Thursday 18th and Saturday 20th of July brought Space Workshops to our Education Centre! Four sessions saw over 60 young people aged 7-14 learn about the moon and our place in the solar system. Topics ranged from the size and scale of the planets, to moon phases and crater creation. The workshops were organised to coincide with the 50th Anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing and were a great success. Workshops are now running every Friday at 2.30pm in the I-LOFAR Education Centre, starting from last Friday 26th of July, which saw even more young people learning about our place in the universe! The next workshop is on Friday 2nd August and is free for visitors in the castle grounds. Registration at the main reception in the courtyard is recommended.
Also on Saturday July 20th was the Birr Castle Moon Landing Projection on the wall of the Leviathan Telescope. With over 250 people in attendance it was an excellent opportunity to give tours of the history of astronomy at the Demesne. Between four tours Áine, Jane and I spoke to over 150 people, comparing 19th Century engineering at the Leviathan with the 21st Century technology of I-LOFAR. Unfortunately overcast skies meant public observations with the Midlands Astronomy Club optical telescopes were not possible, however the rain held off for the barbecue and projection. A musician set the tone for the evening barbecue in the courtyard, while the recently renovated Science Centre was open for attendees. Mary Field’s dark room, thought to be the oldest intact dark room in the world, now contains her ‘hologram’ speaking about her work as a pioneering photographer in the 1800s. Field was the wife of the Third Earl of Rosse, and they worked as a team to develop the science and engineering history that now exists at the castle. The moon landing projection conveyed the true challenge for the engineers and scientists at NASA to get men to the moon in 1969. President Kennedy’s famous ‘we choose to go to the moon’ speech was shown, along with the launch of the Saturn V rocket, and the moment Neil Armstrong first stepped on the moon.
Keep an eye out for our next blog about the IAU 100 exhibit coming to Birr!