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Tyndall Lecture 2021, Monday 22 March


I'm not sure that my Leaving Cert class of 2018 gave me sufficient credit for arranging a day trip to Birr Castle to see the Leviathan telescope as well as the I-Lofar just a few months before they were presented with a full question on that exact topic in their leaving cert*.


At first glance the LOFAR array doesn't look like much of telescope. I'm pretty sure a passing stranger could be convinced that it is some sort of mid-tech innovation in agriculture, designed to increase grass-yield or some such thing. But it is in fact restoring Birr to the centre of world Astronomy and allowing it to host once again (a part of) the largest telescope in the world - just as it did for over 70 years from the 1840s. All this by being part of an international network of state-of-the-art telescopes used to observe the Universe in unprecedented detail, using low radio frequencies.(LOFAR is a LOw Frequency ARray) .


All of this will be covered by the Tyndall Lecture next Monday - March 22nd at 2.30.


In the past, booking into an event like this meant we had to look for cover for our own absence, seek permission for the students to travel, organise a bus, and arrange payment. All of which was inclined to be a bit of a chore. But this year, it just involves pre- booking and then joining an online meeting and arranging for your students to do so at the same time. That's all so simple, I imagine events like this might well continue online in the future.


It's aimed at 14-16 year olds, so that could be a junior year or TY - who will still be learning from home, or maybe a 5th year class, who could maybe watch from a classroom in the school. I've booked in a TY class myself and I'm very much looking forward to it.


All arranged through the IoP. Details and FAQs here:


The Leaving Cert question from 2018 is here - covering aspects of the electromagnetic spectrum, magnetism, optics and satellite motion. That such a mix of topics links into LOFAR says something about what a great opportunity this is for students.





* they didn't give me any credit at all. When pushed some even claimed that it was due to dumb luck rather than being a masterpiece of strategic planning....


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