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"Armagh Observatory: World-Class Institution"

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Prof. Mark Bailey, Danny Kennedy MLA, Jim Nicholson MEP
Ulster Unionist party MEP Jim Nicholson and MLA Danny Kennedy visited the Armagh Observatory on Friday 17th April 2009. During a tour of the Observatory lasting nearly two hours, they took the opportunity to meet some of the astronomers at Armagh and to hear first-hand about the leading international astronomical research carried out in Armagh. They also viewed a small exhibition highlighting some of the organization's most valuable historical archives and museum pieces.

The director of the Observatory, Professor Mark Bailey, said "The Armagh Observatory is a unique institution, not just the oldest scientific institution in Northern Ireland but a world-leading astronomical institution in its own right."

The Observatory's principal function is to undertake original research of a world-class astronomical standard that broadens and expands our understanding of astronomy and related sciences. In addition, it maintains a unique, nearly 215-year long meteorological record and data-bank, the longest daily series in the UK and Ireland. This climate record is now recognized as one of key strategic importance for Northern Ireland as we move into an era of rapid climate change.

Professor Bailey continued: "In addition, there is a very high level of public interest in astronomy, space science and related fields, particularly in this year 2009, the International Year of Astronomy. This is mirrored by the Observatory's academic focus and addressed by its active programmes of public outreach and public understanding of science."

The Observatory's programme of Science in the Community has a number of pillars. These include guided tours of the Observatory and the Observatory Grounds, Astropark and Human Orrery; holding occasional exhibitions; organizing and delivering public lectures; supervising school children and undergraduates on work-experience programmes and summer research projects; and maintaining - and improving - the resource of the Observatory Grounds and Astropark as a unique facility to enrich the lives of visitors to Armagh and residents alike.

Astronomy at Armagh is supported by the Northern Ireland Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure, which has as its central aim the mission "to protect, nurture and grow Northern Ireland's Cultural Capital for today and tomorrow".

A media release, including images, of the visit by Jim Nicholson and Danny Kennedy is available at: UUP website

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Last Revised: 2009 April 21st
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