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Executive Summary

This report provides information about the Armagh Observatory, its staff and organization, and reviews its principal achievements during the Calendar Year 2004. All financial matters refer to the financial year running from 1 April to 31 March. At the time of writing (i.e. 12 April 2005), figures for the period 1 April 2004 to 31 March 2005 are unaudited and may differ slightly from those published in the final audited accounts.

  1. The Armagh Observatory has achieved considerable success during the past year. Staff have produced 41 refereed scientific journal publications during the year, as well as one monograph (``The Origin of Stars'', by Dr M.D. Smith); the number of identified media citations, namely 282, has remained at a high level, considerably above the target figure of 200; and the number of Distinct e-Visitors to the Observatory web-sites (http://star.arm.ac.uk/, http://climate.arm.ac.uk/ and http://arpc65.arm.ac.uk/spm/) has continued to grow.

  2. The 41 papers published in refereed scientific journals is the highest since 1998. Such publications represent only a fraction of the Observatory's total scientific output.

  3. Staff at the Observatory have obtained external grants and other income totalling £250,000 during the period (£239,000 in external grant receipts), maintaining the extremely high levels of recent years. These have averaged in excess of £250,000 per year over the past decade, i.e. more than 40% of the corresponding DCAL grant-in-aid over the same period. The related high level of astronomical activity at Armagh demonstrates an extremely good return per unit of core DCAL funding.

  4. In the same period, Armagh Observatory staff have presented a record 93 talks and other scientific contributions at meetings both locally and abroad, and maintained a very active programme of formal seminars and internal colloquia at the Observatory (23 such talks). They have also attracted 282 identified media citations in various mass-media including items in the national and international press, and on radio and television.

  5. A notable achievement during 2004 was the Observatory's involvement in arrangements for the first joint meeting of the Astronomical Science Group of Ireland (ASGI) and the Institute of Physics in Ireland (IoPI). The meeting ``Astronomy and Astrophysics in Ireland'' was held in St Patrick's Trian, Armagh, from 1-4 April 2004. With more than 140 participants this was the largest astronomy meeting ever held in Armagh.

  6. The Observatory continues to present a strong, positive image of Armagh and Northern Ireland on the national and world stage. It also maintains a significant programme of education and public outreach. The Observatory's three principal web-sites, namely http://star.arm.ac.uk/, http://climate.arm.ac.uk/ and http://arpc65.arm.ac.uk/spm/, have attracted growing interest by members of the general public, evidenced by the very high number of recorded `hits' and Distinct e-Visitors (DeVs), and by the growing amount of data transferred from the web-site to external users. During 2004 these indicators of web-site activity were recorded as 9.4 million hits, 576,000 DeVs (an average of two estimates), and 920GB data exported.

  7. Staff have devoted considerable effort towards the programme of restoration of several historic telescopes and telescope domes, so improving the fabric of the main Grade A listed building and building a foundation for continued observing operations at the Observatory. They have also undertaken various other innovative projects in the Observatory Grounds and Astropark, including construction of the Human Orrery -- the first such exhibit in the world -- and inauguration of the new Phenology Garden. These activities have improved both the scientific and cultural heritage of the region and have been carried out in addition to pursuing a high-volume programme of astronomical research.

Table 1 shows the yearly trend of various performance indicators. Staff at the Armagh Observatory have maintained a high level of scientific and other output during the year and generated an exceptionally high public profile at regional, national and international level. These activities reflect not just the strength of public interest in astronomy and space science, but also the interests of the Observatory's staff and the activities of its core funding agency, the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure (DCAL), presenting all in a very positive light. The Armagh Observatory makes a unique contribution to projecting a positive image of Armagh City and District -- and of Northern Ireland -- on the world stage.


Table 1: The trend of various performance indicators (PIs) versus calendar year, including the total DCAL grant income received in cash terms in the corresponding financial year. Note that these figures include the announced capital and recurrent funding together with any additional funding received in-year. Also shown is the total funding required for 2005/2006. External grant income for 2004/2005 represents a preliminary, unaudited estimate. Performance targets for calendar year 2005 (financial year 2005/2006) are expressed in round figures.
External Refereed Identified Distinct Total DCAL
Calendar Year Grant Income Journal Media e-Visitors RAE Grade Grant Income
(£000s) Publications Citations (DEVs) (£000s)
2001 221 32 302 318,000 4 713.5
2002 306 33 267 354,000 733.5
2003 270 34 226 470,000 781.5
2004 239 41 282 576,000 884.0
2005 Required Income: 773.4
2005 Targets: 200 35 200 400




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