History of science

Read the passage on the word réalta and Fun Facts and construct a timeline showing:

  • the life of Colum Cille (St Columba)
  • the construction of Newgrange
  • the life of Masha’allah ibn Athari
  • the appearance of Comet Neowise
  • the building of the Great Telescope
  • the date of the comet mentioned in the Annals of Ulster
  • the first moon-landing
  • the translation into Irish of the astronomical text

Origins of names

Divide the class into groups of three. Each pupil in a group is set one of the questions/tasks below. They should look at the image of the relevant astronomical feature in Images, research the answer on their own and then share the information with the group in an Each One Teach One exercise. Pupils from different groups who have worked on the same question/task should collate their answers before presenting to the entire class.

  • Why is sechtarré ‘seven stars’ an appropriate name for the constellation known in English as the Plough? Why is this constellation called ‘the Plough’ in English?
  • Rétlu mongach ‘long-haired star’ was a term for a comet in Old Irish. The English word ‘comet’ comes from Latin cometes. Find out what the Latin word means.
  • Is grianchrios ‘sun-belt’ a good name for the Zodiac? The English word Zodiac comes from a Greek term meaning ‘circle of little animals’. Find out about the signs of the Zodiac wheel and the reasons for this name.

Personal preferences

Visit a planetarium, Newgrange or the Great Telescope at Birr Castle OR spend an evening viewing the sky through a home telescope. Afterwards create a photoblog ‘cool list’ of the things the class have seen and experienced.