Co Tyrone star-gazing tech observatory nearly complete

  • The OM Dark Sky Park and Observatory project is due to open this autumn, with the aim of making Northern Ireland a world-class destination for astronomy fans.

    The observatory is located deep in the Davagh forest, around 10 miles north of Cookstown in Co Tyrone. It boasts one of the darkest skies across Ireland with very little light pollution.

    This makes the stars and planets more visible when the conditions are right, making the observatory a prime spot for global constellation and planet seekers.

    The forest covers 1,500 hectares and is sited close to the ancient Beaghmore Stone Circles, at the foot of the Sperrin Mountains.

    The project is jointly funded between the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) and Mid Ulster Council.

    The OM Dark Sky Park and Observatory has received £500,000 through the Rural Tourism Scheme which provides funding to invest tourism products that act as a key driver for encouraging rural tourism and out of state visitors.

    The observatory is part of a three-phase development at the site, and the council has also been successful in receiving further funding of £880,837 from the Rural Tourism Scheme towards the ‘Davagh Outdoor experience’ and walking trails.

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    Rural Affairs Minister Edwin Poots recently visited the site and said: “The centre piece of the observatory is a star-gazing telescope which, during special events, will provide the opportunity to view the night sky without light pollution.

    “When opened the centre will increase visitor numbers to the Sperrins and bring an economic boost for the area. I am very happy that my department was able to fund such an exciting initiative.”

    Chair of Mid Ulster Council, Councillor Cathal Mallaghan added: “Funding through the Rural Tourism Scheme has contributed enormously to the council’s investment in creating what can only be described as a unique facility which showcases the amazingly dark skies at Davagh.”

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    About the author

    Niamh is a Sync NI writer with a previous background of working in FinTech and financial crime. She has a special interest in sports and emerging technologies. To connect with Niamh, feel free to send her an email or connect on Twitter.

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