Worlds Largest Telescope, 1845 to 1917, Birr Castle, Offaly

  • Author:ActiveME
  • Created: March 24, 2013
  • Updated: December 12, 2017
Location: Offaly
  • DistanceInstructions
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Ireland had the worlds largest telescope from 1845 until 1917. Built on the grounds of Birr Castle in Co. Offaly, the telescope was known as the 'Rosses' or 'Leviathan' was 58 feet long and was supsended between two 15m walls.

In 1845, William Parsons, Third Earl of Rosse at Birr Castle built this, the world’s largest telescope. The most powerful instrument of its time it magnified the moon roughly 6500x and was used to map its surface. With it Parsons discovered that many nebulae were actually spiral galaxies containing many millions of stars. He discovered a total of 16 spiral galaxies and he named the Crab Nebula.

Scientists came from around the world to marvel at this feat of engineering in the middle of the Irish countryside and it even featured in a Jules Verne novel. The reflecting telescope, the world’s largest for 70 years until it was metled down to be used in WWI. Thankfully, it is now been restored to working order and is therefore still a must for the scientific tourist! Facilities include a science museum, the great telescope, gardens and cafe.

Use our Map of Ireland and Sat Nav tool to get directions and our detailed maps and GPS on our ActiveME iPhone App and Android App to find it live on screen and keep on track. Feel free to send us your photos and add you own star rating, comments or suggestions below.

1. Worlds Largest Telescope, 1845 to 1917, Birr Castle, Offaly

Altitude: 55 m