Armagh Observatory, 16 March 1999

Mr Lembit Öpik, the Liberal-Democrat MP for Montgomeryshire and Spokesman on Northern Ireland, will visit the Armagh Observatory on Monday 22 March. He will donate to the Observatory an academic sash recently given to him by the Estonian Academy of Sciences in honour of his grandfather, Ernst Julius Öpik.

Dr E J Öpik (1893-1985), acting Director of the Armagh Observatory from 1974-1976, was one of the most accomplished astronomers of this century. One of his major contributions was his understanding of the origin and motion of comets and asteroids, and the implications of their collision with the Earth.

Mr Öpik recently raised the issue of the impact hazard to civilization through an Adjournment Debate in Parliament, encouraging the Government to support a programme, called 'Spaceguard,' to discover potentially threatening asteroids in space before they discover us. He has proposed that the new National Spaceguard Centre should be located in Armagh.

We invite you to attend this function, which will begin with a short tour of the Observatory at 10:00am. Tea/coffee will be served at 11:00am, after which Professor Mark Bailey, Director of Armagh Observatory, will speak on the asteroid impact hazard and the proposed response by the international astronomical community. Mr Öpik will reply and present his gift to the Observatory. There will be an opportunity for photographs and questions immediately prior to the talks beginning at 11:15am, and after the presentation at approximately 12:00.

The meeting will adjourn for a buffet lunch at approximately 12:30pm and finish at 2:00pm.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: John McFarland at the Armagh Observatory. Tel.: 01861-522928 (work), 01762-879549 (home).

Last Revised: 15th June 1999
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