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Public Understanding of Science

The Observatory actively promotes public understanding of astronomy and related sciences through a programme of talks and public lectures, and by encouraging visits and tours of the Observatory by members of the public and small groups. The Observatory also issues press information sheets on recent developments in astronomy or research carried out at Armagh, the list for 2000 numbering 54 separate press releases on various meteorological or astronomical topics. Of these, it is remarkable that at least 51 were published in one form or another, demonstrating the very high level of public and media interest in astronomy and an exceptionally high `hit' rate ($ \sim$95%) for press releases.

Contacts with the press are largely the responsibility of the Librarian, who together with other staff frequently answers technical (and sometimes less technical) enquiries from members of the public on a wide variety of different aspects of astronomy, and what is visible or has been seen in the night sky. The recorded list of public enquiries for 2000, which is undoubtedly incomplete, encompasses almost 200 separate responses.




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