What does Ireland have planned for Space Week 2023?

5 Oct 2023

Image: © harvepino/Stock.adobe.com

Ireland has various educational events planned this week, giving people the chance to speak with Dr Niamh Shaw, hear students contact the ISS and more.

With World Space Week in full motion, its no surprise that Ireland has some exciting events to get people looking up to the stars.

World Space Week is an international celebration of science and technology, consisting of various educational and outreach events by organisations in 87 countries worldwide. The goal is to show people how space research benefits their lives and to get young people interested in STEM fields.

The global celebration began yesterday (4 October) and will take place until 10 October. The historic signing of the Outer Space Treaty took place on 10 October 1967, while the first human-made satellite, Sputnik 1, was launched on 4 October 1957.

Rob O’ Sullivan, the national outreach coordinator for Space Week Ireland, said Ireland has a “rich, if somewhat underappreciated” history of contributing to the fields of astronomy and astrophysics.

“Some of these efforts have marked paradigm shifts that greatly advanced their respective fields,” O’ Sullivan said.

Lets look at some of the top events taking place across Ireland to celebrate Space Week 2023.

Contact with the ISS

Amateur radio is going out of this world this week, as a group of Irish students will be making contact with astronaut Jasmin Moghbeli as she orbits over Europe in the International Space Station tomorrow (6 October).

The 12 students are part of the STEM Try Five project, which provides DEIS primary-school pupils with five STEM workshops focused on space exploration. This project has more than 250 participating pupils and is funded by Science Foundation Ireland.

The radio contact will be achieved using a temporary ground station, which will be set up on the roof of Technological University Dublin. The event will be broadcast live via YouTube, making it possible for anyone to listen in.

Meeting Dr Niamh Shaw

Dr Niamh Shaw is giving Irish children the chance to learn about her exciting space endeavours in person, with events at Malahide Library and Balbriggan Library this week.

Shaw is a well-known Irish engineer, scientist and science communicator. She was named a ‘champion’ by the European Space Agency last year for her role in communicating about space. She was one of only 15 people to get this commendation.

At the Space Week events this Saturday, Shaw will share stories of her biggest space adventures, including her latest Mars science mission in the Kalahari Desert in Botswana.

In 2018, she shared with SiliconRepublic.com her first-hand experience of travelling more than 4,000 km to Baikonur, a Russian-run site in the middle of Kazakhstan, for her very first rocket launch.

As part of her outreach work, Shaw was an honorary ambassador for the Irish Girl Guides between 2019 and 2020, and was a guest speaker at the launch of the group’s space programme in 2020.

Cork Space Festival

The team at Munster Technological University’s Blackrock Castle Observatory (BCO) are also celebrating Space Week, with a free festival launch in Cork tomorrow.

The Cork Astronomy Club is inviting people to learn more about the stars, with astronomy sessions at the BCO courtyard and tours of the observatory. This event is free, but spaces for the tours and talks will be allocated on a ‘first-come, first-served’ basis.

Galway Space Weekend

Ireland’s largest native species aquarium is planning a wave of special events this weekend to get people thinking about life on other planets.

The Galway Atlantaquaria will let visitors take a look at some of the species on Earth, while offering exciting events for children such as a themed scavenger hunt, a colouring competition and themed talks.

The aquarium are caretakers of hundreds of native animals from Ireland’s rivers, lakes, canals and oceans.

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Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic