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First Cross-Border Schools Astronomy Conference Takes Place in Armagh

On Thursday 8th and Friday 9th March, 260 students from secondary schools in Belfast, Armagh, Dublin, Dundalk, Drogheda, Dungannon, Kilkeel, Cookstown, Fermanagh, Monaghan and Westmeath will come together for the first ever Cross-Border Schools Astronomy Conference. The conference, with the title Discover the Stars at Armagh: Cross-Border Schools Science Conference 2007, is jointly organised by the Centre for Cross Border Studies, the Armagh Observatory, the Armagh Planetarium and the Royal School Armagh.

At the two-day conference, the students (most of them aged 13-14) will learn about astronomy (and related sciences) and mathematics, using the facilities of the Observatory and the Planetarium, a combination on the same site which is unique in Ireland. They will hear a lecture from a leading astronomer, Dr Robert Walsh of the University of Central Lancashire, who will speak on 'Living with a Star'. They will then tour and do projects in the Planetarium's Star Show and Exhibition Area, and the Observatory's Astropark and Human Orrery.

The conference has two aims: First, to encourage young people at a key point in their school lives to think about the excitement of science, and to consider it as a possible career at a time when the low take-up of science subjects at school and university is an issue of great concern to government and industry. Secondly to encourage cross-border links between secondary school students and their teachers.

At this year's conference, there will be a particular emphasis on the heliosphere, the immense magnetic bubble shaped by the solar wind and containing our solar system, since 2007 marks International Heliophysical Year (IHY). This is one of the first IHY events to be organized in Ireland (see IHY Features ). It is intended that this cross-border schools conference should become an annual event. This year's conference is funded by the Northern Ireland Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure, under its Skills and Science Programme, and the Irish Department of Education and Science.

See also: Schools Conference Web Page

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION PLEASE CONTACT: Dr Miruna Popescu or Professor Mark Bailey, Armagh Observatory, Tel. 028-3752-2928, Email: mdpat signarm.ac.uk; mebat signarm.ac.uk, or Patricia McAllister, Conference Organiser, Centre for Cross Border Studies, Tel. 028-3751-1550, Email: p.mcallisterat signqub.ac.uk

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Last Revised: 2007 March 8th
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