Heritage hot spots History, nature, art, environment
Blackrock Castle Observatory
What is it?Blackrock Castle Observatory is a “watchtower of the skies”, a research observatory and interactive science centre that hosts exhibitions and other public events.
Why visit?One reason is to see Cosmos at the Castle, a multimedia exhibition that takes visitors on a tour of the universe using interactive cinema-sized screens and individual touchscreens.
The castle itself dates back to the late 16th century, when a tower was built to guard the approach to Cork from pirates and raiders. The tower later helped to guide ships to and from the port.
Why now?Blackrock Castle Observatory hosts regular open nights and exhibitions that celebrate the fusion of art and science through astronomy. For example, it hosts free child-friendly workshops and public lectures on the first Friday evening of each month.
Next Friday these will include a lecture at 8pm by Dr Robert Hill of the Northern Ireland Space Office, based at Armagh Planetarium, and stargazing (weather permitting) at 9pm with Cork Astronomy Club.
You can also watch footage of Curiosity, the Mars Rover, as it explores the red planet, and learn about the life and achievements of Neil Armstrong, the first man on the moon, who died last month.
There will also be events during World Space Week (from October 4th to 10th), whose theme this year is space for human safety and security.
How do I get there?The observatory is by the River Lee on Castle Road in Blackrock, about a 10-minute drive from central Cork. The 202 bus service to Blackrock brings you within five minutes’ walk of the centre.
It is open from Sunday to Friday, 10am to 5pm, and on Saturdays and bank holidays from 11am to 5pm. Admission costs €6 for adults and €4 for students, senior citizens and children; under-fives free; tel: 021-4357917, bco.ie.