LOFAR Minecraft – LOFAR Enters the Virtual Universe

LOFAR Minecraft

Fionn (11) and Luke (8) Teeling-Gallagher have been busy building an international LOFAR radio telescope in Minecraft. Click on the movie above to learn all about how it works. 

STREAM Creative Suite funded by Enterprise Ireland

A consortium including the Local Enterprise Office (LEO) Offaly, Offaly County Council and I-LOFAR has been awarded €458,240 from the Enterprise Ireland Regional Development Fund to establish “STREAM Creative Suite” in Birr Technology Centre.

Orla Martin, Head of Enterprise in LEO Offaly explained that STREAM Creative Suite will be a natural extension to the I-LOFAR Project. The I-LOFAR radio telescope, situated in Birr Castle, is the Irish Station in the largest radio telescope in the world. There are 52 LOFAR Stations across Europe, generating 3 Gbps per station, over 150 Gigabits per second, more than 6 Petabytes per year.

Therefore, I-LOFAR provides a unique opportunity to access big data in real time. This data can be utilised for training purposes and for proving algorithms for many sectors. Professors and researchers of universities affiliated with the international LOFAR network together with Software Developers and Data Analysts from companies operating within or in cooperation with companies based in the Midland Region will have the opportunity to use the STREAM Creative Suite – either through regular hot desk usage or through the establishment of a base there.

The space will comprise an open plan work area for researchers, a training room and smaller office spaces. The programme will also include a residential/visiting researcher programme, support for workshops, summer internships, and training in Data Analytics and related topics. The funding will also support the salary costs of a manager who will be hired for 3 years to run the suite and develop future activities.

The Creative Suite will bring together researchers and practitioners in areas such as the visual arts, multi-media, technology and astronomy, who share a common interest in Big Data.

Offaly County Council Cathaoirleach Cllr. Danny Owens welcomed the news and acknowledged the collaborative efforts those who made the successful application: Offaly County Council’s Chief Executive, Ms. Anna Marie Delaney; Head of Enterprise, Ms. Orla Martin; Prof. Peter Gallagher, I-LOFAR Consortium and Mr. Joe Hogan, Founder of Openet.

The STREAM Creative Suite has been developed by the Local Enterprise Office Offaly, Offaly County Counciland I-LOFAR and is supported by Enterprise Ireland’s Regional Development Fund.

The Astronomical Midlands: Engaging Rural Communities with Astronomy

We are delighted to launch a new engagement project in 2019 – the Astronomical Midlands or AstroLands for short – that uses the recently constructed Irish Low Frequency Array (I-LOFAR) and Education Centre at Birr Castle to connect with students, teachers and members of the public in rural communities in the Midlands.

Astronomical Midlands, funded by Science Foundation Ireland Discover Programme, will embark on three key initiatives:

o Space4Exploration: Create an engaging, inspirational and multi-use space in the I-LOFAR Education Centre.

o Space4Students: Launch day-long and week-long space camps at the Education Centre that run during school term and school holidays for students aged 10 to 14.

o Space4Teachers: Create CPD workshops for upper primary and lower secondary school teachers based around the National Junior Certificate themes of Earth and Space.

Astronomical Midlands is overseen by our Project Manager, Aine Flood and Project Scientist Prof Peter Gallagher.  We will also recruit “Astronomical Ambassadors” to interact with visitors to Birr and to deliver space camps and teacher workshops.

Astronomical Midlands will open new conversations with groups that have had little involvement with STEM using our unique facility at Birr. Our project will allow people in the Midlands to discover opportunities for further education and careers in STEM and inspire the next generation of scientific explorers.

Astronomical Midlands is go for launch from February 2019!