Stars on the Street in New City Centre Sculpture


The artist Brian Connolly and the Mayor Jim Speers


Members of the Public Art Steering Group


Mayor of Armagh City and District Council, Councillor Jim Speers

The stars on the streets this Christmas in Armagh City have a different 'X-factor' with the installation of the latest sculpture from the City’s ambitious Public Art Strategy at Upper English Street. Entitled "Celestial Sphere" the artwork is the vision of Artist Brian Connolly, who following research with Armagh Observatory, has created an impressive granite structure which is a fitting tribute to the importance of astronomy and scientific research in Armagh.

At an event to mark the installation of the artwork on 16th December, the Artist described the sculpture as "a large two-metre diameter sphere made from solid polished grey granite, onto which the brightest stars and other features of the night sky have been mapped. The sphere with its gold stars is aligned to the north with the stars correctly orientated towards the pole star, functions like a kind of fixed Armillary model of the celestial sphere. The sphere rests on one of four large base stones that have been engraved to depict the story of the development of astronomy through the ages."

"I wanted to illustrate four eras of astronomical history, one on each of the four base stones. Each stone contains imagery and information from ancient times, through the Renaissance to key aspects from the history and contemporary research at Armagh Observatory. Galileo, Halley, Sir Isaac Newton, Hubble and Einstein are just some of the references you will see."

Mayor of Armagh City and District Council, Councillor Jim Speers praised the work of the Public Art Steering Group and Armagh Observatory for their assistance in bringing public art to Armagh City Centre, further enhancing Armagh’s status as a City of significant cultural and scientific importance.

"This latest artwork, added to those already installed as part of the City Centre Public Art Programme herald a new confidence and sense of achievement for Armagh City. This sculpture in particular draws attention to the City’s great achievements and status as a centre for astronomical research and discovery. Strategically placed at Upper English Street, near to the Planetarium and Observatory, we hope to draw visitors into the City Centre who in past times might only have visited the Planetarium or Observatory, then left again without enjoying the virtues and attractions of one of Ireland’s most important and beautiful cities. I would also like to thank the public art steering group, made up of local citizens and Councillors who have been spear-heading the new Public Art Programme and have done a tremendous job in finding some great artists with brilliant and distinctive ideas and vision."

Mark Bailey, the director of Armagh Observatory, has welcomed the new sculpture, believing that it is an important addition to the scientific and cultural status of Armagh City and its rich astronomical history and associations:

"Staff at the Observatory are delighted to have been involved with this new sculpture, and very much enjoyed working with the Artist to create through art a new and refreshing insight into the world of astronomy. Alongside the Planetarium and the various visitor attractions at the Observatory, including the Human Orrery, Armagh is by far the main destination in Ireland for those seeking to find out more about our universe and solar system."

The star map over the surface of the sphere was created with the help of Emeritus Professor John Oliver from the Department of Astronomy, University of Florida. The artwork was fabricated and installed by S. McConnell & Sons Ltd., of Kilkeel.

Last Revised: 2010 December 18th