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Observatory Celebrates 10 Years of the National Lottery

Armagh Observatory will be opening its doors to members of the public from 10.00 a.m. to 4.00 p.m. on Saturday 6th November to celebrate the 10th birthday of the National Lottery.

Guided tours of the Observatory will be provided from 10.00 a.m., when visitors will be able to see the telescopes and telescope domes that have been recently restored using Heritage Lottery Funds, and also view the meteorological archive on the internet. This is the longest continuous meteorological series from a single site in the UK and Ireland. There will also be a fascinating exhibition on the development of astronomy at Armagh from the earliest days to the present.

Grubb 15 inch Reflector being restored by David Sinden.
Click image for larger view.
The restored telescopes are the 15-inch Newtonian/Cassegrain reflector by Thomas Grubb (1834) and the 10-inch refractor by Howard Grubb (1885). The 15-inch reflector is believed to have been Grubb's first commercial telescope and it has a clockwork drive and an innovative 18-point mirror suspension system. In 1882, John Dreyer, then director of the Armagh Observatory, used this telescope to observe the 1882 Transit of Venus.

The 10-inch refractor was erected in 1885 by Dreyer in memory of his predecessor, Dr Thomas Romney Robinson. Dreyer employed this instrument in the compilation of the New General Catalogue of Nebulae and Clusters of Stars (1888) and its later two supplements, the Index Catalogues (1895, 1910), now known as the "NGC" and "IC" catalogues respectively.

The Armagh Observatory Open Day is one of a number of events organised in Northern Ireland to celebrate the 10th birthday of the National Lottery. In the past decade, almost £500 million has been raised for more than 6,700 projects here. Professor Mark Bailey, Director of the Observatory, said: "The programme to preserve and restore the heritage of the modern astronomical Observatory has benefited hugely from receipt of Lottery funds, as well as from the support of the Northern Ireland Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure. Opening our doors in this way is a great way to explain what has been done."

As part of the celebrations for National Lottery Day, a variety of Lottery funded projects will hold special events and promotions. In particular, a free 10th birthday concert will take place in St George's Market, Belfast, while the Odyssey Pavilion will host a Good Causes Fair where National Lottery funded projects will showcase their diverse talents and achievements.

Walter Rader, Chairman of the Northern Ireland Lottery Forum, said: "This Open Day is a great way for all the family to celebrate a decade that has seen almost £500 million given to Good Causes across Northern Ireland."

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: John McFarland at the Armagh Observatory, College Hill, Armagh, BT61 9DG. Tel.: 028-3752-2928; FAX: 028-3752-7174; jmfarm.ac.uk; Examples and images of Lottery funded projects at the Armagh Observatory can be found at: Meteorological Archive Project and Dome Restoration Project.

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Last Revised: 2004 October 26th
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