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Buildings, Grounds, Library and Archives

The Observatory has an important responsibility to maintain and preserve the fabric of the historic buildings and the wealth of the scientific and intellectual heritage in its care. The main historic buildings, which are listed, have unique architectural features, and together with the library, historic books and archives, and the collection of scientific instruments and other artefacts built up over more than two hundred years of continuous astronomical activity in Armagh, contain one of Northern Ireland's most valuable scientific collections.

The Observatory also maintains a unique 210-year long meteorological record and data-bank (see http://climate.arm.ac.uk/). This provides it with a further important vein of activity, namely the need to understand and promote public understanding of environmental change, and particularly the extraterrestrial causes of such change, for example the variable bolometric output of the Sun, long-term changes in the Earth's orbit, changes in the accretion of interplanetary dust on the Earth, and the implications of such changes (varying temperature and rainfall, incidence of gales and so on) for Northern Ireland.

Taken together, the scientific and architectural heritage of astronomy at Armagh is thus a highly significant asset: the entire collection -- books and scientific journals, instruments and scientific artefacts, historic telescopes and clocks, and scientific data -- encompasses virtually every aspect of modern astronomy. In many cases, the underlying motivation and reasons for the developments of astronomy at a particular time can be explained by direct reference to discoveries at Armagh, or to artefacts and other material held within the Library and Archives. This rich cultural heritage gives astronomers at Armagh a unique opportunity to explain the development of their subject over past centuries and the context in which modern research is carried out.



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Next: Heritage Policy Up: annrep2004 Previous: 2004 Robinson Lectures, 25-26   Contents