10 Aug 2022

World's largest telescope to be switched on in Offaly today

World's largest telescope to be switched on in Offaly today


For many years, the Leviathan telescope which was developed by the 3rd Earl of Rosse in 1845 in Birr was billed as the largest in the world, but since the building of the Hooker Telescope in 1917, that accolade had moved to California.

Today, Offaly will once again become home to the largest telescope in the world as Minister John Halligan officially switches on the antenna of the massive I-LOFAR on the grounds of Birr Castle.

In January last year, €1.4 million in funding was announced by the Government for this Trinity College project, and in May we brought you news of the mammoth pieces of the telescope being delivered to the site. In total, the Birr build has cost in the region of €2 million.

Pictured: The Birr telescope site at night

The telescope is part of an I-LOFAR network of these telescopes distributed across Europe, which when joining together using radio waves that hit earth, paint a mesmeric picture of our universe.

The project is called the Low-Frequency Array, or LOFAR, and is based primarily in the Netherlands but has 11 international stations spread across Germany, Poland, France, UK, and Sweden.

Spreading the stations gives a more accurate picture of space and this station in Birr will be the furthest west of the antennae. 

Minister of State John Halligan will be present to switch on the station.

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