Institute of Physics Award for Joe McCauley

Congratulating to the Technical Lead for I-LOFAR, Mr. Joe McCauley, on being awarded an Institute of Physics Technical Skills Award 2021. Congratulations Joe!

The Technical Skills Awards celebrate the contributions that Technicians make to physics, and recognise employers that demonstrate their commitment and contribution to scientific and engineering apprenticeship schemes.

Short citation

For his outstanding technical leadership associated with the planning, construction and operation of the Irish Low Frequency Array (I-LOFAR) radio telescope at Birr Castle.

Long citation

Mr. Joe McCauley is a Senior Experimental Officer at Trinity College Dublin and Technical Lead for the Irish Low Frequency Array (I-LOFAR; at Birr Castle in Ireland. He has shown exemplary technical leadership in all aspects of the I-LOFAR project.

Mr. McCauley was instrumental in the planning and construction of I-LOFAR. These were challenging technical tasks that involved preparation of planning applications, extensive civil ground works, management of contractors, and ultimately the delivery and installation of the telescope in the summer of 2017. Mr. McCauley was the technical lead on all aspects of these tasks, and was key to the project being delivered on time and within budget.

Mr. McCauley led the setting up of the Realtime Transient Acquisition (REALTA) cluster to process near-realtime data from I-LOFAR. His technical insight and leadership of a small group of graduate students and researchers were without doubt critical to the data processing cluster operating as effectively as it now does. A description of this system has recently been published in a leading international scientific journal, Astronomy & Astrophysics (Murphy, et al., 2021).

Following the switch-on of I-LOFAR, Mr. McCauley took the lead role in the development of Python scripts to control I-LOFAR and archive data from the telescope. The control software is now used extensively by a pool of I-LOFAR chief observers and by numerous guest observers, ranging from undergraduate students through to senior researchers.

Mr. McCauley has also taken the lead role in identifying and monitoring sources of radio frequency interference at I-LOFAR. His technical expertise and understanding of how to operate and evaluate data from I-LOFAR have enabled him to identify and monitor changes in the I-LOFAR radio environment. Indeed, Mr. McCauley was primarily responsible for preparing a submission to the regional development plan on RFI from wind turbines and their impacts on I-LOFAR. As a result of his expertise in this area, he was recently appointed Secretary of the Committee for Radio Astronomy Frequencies (CRAF), an Expert Committee of the European Science Foundation.

Mr. McCauley is extremely generous with his time and is always willing to help students, from undergraduates taking their first steps in radio astronomy to research fellows and staff.

As a result of his critical contributions to the radio astronomy projects at Birr Castle, Mr. McCauley has been co-author on 7 referred papers in leading international journals, including the first-light observations from I-LOFAR in Nature Astronomy.

STELLAR Space Weather Workshop

Virtual, 12-15 July 2021


As part of the STELLAR project DIAS will be hosting a workshop on space weather with a radio twist. This workshop will trace space weather phenomenon from their solar origins, propagation through the low corona, out into the heliosphere and finally possible interactions with planetary bodies. The workshop is aimed at early career stage researchers or those unfamiliar with space weather.

Participants of the school will gain both theoretical and practical knowledge of space weather phenomenon and their signatures in observations. In particular, the sessions after lunch are dedicated to hands on exercises which cover data discovery and download, analysis, and visualisation using the python scientific stack (numpy, sicpy, astropy, sunpy e.t.c.)


Places will be limited so please register early to ensure participation.


Opens: June 7th

Closes: June 25h

Notifications: June 28th


All tutorials will be given using the Python programming language (Python v3.7 or newer).

Schedule (All times are in Irish Standard Time/IST or UTC+1)

Day 1 (July 12): Solar Sources

10:15 – 10:30 Welcome [Shane Maloney]

10:30 – 11:15 Overview [Peter Gallagher] – Video

11:15 – 11:30 Break

11:30 – 12:30 Solar Sources [Shane Maloney] – Video

12:30 – 13:30 Lunch

13:30 – 16:00 Hands on Solar Sources Session [Laura Hayes, Shane Maloney] – Video


Day 2 (July 13):

09:00 – 10:00 An introduction to Solar Radio Bursts [Diana Morosan] – Video

10:00 – 10:15 Break

10:15 – 11:15 Solar Radio Emission Mechanisms [Eoin Carley] – Video

11:15 – 11:30 Break

11:30 – 12:30 Radio Observations of the Sun: from a historical to a modern perspective. [Pietro Zucca] – Video

12:30 – 13:30 Lunch

13:30 – 16:00 Hand on Radio Session [Ciara Maguire, Shane Maloney, Aoife Ryan, Pearse Murphy, Eoin Carley] – Video


Day 3 (July 14):

09:00 – 10:00 Taking Stock of our Understanding of Coronal Mass Ejections [Richard Harrison] – Video

10:00 – 10:15 Break

10:15 – 11:15 Interplanetary Scintillation  [Richard Fallows] – Video

11:15 – 11:30 Break

11:30 – 12:30 Interplanetary Scintillation Demo [Richard Fallows] – Video

12:30 – 13:30 Lunch

13:30 – 16:00 Hands on CME session [Shane Maloney, Ciara Maguire] – Video


Day 4 (July 15):

09:00 – 10:00 Forecasting and Operations [Sophie Murray] – Video + Slides

10:00 – 10:15 Break

10:15 – 11:15 Ionosphere [Laura Hayes] – Video

11:15 – 11:30 Break

11:30 – 12:30 Planetary Magnetospheres [Caitriona Jackman] – Video

12:30 – 13:30 Lunch

13:30 – 14:30 Magnetospheric Radio Emission [Corentin Louis] – Video

14:30 – 15:00 Student Light Speed Talks – Video

  • Shilpi Bhunia – Imaging a type II radio burst band splitting and fine structures using MWA
  • Jeremy Rigney – Investigating M Dwarf Stellar Flares with LOFAR, ASKAP and TESS
  • Diana Petkova – Aperture-Coupled Microstrip Patch Antenna Design using FEM Simulation Technique
  • Mohamed Nedal – Observation Analysis of Coronal Waves and Modelling the Associated Solar Energetic Particles

15:00 – 15:30 Future Perspectives for Solar and Space Weather Radio Observations [Nicole Vilmer] – Video

15:30 – 16:30 AOB



Software and Code


You will need to download and install the following software

Git –



You can find the hands-on material on the workshop GitHub repository:

You will need to create a GitHub account if you do not already have one. To get your own copy of the code, called a ‘fork’ on GitHub, you need to log into GitHub and then visit our repository or repo (link above). In the top right hand corner of the page is the Fork button click this to create your own copy or fork once this has completed your fork should be loaded so the name of the repo should change and the URL should also change for example “<YOUR_USER_NAME>/STELLAR_SSW_tutorials”.

Getting Started

All of the hands-on sessions will be run in Python using Python libraries and tools and requires a minimum Python version of 3.7. We also highly recommend creating an isolated environment for this workshop.  If you don’t have Python or don’t know what an isolated environment is don’t worry we have a step-by-step guide below. Also for more background information see for example the sunpy website install guide and links therein here

The easiest and recommended way to get the required version of Python is to create an environment using minconda  as is outlined below how ever you can use any python3.7 distribution.

Now the required software and actions on github have been created, it’s time to get started. This can be down as follows:

  1. Download the code to your local machine, also called ‘cloning’
    1. Open a terminal or command prompt and change directory to where you want to store the code
    2. Run the following command replacing <username> your github username
      git clone<username>/STELLAR_SSW_tutorials
    3. This will download a copy of the code into a new folder called `STELLAR_SSW_tutorials`
  2. Create an isolated environment
      1. Do the following in the same terminal or command prompt
      2. Change directory to the ‘STELLAR_SSW_tutorials’ folder
      3. Run the following command to create an new environment with all the required packages
        conda env create -f environment.yml
      4. To activate or start using the environment run this command
        conda activate stellar_ssw
    1. Note your prompt should change and now have ‘stellar_sww’ near the start
  3. Test environment
    1. Run the following command in the same terminal or window
      juypter notebook
    2. This should open a jupyter notebook in your default browser

The STELLAR project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No. 952439. Learn more at