Blackrock Castle to lead Irish celebration of global astronomy anniversary

Blackrock Castle to lead Irish celebration of global astronomy anniversary
Aina Andreu from Barcelona looking at the stars during the Global star count in Orion at Blackrock Castle Observatory as part of Earth Hour event. Pic: Miki Barlok

The CIT Blackrock Castle Observatory is taking the lead in Ireland’s celebration of a global astronomical anniversary.

In 2019, the International Astronomical Union (IAU), a group that brings together more than 13,500 professional astronomers from more than 100 countries worldwide, is celebrating its 100th anniversary and the astronomical breakthroughs that have shaped science, technology and culture throughout the last century The celebrations aim to highlight the importance of astronomy and the Blackrock Castle team are honoured to participate as Ireland’s coordinator for the year.

With 100 national committees and more than 700 activities already registered in 72 different countries, the IAU is preparing for a year full of events.

In Ireland, this anniversary will be marked by a program of year-long celebrations, including Dark Sky events, science festivals, amateur astronomy events and more.

“2019 is going to be a big year for us and we are incredibly excited to centre our IAU celebrations in a year where we are also marking the 50th Anniversary of the Moon Landings, and our 10th year running Space Week Ireland,” Clair McSweeney, Centre Manager of CIT Blackrock Castle Observatory said. “We are especially proud to be awarded funding for an IAU 100 Special Project that will allow us to promote and celebrate Ireland’s rich Dark Sky Heritage.” 

As part of the Irish Dark Sky special project Blackrock Castle will educate and promote the usage of sky-friendly outdoor lighting, using Irish designed versions of the Quality Lighting Teaching Kit at workshops and pop-ups nationwide.

The science and discovery centre at Blackrock Castle will also collate content for tourism agencies to share information with domestic and overseas visitors about Archeoastronomy and Dark Sky Sites along existing tourism destinations routes.

“It has been our great privilege to use astronomy to empower communities throughout Ireland since our inception, and we are thrilled to have an opportunity to scale-up that mission during this globally significant anniversary,” Ms McSweeney said.

The celebrations start with the global star party 100 Hours of Astronomy, which is taking place from 10 to 13 January 2019. Spread over four days and three nights, amateur and professional astronomers, astronomy enthusiasts and the public are all invited to share their knowledge and enthusiasm for astronomy. Currently, there are more than 250 events registered in 50 different countries, with 10 events in Ireland alone.

Anyone interested in taking part can find out more at www.darksky.ie and www.iau-100.org.

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