International Year of Astronomy in Ireland

The International Year of Astronomy (IYA2009) is a global celebration of astronomy and its contributions to society and culture, highlighted by the 400th anniversary of the first use of an astronomical telescope by Galileo Galilei. This website is a place where you can find information about current local events, as well as science news on the global astronomy stage. Click here for a pdf document with the official IYA2009-Ireland programme.




In the last day of the International Year of Astronomy (early evening of 31 December 2009), the Moon had the smallest partial eclipse that we have seen in Ireland and the UK for 40 years: the Moon was 8% covered by the Earth's shadow.  Incidentally, this was also a "Blue Moon" - the name given for the second full Moon within a calendar month. Here there are the pictures sent to us by Bernard Kelleghan and Jonathan Bingham. Thank you very much!

Featured Image

Moon over Armagh on Christmas Eve - Miruna Popescu

"Christmas Moon", painting by Miruna Popescu, Armagh Observatory, featured as "Lunar photo of the Day" and "Astronomy Sketch of the Day" on 25 December 2009.

This painting depicts the southern sky on 24 December 2009 at 5:30 pm, when the Moon’s phase reaches first quarter. The next brightest celestial object at this time is the planet Jupiter, which this year is the “Christmas Star” for the Royal School, Armagh, Ireland. Jupiter is seen here just before it disappears behind the school. 

The painting shows stars in Pisces, Pegasus, Aquarius and other constellations, and the location of the planet Uranus (visible through a telescope) about a third of the way from the Moon to Jupiter. 

Uranus was found in 1781 (seven years after the old building of the Royal School was completed) by the…



The "Story of the Christmas Star" continues in Northern Ireland: on Friday 11 December 2009 it was at the Windmill Integrated Primary School in Dungannon.  

During the UNAWE Astro-Art Fun workshops, held by Miruna Popescu from Armagh Observatory, the children have listened to the story and then made their own interpretation of the story on the individually designed Christmas cards and creative paintings. 

Merry Christmas to all of you from children in Dungannon!

Astronomy Competitions

Astronomy Competitions


  • Astronomy Festival: 12/13 February 2010, Galway
  • ESO and the EELT: Tue 15 December, DCU, Dublin
  • Astronomy Ireland's Christmas talk: Mon 14 Dec, TCD, Dublin
  • SETI: Monday 7 December Ballyclare
  • Cosmic Christmas to be launched on Friday 4 December at Blackrock Castle Observatory
  • The Small Bodies of the outer Solar System: Wed 2 December, Belfast
  • Portraits of Astronomers: Opening in Armagh on Thur 19 November
  • Over us All is the SElfsame Sky
  • IAS Public Star Party: Fri 30 Oct, Martello Tower car park
  • Exploring the Universe: 9 - 13 Nov, Cork

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    Official Press Releases


    Armagh Observatory, 12 November 2009: A new interdisciplinary exhibition combining arts, science and education was opened on Monday 9 November in St Patrick's Trian, Armagh. The exhibition's title, "Over us All is the SElfsame Sky" (OASES), a verse from the "Ulster Names" poem by John Hewitt, emphasizes an obvious but rather neglected point: that we all share the same beautiful sky. The exhibition is the first example of a new astronomy-outreach programme that highlights the power of astronomy to stimulate the mind and provide a source of inspiration for everyone, and young children in particular.


    The innovative and very colourful exhibition contains paintings by astronomer Miruna Popescu of Armagh Observatory and artist Dara Vallely of the Armagh Rhymers, as well as about 100 paintings…

    See the IYA 2009 trailer with Irish subtitles

    See the IYA 2009 trailer with Irish subtitles

    Click here for larger size Irish versions

    Watch it on YouTube

    Press & Web Coverage

    Some links from press coverage and other websites referencing IYA2009-Ireland. Click here to to see more press cuttings.

    Site Map

    Meet the IYA2009-Ireland Secretariat

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    Organisational Associates

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     International Year of Astronomy, Ireland National Node