Free Tours of Armagh Observatory for Georgian Day

The Armagh Observatory is opening its doors on Saturday 29th November as part of Armagh’s Georgian Day celebrations organized by the Armagh City and District Council. Two free 2-hour guided tours of the Astropark, the main Observatory Grade A listed building and the Human Orrery will begin outside the main building complex at 11:30 and 14:00. Owing to limitations of space, advance booking is recommended, and because much of the tour is outside appropriate clothing should be worn.

The Observatory was founded in 1789 and this year celebrates its 225th anniversary. It is the oldest scientific institution in Northern Ireland, with a rich heritage of frontline scientific research in astronomy and related sciences, including climate. Current research programmes cover Solar-System astronomy, Solar Physics, and Stellar and Galactic Astrophysics.

The Observatory is located close to the centre of the City of Armagh in approximately 14 acres of attractive, landscaped grounds known as the Armagh Astropark. Its main driveway entrance, shared with the Armstrong Primary School, can be found near the Courthouse at the north end of the Mall.

The Grounds and Astropark contain scale models of the Solar System and the wider Universe, a pleasant woodland walk and a wide range of flora and fauna. Of particular interest close to the main building is the Human Orrery, the first of its kind to show with precision the relative positions of the planets at any time as well as two comets (Halley’s Comet and Encke’s Comet) and the first asteroid, namely Ceres, discovered on the first night of the nineteenth century.

Adjacent to the main Grade A Georgian listed building, constructed from 1789, is the 1841 Sector Tower. On top of this feature is erected a version of the Robinson Cup-Anemometer, a device for measuring wind speed, dating from around 1870. The instrument was invented in the 1840s by the Observatory’s third director, the Revd Dr Thomas Romney Robinson, in response to the exceptional "Big Wind" on 6th January 1839. At that time nobody knew how to measure wind speed, and the scientific principles behind the Robinson Cup-Anemometer can now be seen underlying the design of many similar instruments worldwide.

During the Observatory part of the tour you will learn something about the Observatory’s history and current scientific research, and see how the work carried out at Armagh fits into the wider programmes of astronomical research carried out by research astronomers worldwide.

Those who wish to join the tours should telephone or send an e-mail to the Armagh Visitor Information Centre; Tel: 028-3752-1800; E-mail: vicat signarmagh.gov.uk. Access to the Observatory is from College Hill by the driveway shared with the Armstrong Primary School, close to the Courthouse and opposite the Royal Irish Fusiliers Museum.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION PLEASE CONTACT: Mark Bailey at the Armagh Observatory, College Hill, Armagh, BT61 9DG. Tel.: 028-3752-2928; FAX: 028-3752-7174; mebat signarm.ac.uk; URL: star.arm.ac.uk.

Last Revised: 2014 November 12th