Outdoors there are 20-acres of attractive gardens with views across the Cheshire countryside and Jodrell Bank is within 5 miles of the hotel.

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For those wanting to extend their time in and around Lancashire, you are welcome to arrive a few days early or stay a few more days and enjoy the beautiful countryside around Cheshire or visit Manchester and its many scientific sites including the Science and Industry Museum. This can be arranged for an additional fee.


Full event notes will be issued a few weeks prior to the event but feel to drop us a line at with your questions.

If you have a query

Email us

If you have a query

Email us


  • Hear from leading experts in astronomy, cosmology and space science.
  • Live link up with remote telescope in Australia to view the southern hemisphere night skies
  • Meet New Scientist Staff, space experts and fellow New Scientist readers.
  • Private tour of Jodrell Bank.
  • Stay at the beautiful, Grade II listed Cranage Estate.
  • Dinner and drinks with your fellow experts and guests.

Meet the expert

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Host: Abigail Beall is a writer and features editor for New Scientist, where she also writes a monthly astronomy column. In 2019, Abigail wrote and published The Art of Urban Astronomy and has also co-written three popular science books for Dorling Kindersley. She has helped New Scientist readers explore the night skies over Norway and will shortly be accompanying Discovery Tours to Australia and Chile for astronomy, observatory visits and the 2023 total solar eclipse. (Pictured above at the Vera C. Rubin Observatory).

In addition, Abigail is a physics, technology and environment journalist whose work has appeared in Wired, BBC Science Focus and BBC Future.

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Emma Curtis Lake is an STFC Webb fellow based at the University of Hertfordshire. She studies galaxy evolution in the early Universe and is part of a team with over 800 hours of time booked with the Webb telescope.

Chris Baker is an astrophotographer with a focus on ‘deep sky objects’. Interested in astronomy since the 1970s, Chris has set up remote telescopes in Spain and more recently Australia, allowing him to capture the southern hemisphere skies in ideal clear sky conditions for sale via his company Galaxy on Glass. In addition, Chris analyses ‘exo-planet’ data, which are planets orbiting stars other than our sun.

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Jeff Forshaw is a particle physicist with a special interest in quantum chromodynamics (QCD): the study of the behaviour of subatomic particles. He uses data from particle accelerators such as HERA, Tevatron and Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN.

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Christopher Conselice is an astrophysicist and Professor of Extragalactic Astronomy at the University of Manchester. He is an expert on the properties and evolution of galaxies and has researched galaxies from the local universe all the way back to the first galaxies.

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Laura Wolz is a Presidential Fellow (Academic) at the University of Manchester in the Astronomy and Astrophysics Theory Group. Laura has worked on Neutral Hydrogen Intensity Mapping (H i IM) surveys which will be a powerful new probe of cosmology.

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Nicholas Crisp is a Lecturer in Aerospace Engineering at The University of Manchester. He has a PhD and is a Chartered Engineer (CEng) and Member of the Royal Aeronautical Society (MRAeS). His areas of expertise include Orbital Aerodynamics and Satellite System Design.

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Anna Scaife is a Professor of Radio Astronomy at the University of Manchester and Head of the Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics Interferometry Centre of Excellence. Her research focuses on the origin and evolution of large-scale cosmic magnetic fields . She is also working on AI for discovery in data-intensive astrophysics as part of her Turing AI Fellowship. In this era of big data astrophysics, the use of machine learning to extract scientific information is essential to successfully utilise facilities such as the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) telescopes.


  • A full programme of talks and demonstrations.
  • Two nights’ accommodation with no single supplements.
  • Two breakfasts, two lunches and two three-course dinners. The dinners will be in a private dining area exclusive to New Scientist. (Please advise in advance if you have dietary requirements).
  • Tea, coffees, soft drinks and pastries throughout the event.
  • Naked-eye stargazing session (subject to weather).
  • Jodrell Bank tour including transport to and from the site.
  • Fully instruction pack two weeks before the event.
  • 24-hour onsite support.
  • Onsite parking.
  • Access to heated indoor pool, gym and steam room.


  • Travel insurance.
  • Transport to the venue.
  • Additional snacks, drinks and alcohol.
  • Additional nights’ accommodation. Thursday and Sunday night available.


The talks will be held in a private conference room with comfortable seating. 

The naked-eye stargazing will be subject to weather and will take place in the hotel grounds. A torch, stout footwear and warm clothing is recommended for this activity.

We will provide transport in comfortable coaches to Jodrell Bank, where a walking tour around the site will take place, lasting approximately an hour as well as a film presentation in an indoor seated pavilion. Some of the walking tour is on grass, so remember to wear your outdoor clothes from the night before.

Children are welcome but must be twelve and over. Please bear in mind that the level of the talks and activities are aimed at adults.


De Vere Cranage Estate is easily accessible. 

The hotel is minutes away from junction 18 of the M6 motorway. The postcode is CW4 8EW.

The nearest train station is Goostrey which is just 15 minutes train ride from the mainline station at Crewe. From Goostrey to the hotel is just 2.4 miles and a local taxi service is available. Alternatively, you can alight at the mainline stations of Crewe or Macclesfield, both of which are 20 minutes by taxi.