'Cosmos at the Castle' unveiled in Cork
Micheal Martin, Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, launched the final element of Blackrock's Observatory and Interactive Visitor Centre in Cork on Monday.
Cosmos at the Castle is a EUR7.5 million joint venture between Cork City Council and Cork Institute of Technology. Housed at Blackrock Castle, it claims to be Ireland's foremost Astronomical Research Facility and hosts a team of scientists working on new technologies for searching for planets around distant stars.
"We need to cultivate an attitude that values scientific curiosity and endeavour in the same way and we must strive to promote a more positive attitude towards the sciences through our schools, third level institutions and through projects such as the Blackrock Observatory," said Minister Martin speaking at the launch.
"My department, through its integrated awareness programme, Discover Science and Engineering, is happy to support this unique project. Blackrock Castle Observatory is now a Discover Science Centre and offers a wonderful facility in Cork for children to explore the universe."
Minister Martin pointed out that Ireland has set a goal to become a leader in research, development and innovation and has committed a budget towards this of EUR8.2 billion under the National Development Plan 2007-2013 and the Strategy for Science, Technology and Innovation (SSTI) 2006-2013. The Cosmos at the Castle Project falls under the strategy's remit.
The state-of-the-art exhibition highlights recent discoveries of extreme life forms on earth and their implications for life in space. It also invites interactive debate on mankind's ultimate place in the universe.
A gallery of cinema-sized, high-definition, digital video screens with proximity sensors allow visitors to interact with the universe's evolution process and of life on earth.
"Blackrock Castle Observatory is about inspiring passion in science and discovery. It will be a great educational and leisure resource for the public, and it will introduce young people to the wonders of science but also to demonstrate its relevance to people of all ages," said Peter Brabazon, Programme Director for Discover Science and Engineering.
"To develop as a society and economy, we need scientists and innovators who will provide the expertise and leadership which will contribute to job creation, sustained economic prosperity and advances in healthcare and environmental protection. The integration of research, an interactive astronomy exhibition centre and an educational outreach programme makes the Blackrock Castle project unique in Ireland."
Funding for the project was provided by Cork City Council, Cork Institute of Technology and a private benefactor.