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Observatory Hosts European Heritage Open Day

Armagh Observatory will be opening its doors to the public on Saturday, 8th September as part of the 10th annual European Heritage Open Days organized by the Environment and Heritage Service. These Open Days are a Europe-wide celebration of our heritage, culture and architecture. Many countries throughout Europe will be taking part by opening, free of charge, many properties not usually accessible to the general public.

The Armagh Observatory has taken part in the Open Days since its inception in 1998. The Archbishop of Armagh, Richard Robinson founded the Observatory around 1790, to the plans of Francis Johnston. The recently restored original building is constructed mainly of Armagh 'marble', a tough reddish conglomerate that takes a fine polish, together with limestone dressings and superior interior joinery. On the south side of the main building there is a high telescope tower with a dome. There is an 1820s extension with another telescope tower.

The grounds and gardens include two sundials, the Observatory Astropark, and a unique Human Orrery. The Astropark is a scale model of the solar system and the wider universe, while the Orrery is an accurate model of the solar system, located close to the modern research centre, in which people can play the role of the moving planets around the Sun. The grounds are open all year round, while the main Observatory building is open for tours by appointment only.

A small exhibition relating to the research work of the Observatory will be on view during the tours. The Observatory has a specialist Library and Archive and an important collection of scientific instruments that reflect the development of the whole of modern astronomy. A meteorological register has been maintained since 1795, and is the longest continuous meteorological series from a single site in the UK and Ireland.

Access to the Observatory is from College Hill by the road leading off the northeast corner of the Mall, close to the Courthouse and opposite the Royal Irish Fusiliers Museum. Guided tours are available on Saturday 8th September commencing at 11:00, 12:00, 14:00, 15:00 and 16:00.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION PLEASE CONTACT: John McFarland at the Armagh Observatory, College Hill, Armagh, BT61 9DG. Tel.: 028-3752-2928; FAX: 028-3752-7174; jmfat signarm.ac.uk. For European Heritage Open Days news and updates see www.ehsni.gov.uk

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Last Revised: 2007 September 6th
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