Pupils from two schools in Armagh won eight of the prizes of the national astronomy competition run by the Irish Astronomical Association as part of the International Year of Astronomy 2009. To celebrate this achievement, a prize award ceremony is being held on Friday 16th of April in Mount St Catherine's Primary School, Armagh.
James Leetch and Edie Mea McCarthey from the Royal School Armagh won first prizes in the intermediate and junior art category of the "Space and Aliens Astronomy Competition". Orlaith O'Halloran, Kaneesha O'Hara, Emma Murtagh, Dylan McCann and Paulina Harabin from Mount St Catherine's Primary School Armagh were winners in junior categories of art, essays and poetry.
This competition, and the associated International Year of Astronomy activities during 2009, have been supported by the Republic of Ireland's "Discover Science and Engineering" programme.
Terry Moseley from the Irish Astronomical Association, one of the leading figures in amateur astronomy in Ireland, Miruna Popescu of Armagh Observatory, coordinator of the International Year of Astronomy, Irish national node, and Peter Gildea, Principal of Mount St Catherine's School Armagh, are the main organizers of the event.
Joan Shine, adviser for science with the Southern Education and Library Board, and Breda Naughton, principal officer in the Department of Education and Science's Integration Unit, have been invited as special guests to the ceremony.
The Armagh Rhymers, who have also kindly accepted the invitation, will showcase, together with some of the pupils from Mount St Catherine's school, some of the astronomy songs that form part of their new repertoire. Their songs are the start of a new project called OASES, in which, together with Miruna Popescu, they use astronomy as a way of bringing people together "under the selfsame sky". OASES, a peace and reconciliation project supported by the European Union through the Southern Cluster Partnership, is also part of UNAWE (Universe Awareness for Young Children), an international outreach activity that inspires young disadvantaged children with the beauty and grandeur of the Universe.