Looking to the future, the Observatory seeks to expand its research base and consolidate its strengths in stellar astrophysics and solar system astronomy. A high priority is to strengthen its capability in the cool star arena (following a decline in this area with the death of Dr P. Brendan Byrne in 1997), in order to complement the highly successful solar and stellar astrophysics groups and to take advantage of the Observatory's involvement in the Southern African Large Telescope and new UK national facilities, including access to the European Southern Observatory (ESO).
The Observatory also seeks to appoint additional staff in solar system astronomy, to capitalise on expected developments in this area and the likelihood that new government or EU funding opportunities will be announced for research into planetary science and exploration of the solar system, possibly including various aspects of the near-Earth object (NEO) impact hazard to civilization. The Armagh Observatory has taken the lead in the UK to bring this subject to the attention of government and the general public, and it is right that it should be in a strong position to take advantage of expected developments in this area.
The Observatory also needs to strengthen its capability in the growing area of meteorology, climatology and environmental science. This will be addressed by recruiting a meteorologist or climatologist with interests and expertise in the problem of global warming (and cooling), and in how extraterrestrial processes (e.g. the variable Sun, and comet/asteroid impacts and interplanetary dust) affect the Earth and contribute globally to environmental change.
None of these future plans will come to fruition unless the Observatory can secure sufficient resources to do the job.