Successful Launch of aroundNORTH


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More than 60 people attended the launch of aroundNorth at Armagh Observatory on Saturday 22nd March in the presence of the Lord Mayor of Armagh City and District, Councillor Robert Turner, with a further 40 participating in afternoon events, including descriptions of the exhibit led by the installation’s creator, Robert Jarvis, and tours of the Observatory and Human Orrery led by Libby McKearney and other Observatory staff and students. Visitors and other guests included Mr Danny Kennedy, Minister for Regional Development, Mr Ciaran Scullion, Head of Music at the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, members of the Orchard Social Club for Visually Impaired People, and representatives from the RNIB. Feedback was very positive, with comments including "Fantastic! Would love to hear it again and bring interested friends"; "We really enjoyed the event — the way the movement, size and brightness etc. of the stars were represented was fascinating"; and "It was an excellent artwork. Look forward to it being a permanent exhibit in the grounds".

The multi-speaker sound composition has been made possible with funding through Beyond Borders from the PRS for Music Foundation, Creative Scotland, the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and the Arts Council of Wales. When it returns to the Observatory as a permanent exhibit in a year’s time, it will be a major new addition to the Observatory’s Astropark and a unique attraction for visitors to the City of Armagh. By providing new links between art and science, music and outdoor culture, aroundNorth makes a tangible contribution to the Northern Ireland Executive’s Innovation Strategy, supporting creativity across science and the arts and strengthening the traditional Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) agenda by including Art.


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The composer, Robert Jarvis, said that "It was encouraging to experience people's excitement for the potential of aroundNorth, with lots of suggestions for future performances in locations as diverse as dark-sky parks, darkened galleries and stone circles, as well as enthusiasm for the educational value of the work and how it offers a completely new way of thinking about our relationship to the stars as Earth turns on its axis."

Mark Bailey, Director of the Observatory, continued: "aroundNorth provides us with a new way to appreciate the heavens and helps us all to become more familiar with the properties of the friendly stars above us. It also helps to bring 'the sky' down to Earth, and so helps us all to become more aware of the huge diversity of objects in what astronomers call 'the astronomical zoo' in the near-Universe around us — in Earth’s small corner of our own Milky Way galaxy."

Video from Creativity NI.

aroundNorth will return to Armagh Observatory in March 2015 as a permanent exhibit. There are further planned phases of the project to fully realise its educational potential and its capacity to help visually disabled people better to understand the nature and apparent movement of the stars around the Celestial North Pole. It can be extended so that it will correctly 'play' the stars that happen to be visible from visitor centres and other locations around the world, and potentially be reproduced as an Internet-enabled facility accessible to home computers or mobile phones worldwide.

For links to images relating to the successful launch of aroundNorth, see: this link.

For further information about aroundNorth, see: aroundNorth

CONTACT: Libby McKearney or Mark Bailey at the Armagh Observatory, College Hill, Armagh, BT61 9DG. Tel.: 028-3752-2928; FAX: 028-3752-7174; lmkat , mebat

Last Revised: 2014 April 9th