However, although the Observatory encourages visits to the Observatory, grounds and Astropark, and direct contact with members of the public, the main focus of its public outreach lies on serving a rapidly increasing number of e-visitors to its web-site (http://www.arm.ac.uk), and on mass-media interest in astronomy via the local and national press, radio and television. At the same time, the Observatory is keen to preserve the integrity of the historic buildings, instruments and archives in its possession, and to present the Observatory's rich scientific heritage to the greatest possible advantage. Modern electronic methods and modern communications dictate novel solutions to public understanding of science, and provide ways to reach large numbers of `visitors', far in excess of those that can be reached by purely physical means.
The programme of continual improvement to the Observatory web-site, overseen by the Starlink Manager Martin Murphy, has now led to a position where in 2000 the Observatory attracted more than 174,000 distinct e-visitors from more than 130 countries world-wide. This highlights the increasing role of the internet in the public understanding of science, and the growing role of the Armagh Observatory as one of the main gateways for the promotion of Northern Ireland on the world stage.