Stargazing in the Land of a Thousand Welcomes

Posted: 17/09/2020 10:16:31

In the week that we found out there was even greater evidence pointing to life on the planet Venus, we had Astronomer Emily Levesque and Ron Bledsoe - former Apollo 11 NASA Engineer – speak at our Geodirectory Webinar

We thought it would be nice to pay homage to those places here at home that play their part in further advancing our overall knowledge as to what lies in our solar system. They are also fun and friendly place for families to visit and learn more about Astronomy.  

All can be easily located via using the Geo-Findit app, available on iOS and Android

Birr Castle as we now know it was built around 1620 by the Parson family. In the 19th century, William Parsons, the 13th Earl of Rosse built a big telescope with the financial help of his wife Mary, who in turn was a renowned photographer. His son, the 4th Earl followed in his father’s footsteps with his love of Astronomy and the Telescope was still in regular use right up to the time of world War II. It was with the Telescope that we first discovered that Nebulae – a key component at what make’s up the galaxy, were spiral in nature. Visitors can traverse up to 120 Acres of parkland, visit the science gallery and of course marvel at the world renowned Telescope as well.


Dunsink Observatory is the oldest purpose built scientific research centre in Ireland. It opened it’s doors in 1785 and was initially constructed as the observatory attached to Trinity College Dublin. The building which was namechecked by James Joyce in his seminal work ‘Ulysses’ had a dome and Grubb Telescope (built in Rathmines in a factory on a road now known as Observatory Lane) in the Mid 19th Century. The third Director of Dunsink Observatory was one William Rowan Hamilton. Those with a keen insight of mathematics will instantly recognise him as the mathematician whose key discoveries (known as ‘Hamiltonian’s) played a key role in the eventual discovery of what we call Quantum Mechanics. Those of ye reading this who are from or have walked through Cabra in Dublin will have spotted the plaque dedicated to him on the Broom Bridge, near the present day train station and LUAS Terminus. The Observatory hold regular family nights were people can visit and take in all that the facility has to offer. 


In 2007 a Private investor got together with Cork Institute of Technology and the local council and together they brought about the reopening of Blackrock Castle as Blackrock Observatory. The Observatory contains a section on how people from Cork traversed the world in the past alongside exhibitions on the Cosmos and our solar system, and of course there is the obligatory telescope visitors can marvel at too. 

Situated in the quaint ecclesiastical town of Armagh is the world Famous Planetarium, whose star attraction is the magical Digital Theatre Dome which transports visitors on a jaw-dropping Roller-Coaster ride through our Solar System. It is highly regarded as one of the best such theatres in the entire world. There are also many fantastic exhibits on display for people to browse. While the Observatory is currently closed, due to Health and Safety concerns, it should be top of your must-see list when it reopens.

The TCD Science Gallery on Pearse Street is another fantastic place that helps kids’ expand their horizons. With Exhibitions and interactive displays on how the Earth was formed and it’s place in our solar system, they will leave the building wowed and with a greater sense of what is needed to protect the environment around us. So if there are members of your family who love Astronomy, there are plenty of things in the Science Gallery to grab their attention to Infinity and Beyond!


W5 – Who, What, Why, Where, When? Is another Science Museum - in the same vein as the Science Gallery - that is located near the Titanic Exhibition in the heart of Belfast City. With a floor dedicated to Space, those with an Astronomical interest will have quite the feast for ones senses to gorge upon. Containing a myriad of interactive science based challenges for Children to tackle, they will be smiling and asleep in the back seat of your car in no time after you depart. W5 is currently closed for Health and Safety Reasons, but it is well worth hitting the M1 for when it reopens.


Last but not least on the list is Explorium – National Sport and Science Centre - in Sandyford Dublin. One of the new attractions available here is the “VR Planetarium” where visitors can immerse themselves in the doings of the Solar system and the Moon via the realm of Virtual Reality. Just like in W5 in Belfast there are numerous physical and mental challenges for kids to get stuck into, as they learn even more about how Science works. Located not far from the Sandyford exit of the M50 or a short walk after alighting from the 114 bus that one can board at Blackrock Dart Station or beside Sandyford LUAS stop

With such brilliant places to visit listed above, it’s time to stop eating Milky Way’s while slouched on the couch and take a trip to learn more about the universe, be it by car or by coach!
For directions to these facilities and a comprehensive list of other places to see or eat and drink in nearby, download the Geofindit app on iOS and Android

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