The Armagh Observatory is the oldest continuously functioning astronomical research institute in the UK and Ireland, founded by Archbishop Richard Robinson in 1790 as part of his dream to see a University in the City of Armagh. It stands close to the centre of the City of Armagh, together with the Armagh Planetarium, in approximately 14 acres of attractive, landscaped grounds that are managed by the Observatory and include a scale model of the solar system and the Universe known as the Armagh Astropark.
The principal function of the Armagh Observatory, a tertiary-level institute funded by the Northern Ireland Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure (DCAL), is to undertake original research of a world-class academic standard which broadens and expands our understanding of astronomy and related sciences. Current key programmes focus on Stellar Astrophysics, the Sun, Solar System astronomy, Sun-Earth relationships including Climate, and the Near-Earth Object hazard to civilization. The Observatory also maintains a unique 200-year long meteorological record and data-bank (climate.arm.ac.uk), the longest in the UK and Ireland from a single site. The Observatory currently receives an annual budget from the DCAL of approximately £500,000, and attracts additional funding, mostly through peer-reviewed external research grant applications to the UK Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council (PPARC), amounting to roughly half this figure, i.e. an average of £200,000-£300,000 per year.