New space at Birr Castle will advance astronomical education

AstroLands will stage space camps and workshops

Prof Peter Gallagher watches on as guest of honour astrophysicist Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell admires Lord Rosse’s tie – inspired by Van Gogh’s Starry Night, which drew inspiration from the galaxies discovered using the giant telescope at Birr Castle in the 19th century. Photograph: Jeff Harvey

Prof Peter Gallagher watches on as guest of honour astrophysicist Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell admires Lord Rosse’s tie – inspired by Van Gogh’s Starry Night, which drew inspiration from the galaxies discovered using the giant telescope at Birr Castle in the 19th century. Photograph: Jeff Harvey

 

The Low Frequency Array radio telescope at Birr Castle, known as I-LOFAR, has contributed significantly to international space research since it was installed in 2017.

Building on that success, a refurbished education centre was opened recently and the Astronomical Midlands Schools and Public Engagement Programme was launched.

I-LOFAR head Prof Peter Gallagher of Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, says: “AstroLands will open new conversations with groups that have had little involvement with science, technology, engineering and maths using this unique new facility at Birr. This is a wonderful opportunity to carry forward the rich scientific heritage of Birr . . . and inspire the next generation of scientific explorers.”

The initiative was made possible with the support of Trinity College Dublin, Birr Scientific & Heritage Foundation, the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and Offaly County Council.

Funded by Science Foundation Ireland’s Discover Programme and the European Space Education Resource Office, AstroLands will create an engaging, inspirational and multi-use space in the I-LOFAR Education Centre, stage day-long and week-long space camps, and workshops for upper primary and lower secondary school teachers based around the National Junior Certificate themes of earth and space.