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Lindsay Centennial Conference


Officially opening the Lindsay conference (left to right): Professor Tom Ray (Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies); Mr Tom Hanney and Ms Mary Bunting, Joint Secretaries, North/South Ministerial Council; Dr Maire Brűck; Professor Mark Bailey; and Dr Niall Holohan.

A one-day conference and a public lecture organized by the Armagh Observatory was held in the Rotunda Theatre, St Patrick's Trian, Armagh on Friday, January 26th. The conference was arranged to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the birth of Dr Eric Mervyn Lindsay, a former Director of the Armagh Observatory, and highlighted his life and scientific contributions. Mr Tom Hanney and Ms Mary Bunting, Joint Secretaries of the North/South Ministerial Council, which is based in Armagh, opened the proceedings.

Eric Lindsay raised the profile of the Armagh Observatory on the international scene soon after his appointment in 1937. As part of this effort, he acquired the services of the world-famous Estonian astronomer, Ernst Öpik. Öpik was a pioneer investigator of the asteroid impact hazard, publishing a paper on this topic in 1951.

Lindsay also helped to establish the world's first international astronomical observatory at the Harvard Observatory Boyden Station near Bloemfontein, South Africa, installing there a large photographic telescope to accumulate observations for his study of the southern skies. Lindsay was also the founder of the Armagh Planetarium which opened to the public in 1968 after a quarter of a century of effort on Lindsay's part, while he endeavoured to raise the capital finance for the building. The popular television astronomer, Patrick Moore, was the first Director of the Armagh Planetarium.

The conference also presented current developments in astrophysical research highlighting the strong links that exist between the Observatory and university groups throughout the island of Ireland. Astronomers from Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland gave presentations on the nature of brown dwarfs (objects between stars and planets in size, which do not quite reach the stage of thermonuclear reactions to become true stars); the Sun's atmosphere and the origin of the fast outflows of electrically charged particles that comprise the solar wind; recent findings in regard to our knowledge of the solar system; and pulsars and supernovae.

The conference concluded with a public lecture at 7:30 p.m. by the noted historian of science and television presenter Dr Allan Chapman, University of Oxford, entitled: "Robert Ball: Ireland's Astronomical Muse." The lecture was well received by the capacity audience of nearly a hundred people.

A weeklong exhibition, featuring some Lindsay memorabilia and photographs charting his life and scientific career, continues in St Patrick's Trian until Friday, February 2nd. Further information on the conference is available here. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION PLEASE CONTACT: John McFarland at the Armagh Observatory, College Hill, Armagh, BT61 9DG. Tel.: 028-3752-2928; FAX: 028-3752-7174; jmfat signarm.ac.uk; URL: http://star.arm.ac.uk/.

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Last Revised: 2007 January 29th
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