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Royal Honour for Armagh Astronomer


Dr John Butler fine tuning the recently restored Calver telescope at Armagh Observatory.
(Image courtesy Miruna Popescu)
Dr John Butler, recently retired research astronomer at the Armagh Observatory, has been awarded the MBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours, for services to science.

Dr Butler was born in Cambridgeshire, England. He graduated with a BSc degree from the University of Edinburgh and in 1971 obtained his PhD degree from Trinity College Dublin for a thesis entitled "Cepheid Variables in the Magellanic Clouds." Cepheid variables are an example of very luminous stars that are used to determine the distances to nearby galaxies, such as the satellite Magellanic Clouds of our own Galaxy.

John worked for a number of years at Dunsink Observatory, Dublin before joining the staff of the Armagh Observatory in 1973. His research interests at Armagh over the last few years have been mainly on solar-terrestrial relationships, especially climate change and how the Sun influences the Earth's atmosphere. For this he has been utilizing the meteorological record maintained at the Armagh Observatory since 1795. He has investigated the influence of solar activity and cosmic rays on global warming and on the formation of terrestrial clouds.

Another main area of his research has been in investigating optical stellar flares - essentially giant explosions - especially on the so-called 'spotted stars'. These are stars whose light output varies due to the presence of large relatively cool areas on their surfaces, akin to sunspots.

In the last few years, John has been foremost in supervising the restoration of the Armagh Observatory's main historic telescopes. He is a well-known local figure in Armagh with his varied contributions to the music, art and film scenes of the City. We congratulate John on this well-deserved honour.

See also:
A Short History of Armagh Observatory by C.J. Butler
Calibrated Climate Data from Armagh Observatory by Butler et al
The Archives of Armagh Observatory by Butler et al
Global Warming - Man or Nature by C.J. Butler

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION PLEASE CONTACT: John McFarland at the Armagh Observatory, College Hill, Armagh, BT61 9DG. Tel.: 028-3752-2928; FAX: 028-3752-7174; jmfarm.ac.uk.

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Last Revised: 2006 June 20th
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