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The Armagh Observatory is hosting, or co- hosting as part of other events, two public lectures and two open days with tours during the period leading up to Easter.

There will be a public lecture in The Rotunda Lecture Theatre, St Patrick's Trian, Armagh at 7:30 pm on Wednesday 17 March. The lecture, "Patrick, Comets and Christianity," will be delivered by Professor Mike Baillie of the Palaeoecology Centre, The Queen's University of Belfast. Irish oaks first gave a clue that there had been a severe global climate event around AD 540. In trying to find out what caused this global environmental downturn, with associated famines and plague it became clear just how thin the historical record is around that time. This led to wondering just why we know so little about Saint Patrick. Everything about the fifth century - Patrick's century - was written down sometime after 540; apparently there are no contemporary Irish records. So, did the 540 event wipe out the earlier records? This is a question Professor Baillie will attempt to answer.

The second public lecture, in the same venue, will take place on Thursday, 1 April at 8:00 pm and is entitled: "The ESA Mars Express Mission to Mars." The speaker will be Belfast-born Michael McKay of the European Space Agency, ESTEC, The Netherlands.

Observatory tours. Tours of the Armagh Observatory and the Armagh Observatory Grounds and Astropark are arranged for Wednesday 17 March (St Patrick's Day), and Saturday 3 April 2004. Tours of the Observatory will last approximately 45 minutes; tours of the Observatory Grounds and Astropark will last a similar amount of time. The tours on Wednesday 17 March will be provided at: 11:00, 12:00, 14:00, 15:00 and 16:00. The tours on Saturday 3 April will be provided at: 14:00, 15:00 and 16:00.

All events are free of charge, however, owing to limited space, numbers may be restricted. Therefore, if you or groups with which you are involved are planning to attend one of these functions, please contact the Armagh Observatory as soon as possible in order to obtain your free tickets. For tickets and further details, please write, telephone or send an e-mail to: Mrs Aileen McKee, Armagh Observatory, College Hill, Armagh BT61 9DG; Tel: 028-3752-2928; e-mail: ambnarm.ac.uk 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; Website: http://star.arm.ac.uk/

Last Revised: 2004 February 24th
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