Armagh Observatory St Patrick’s Day Event "Discovering the Sun and Stars at Armagh"


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"Discovering the Sun and Stars at Armagh" : Tuesday 17th March 2015. A Free Morning Public Lecture, with Afternoon Tour of Observatory Including the New Sound Installation "aroundNorth"

The Armagh Observatory is providing on the morning of St Patrick’s Day at 11.15am, a Free Public Lecture on the Sun and the 20th March Great Partial Eclipse by Dr Eamon Scullion; and in the afternoon starting at 2.30pm, a Free Public Tour of the main Observatory Building. These will include an explanation of the new multi-speaker sound installation “aroundNorth” by the award-winning composer Robert Jarvis.

Public Lecture: Tuesday 17th March: "The Irish Sun and the Great Partial Solar Eclipse of 2015" Time and Place: 11:15 to 12:30 in the Studio Theatre, The Market Place, Armagh Speaker: Dr Eamon Scullion (Trinity College Dublin)

Summary: The Sun has played an important role in human culture throughout human history. This is highlighted by the intricate design of the passage tomb at Newgrange, Co. Meath, more than 5,000 years old, which contains a unique feature that allows sunlight to enter the deepest part of the tomb at the Winter Solstice. The ancient tombs at Knowth display similar solar alignments, but in this case they are equinoctal. St Patrick’s Day falls close to the Northern Spring Equinox on 20th March, which this year coincides with the deepest Partial Solar Eclipse visible from Ireland since 1927. The eclipse on the morning of 20th March is total to the North-West of Ireland, and at Armagh more than 93% of the Sun will be covered at 9.30 am, the eclipse maximum.

A total solar eclipse gives us a unique opportunity to observe the outer atmosphere of the Sun, called the corona. This harbours secrets of some of the greatest puzzles of modern-day solar physics, that is, the question why the Sun’s million-degree corona is so much hotter than its 6,000-degree surface and the Sun’s interacation with our Earth. In this talk leading solar physicist Dr Eamon Scullion will put the Sun in context and explain how we observe it today using the most advanced space and ground-based telescope facilities available to astronomers. The talk will illustrate exquisite details of the surface of the Sun as seen by these powerful telescopes and explain why studies of the Sun are nowadays such an exciting area of modern astronomy.

"aroundNorth" is a sound installation that demonstrates the apparent rotation of stars around the North Celestial Pole. As the Earth rotates and the stars appear to move slowly around the North Star, Polaris, the installation tracks the stars’ movements and interprets them as an evocative musical score. Crossing imaginary lines in the sky, the stars trigger musical notes whose qualities depend on their brightness, temperature, size and distance from Earth, creating a mesmerising sound-map of the near Universe as seen from any particular point on Earth. "aroundNorth" humanises the astronomical. It brings the stellar Universe to life and makes the stars above our heads, most of which are invisible without a telescope, accessible through the medium of sound. It is of special value in bringing "the sky" down to Earth for people who live under cloudy or light-polluted skies, or who may have a visual impairment.

The Free Public Tour of the Observatory, and guided listenings of "aroundNorth" by the artist and award-winning composer, Robert Jarvis, will begin at the Observatory at 2.30pm.

Both these St Patrick’s Day events are Free and Open to All. As numbers are limited, please contact the Armagh Observatory in order to obtain free tickets. Write, telephone or e-mail: Mrs Aileen McKee, Armagh Observatory, College Hill, Armagh, BT61 9DG; Tel: 028-3752-2928; e-mail: ambnat

For more information about this and other 2015 Creativity Month activities, see:

Partial Solar Eclipse Leaflet - PDF

Astronomers Gear up for Great Partial Solar Eclipse

Launch of First Permanent "aroundNorth" Installation, and Tours of Portable Exhibit Around Northern Ireland

Last Revised: 2015 March 11th