President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, Visits Observatory

President's Visit
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The President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, visited the Armagh Observatory with his wife Sabina on 28th July 2014 as part of a visit to Armagh that included the delivery of the opening address to the John Hewitt Summer School, a Civic Reception in the Palace hosted by the Lord Mayor, Councillor Mrs Cathy Rafferty, and tours of the Armagh Observatory and the Armagh Public Library.

A special exhibition at the Observatory displayed the heritage of astronomy at Armagh over the Observatory’s 225-year history together with its wide scientific interests including climate change, investigating the impact of comets and asteroids on Earth, and modern astronomical research encompassing solar-system astronomy, solar physics and stellar and Galactic astrophysics.

Included in the exhibition was a brief history of the Armagh-Dunsink-Harvard (ADH) telescope, an instrument that saw first light in Bloemfontein, South Africa, in 1950. The ADH agreement to build an international telescope facility in South Africa was signed on 29th August 1947; this was an early milestone in cross-border cooperation between Ireland and Northern Ireland and the first 'North-South' agreement between the two jurisdictions on the island of Ireland.

Among those who assisted with the exhibition and Observatory tour were David Asher, Stefano Bagnulo, Mark Bailey, Gerry Doyle, James Finnegan, Simon Jeffery, Emma-Jane Kennedy, John Landstreet, Jorick Vink, and the Chair of the Board of Governors, the Most Revd Richard Clarke, Archbishop of Armagh.

During the tour President Higgins also met visiting IAESTE student Floor van Riggelen (University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands), who was researching a project supervised by PhD student Venu Kalari to develop a new way of identifying probable pre-main sequence stars in nearby star-forming regions; and Nuffield/Sentinus summer students Mark Robinson (Aquinas Diocesan Grammar School, Belfast) and Isaac Richardson (Grosvenor Grammar School, Belfast), working on a four-week project supervised by Gavin Ramsay to identify flare stars using data from the Kepler spacecraft. Simon Jeffery explained and demonstrated the operation of the new Armagh Robotic Telescope (ART).

Also participating in the tour were representatives from the President's private office, members of the North-South Ministerial Council, Armagh, and Cynthia Smith, DCAL Deputy Secretary, who represented the Minister for Culture, Arts and Leisure, Ms Carál Ní Chuilín, who had been unable to attend.

President's Visit
Click on image for larger version.

Images showing various aspects of this tour are on the Observatory website, see right. The full collection of images, courtesy of Vincent Loughran and Ian Maginess, can be obtained here.

For more information contact Mark Bailey at the Armagh Observatory, College Hill, Armagh, BT61 9DG. Tel.: 028-3752-2928; FAX: 028-3752-7174; mebat

Last Revised: 2014 August 18th