Official Press Releases

Interdisciplinary Exhibition Launch in Armagh


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 created by children during International Year of Astronomy Astro-Art Fun workshops and entries to the Second Cross-Border Schools Conference art competition, both events organized by the Armagh Observatory with the help of other partners.

The exhibition was opened by Professor Mark Bailey, Director of the Armagh Observatory, in the presence of Maria McAlister from the Arts Council of Northern…

OASES Exhibition launch in Armagh

NEW: photos from the opening: click here

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Armagh Observatory, 2 November 2009: An interdisciplinary exhibition bringing together science, education and art, named "Over us All is the SElfsame Sky" (OASES) will open at 11:00 am on Monday 9 November in the Rotunda Gallery, St Patrick's Trian, Armagh. The exhibition is part of a series of Astro-Art events held to celebrate the UN International Year of Astronomy 2009 and it will be launched with a performance of music, poetry and dance by pupils from Mount St. Catherine's Primary School, Armagh and the Armagh Rhymers.

The astronomy-themed exhibition contains paintings by astronomer Miruna Popescu of Armagh Observatory and artist Dara Vallely of the Armagh Rhymers, as well as work done in Astro-Art Fun workshops by children from schools as far apart as Omagh, Armagh and Dublin. The launch is open to the public and everyone is welcome to attend.

Funding to support this exhibition and the associated work in schools has been provided by the Republic of Ireland's Discover Science and Engineering (DSE) programme and the Armagh Observatory through core funding from Northern Ireland's Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure.


Armagh Children Participate in International Symposium

light-pollution-wsArmagh Observatory, 11 September 2009:   Boys and girls from Mount St. Catherine's Primary School, Armagh, will take part in an inspirational Astro-art workshop associated with the International symposium "Light Pollution and its Impact" at the Market Place Theatre, Armagh, on Friday 18 September 2009. The conference is largely supported by the Republic of Ireland's "Discover Science and Engineering" (DSE) programme and the Armagh Observatory through core funding from Northern Ireland's Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure.

"Our Planet", one of the paintings made during a previous workshop by a pupil from St Joseph's Secondary School in Rush (Co Dublin)

The title of the children's contribution, "The Dragon's Egg", is inspired by an ancient Irish myth associated with seeing comets in the sky. The workshop is one of the conference's two Education Sessions led by Robert Hill (Northern Ireland Space Office at Armagh Planetarium). It involves an innovative collaboration between members of the Armagh Rhymers (Dara Vallely, Peter Shortall and Seve Lally), staff from Mount St. Catherine's Primary School (Anne Hart, Brenda Campbell and Briege Delaney) and astronomer Miruna Popescu from…

Free Astro-Art Fun Workshop and Amazing Astronomy Images in Lurgan Library


Armagh Observatory, 27 July 2009:  A major exhibition, featuring some of the best astronomical images ever taken, is on display in the Lurgan Library until the end of July. The exhibition, called "From Earth To The Universe", is one of the Armagh Observatory and Lurgan Library’s contributions to the International Year of Astronomy 2009 (IYA2009). The Belfast-based Irish Astronomical Association is working together with Armagh Observatory and the all-Ireland node for IYA2009 to display the exhibition at various locations in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

Dr Miruna Popescu of Armagh Observatory, who designed the exhibition, said: "I am so pleased that Lurgan Library has agreed to display these large posters. It is a wonderful venue and a great advertisement for astronomers worldwide. The exhibition helps to explain what astronomers here in Armagh and elsewhere are up to. The images open our eyes to the vastness of the Universe and they are simply beautiful!"

On Thursday 30 July 2009, Miruna together with the Lurgan Library will provide a free ASTRO-ART FUN workshop aimed at children aged 8 to 12. Come and paint the stars, the planets and our solar system! To book a…

Cosmos Versus Canvas

090625-JayanneEnglish-talkArmagh Observatory, 20 July 2009: Dr Jayanne English of the University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada will deliver a free public lecture at the Armagh Planetarium on Tuesday 4th August at 7:30 pm, entitled "Cosmos versus Canvas: Tensions between Art and Science in Astronomy Images". This is part of the Armagh Observatory's programme of events to support the United Nations International Year of Astronomy 2009.

Dr English is an outstanding speaker who uses bold colour images from telescopes to act as extraordinary ambassadors for astronomers because they provoke huge curiosity in people's minds. The images are especially popular during this International Year of Astronomy, but raise the question whether the snapshots are documenting physical reality or are merely artistic "space-scapes" created by digitally manipulating astronomical images.

The lecture will provide a tour of how original black-and-white data, for example from the Hubble Space Telescope, are converted into the familiar colour images gracing newspapers and magazines. Each image can be regarded as a battlefield where the attempt by scientists to represent their discoveries accurately all but drowns out the artistic voice…

Belfast Looks to the Sky for Inspiration

iya-belfast-carnivalIYA2009-Ireland, 30 June 2009: The International Year of Astronomy 2009 is a global celebration of astronomy and this month in Belfast, Northern Ireland, the Belfast City Council is recognising the contribution of space to society through a myriad of social events. 

The "From Earth To The Universe"  UK outdoor exhibition, on the grounds of the Belfast City Hall, offers the passer-by a great visual and entertaining cosmic spectacular on the lawns of the City Hall until 17 July. 

"Look up!" was the title for the Carnival, officially endorsed by the new Alliance lord mayor Naomi Long.   

BEAT, Belfast’s carnival company, has been working with artists and community groups from all across the city to bring the streets alive on Carnival day. 

A celestial feast of astronauts, astronomers, Sun and Moon worshippers, Men in Black, Cybermen and a varied selection of visitors from other worlds walked and danced on the streets of Belfast, much to the delight of the massed crowds. 

The carnival concluded with a fantastic half-an-hour concert of space themed rock music, performed by the Carnival Supergroup.

"This was such a tremendous success", said Robert Hill, Director of the Northern Ireland…

Lord Mayor invites city to "Look Up" for Carnival fun

BCarnival2009Launch3elfast City Council, 9 June 2008: Belfast’s new Lord Mayor, Councillor Naomi Long, will be inviting the people of the city to literally ‘Look Up’ at the stars later this month.

The Belfast City Carnival will help celebrate the International Year of Astronomy, when one of the highlights of the city’s cultural calendar takes to the streets on Saturday 27 June.

The carnival officially introduces the new Lord Mayor to the people of Belfast.  Giant floats, big stilt-costumes and hundreds of performers will parade through the city centre, as participants and onlookers alike explore the stars and the universe.

“Over the past few years, the Belfast City Carnival has changed and evolved, and has become a cornerstone of our cultural calendar,” commented Councillor Long, who was elected Lord Mayor last week.

“At a time when central government is cutting back on its support for such events, Belfast City Council remains totally committed to supporting cultural activity in all four corners of the city.  Last year, we invested £1.6 million in culture and arts groups, from grassroots level up, not counting the substantial investment we are making, on an ongoing basis, in the continued development of…

Second Cross-Border Science Conference "Great Success"

Armagh Observatory, 5th May 2009: The Second Cross-Border Schools Science Conference “Discover the Stars at Armagh”, held on 29th and 30th April 2009 and organized by the Armagh Observatory and the Centre for Cross Border Studies was a great success.  The meeting brought together around 250 students aged 13 to 14 (Key Stage 3) from more than a dozen schools on both sides of the Border to learn about astronomy, mathematics and related sciences using the facilities of the Armagh Observatory and the Armagh Planetarium, a combination on the same sight unique on the island of Ireland.  

Over the two days of the conference, more than 250 students from schools as far away as Belfast, Dublin and Mullingar participated in a programme of activities lasting from approximately 10:00am to 3.00pm.  These included a plenary lecture “The Science of Armageddon” by leading astronomer Jay Tate, director of the Spaceguard Centre, Knighton, Powys, and a cycle of structured educational activities in the Armagh Planetarium (Exhibition Area and Show), and the Observatory’s Library (Meteorite Workshop) and Human Orrery.  Plenary sessions and lunch were held in the Royal School Armagh. 

Feedback from…

Discover the Stars at Armagh

Armagh Observatory / The Centre for Cross-Border Studies, 28 April 2009: Discover the Stars at Armagh’, the second Cross-Border Schools Science conference, takes place at the Royal School Armagh, Armagh Observatory and the Armagh Planetarium on Wednesday 29th and Thursday 30th April 2009. The Centre for Cross Border Studies is also a partner in this event. 

250 pupils aged 13-14 from schools in Belfast, Dublin, Armagh, Monaghan, Keady, Banbridge, Portadown, Carrickmacross, Dundalk and Westmeath are attending the conference. The conference runs from 10 am to 3 pm on both days. 

Opening the conference, the Director of the Armagh Observatory, Professor Mark Bailey, said the conference series owes its genesis to a 2007 Northern Ireland government initiative called “Skills and Science” and to funding from the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure in Northern Ireland and the Department of Education and Science and the acclaimed “Discover Science and Engineering” programme in the Republic of Ireland.  The first conference was held in Armagh in March 2007. 

Professor Bailey said: “These science initiatives, North and South, are designed to promote innovative projects aimed at stimulating…

The International Space Station becomes the second brightest object in the night sky

Armagh Observatory, 24th March 2009: The International Space Station (ISS) has recently become the second brightest object in the night sky — even brighter than the planet Venus, and second only to the Moon.  Evenings will provide the chance of a spectacular view, if the sky is clear, as for the next few days the orbit of the ISS around the Earth repeatedly takes it over Ireland.

The ISS periodically makes a series of passes above Ireland. But what is special now is that the Space Station has just become brighter than ever before. At its best, it is now the second brightest object in the night sky. This is because, on 20th March, astronauts fixed a new pair of solar arrays to the Station, adding nearly 1,000 square metres of light-catching area to the station's profile. The International Space Station is now the biggest, brightest man-made object orbiting the Earth.  The Station's solar arrays are now almost as wide as a football field. The extra area increases the luminosity of the ISS as viewed— by means of the sunlight it reflects — from the Earth.

Easily viewed passes of the ISS occur every evening until Monday 30th March. Some passes are brighter than others, and the times of…

International Year of Astronomy in Full Swing


The Irish Node for the International Year of Astronomy is announcing a huge programme of events running throughout 2009 all across Ireland. The International Year of Astronomy in Ireland (IYA2009-Ireland), lead by Professor Michael Redfern (NUI Galway), Robert Hill (Norther Ireland Space Office) and Dr Miruna Popescu (Armagh Observatory), is supported by Discover Science and EngineeringDuring the year there will be many public stargazing events organised with all of the Irish astronomical societies and clubs on the island, public talks and educational events for all ages and abilities. Highlights include:

From Earth to the Universe’: an exhibition of some of the best astronomical images ever taken.

100 hours of astronomy’: a round-the-clock, round-the-globe event on 2-5 April that includes live webcasts from research observatories and public observing events all around Ireland.

Universe Awareness (UNAWE)’: an international programme that exposes young children in under-privileged environments to the scale and beauty of the Universe, through astro-art workshops and other fun activities.

She is an astronomer’ - a cornerstone that promotes gender equality in astronomy and science…

Amazing Astronomy Images on Display in St Patrick's Trian, Armagh

Armagh Observatory, 16th March 2009: A major new exhibition, featuring some of the best astronomical images ever taken, is currently on display in St. Patrick’s Trian, Armagh. The exhibition, called “From Earth to the Universe (FETTU)”, is one of the Armagh Observatory’s contributions to the International Year of Astronomy 2009 (IYA2009), designated by the United Nations to celebrate the four-hundredth anniversary of Galileo’s first use of a telescope for astronomical observations.

The exhibition was opened on Saturday 14th March in the presence of Professor David Southwood, Director of Science and Robotic Exploration at the European Space Agency, at a joint public lecture organized by the Armagh Observatory and the Armagh Natural History and Philosophical Society.  FETTU is an international outreach programme designed to provide high-quality, high-resolution images specifically for outdoor and travelling astronomical exhibitions, and is one of the cornerstone outreach projects of IYA2009. 

One of the largest amateur astronomy societies in Ireland, the Irish Astronomical Association, is working together with Armagh Observatory and the UK and Ireland Node for IYA2009 to display the…

Telescope Challenge for schools is launched as part of the International Year of Astronomy 2009 

The Faulkes Telescopes Universe Challenge will be launched today (Thursday, 8 January) at the BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition in the RDS, as part of the Irish celebrations of the International Year of Astronomy 2009. Transition Year students, and their equivalents in Northern Ireland, will be asked to take part in scientific research projects involving the Faulkes Telescopes. The state-of-the-art, 2m diameter telescopes are situated on mountain-top sites in Australia and Hawaii, and can be remotely operated by school groups. 
Telescope Challenge for Schools is Launched as Part of International Year of Astronomy 2009
Members of the professional astronomy community in universities and institutes throughout the island of Ireland will suggest research projects and assist school students in their delivery. On the basis of their results, to be presented at the Galway Science and Technology Festival in October 2009, the best group, including their teacher and professional mentor, will be invited to visit the Chilean Observatories of the European Southern Observatory. There they will see one of the world s best telescopes and try out one of the smaller telescopes for their own research. 

The International Year of Astronomy (IYA2009) is a…

The Irish Times Reports: Midnight takes us into year to mark the telescope

By LORNA SIGGINS, The Irish Times, 31 December 2008:         A “LEAP second” added to clocks around the world, the longest total solar eclipse of the 21st century, and a Galway university professor dressed as Galileo Galilei – these are some of the highlights of the International Year of Astronomy which starts across the world tomorrow.

Some 135 states are participating in the programme initiated by Unesco and the International Astronomical Union to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Galileo’s first observations by telescope.

Although the official opening is in Paris in a fortnight’s time, the first event has already been staged in Ireland, with live internet coverage 10 days ago of the winter solstice at Newgrange, Co Meath.

“It’s fantastic to think that Ireland got in there first, and I guess the solstice is new year anyway for many people” says Prof Michael Redfern of NUI Galway, who is co-ordinating Ireland’s participation.

Tonight, five planets and the moon will be visible over Ireland in the same stretch of sky, while the leap second decreed for all clocks on New Year’s Eve is designed to ensure that our Gregorian calendar system stays in alignment with the celestial calendar.

Minister Martin Mansergh announces collaboration with International Year of Astronomy on webcast of 2008 Newgrange Winter Solstice

16 December 2008, NUI Galway:  Dr. Martin Mansergh TD, Minister of State at the Department of Finance with special responsibility for the Office of Public Works today announced broadcast details of this year’s Winter Solstice at Newgrange, County Meath.  Minister Mansergh said “last year, for the first time ever, the Office of Public Works (OPW) broadcast a live internet web stream of the iconic sunrise in the 5,000 year old chamber at Newgrange, County Meath.  Many thousands of people all around the world tuned in to enjoy coverage and I am delighted, this year, to announce that we are providing a similar live stream of the event on our Heritage Ireland website,  In addition, Free to Air coverage will be available to any television outlets who wish to broadcast the event.”

The Minister continued “this year also sees an exciting collaboration between my Office and the International Year of Astronomy (IYA2009).  Ireland will be the first country in the world to mark the start of the International Year of Astronomy 2009 with this special event and we are happy to work in partnership with IYA 2009, Discover Science & Engineering and NUI Galway , the main…


Armagh Observatory, 18th December 2008:  Astronomers throughout the island of Ireland are marking the shortest day of the year, on 21st December, with a special live web-cast of the iconic moment when the rays of the rising sun shine directly into the 5,000 year-old burial chamber at Newgrange, County Meath.  The web-cast can be seen from 9.00am on Sunday 21st December at  This event will mark the start of the United Nations International Year of Astronomy 2009 (IYA2009), 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.

The Irish national node for IYA2009 has arranged an exciting all-Ireland programme of events for school children and the general public, to run throughout the year.  It will be launched at the BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition, at the Royal Dublin Society, on 7th January 2009.   Professor Michael Redfern, Chair and Single Point of Contact for the all-Ireland IYA2009 activities, and Director of Astronomy, NUI Galway, said “The Newgrange event is the perfect way to mark the coming Year of Astronomy. Newgrange…

 International Year of Astronomy, Ireland National Node