The Armagh Observatory is a modern facility for astronomical research. Now, I can hear you thinking, “what does an observatory have to do with Northern Ireland tourism”. Maybe not much if it weren’t for the Armagh Planetarium located on the same premises which does an excellent job in bringing astronomy to the level understandable by the uninitiated. The two establishments together make up the Armagh Observatory and Planetarium.
The Observatory was established in 1790 by Archbishop Richard Robinson who had not only a religious but also a physical and scientific interest in heaven. Currently it is the workplace of about 25 astronomers and is arguably one of the UK’s foremost scientific institutions.
While I do take a casual interest in astronomy I have to confess that the Armagh Planetarium is what appeals most to me. It was opened in 1968. Not only does it present astronomical information in easy to understand ways, but it is also a great place to take children in the knowledge that they will not only enjoy good recreation but also have an educational experience. My children certainly enjoyed our Armagh planetarium trip.
Highlights in the Planetarium
A key attraction in the planetarium is the digital theater that presents a number of shows appropriate to different ages. Another favorite is the rocket launching where children are shown how to build and launch small rockets powered by water and compressed air. This is an outdoor activity carried out on certain days and depends on the weather which in Northern Ireland can be undependable! Beyond these there is a host of other exhibits and activities that will keep children and you occupied and enthused. And not to be overlooked, the Planetarium also offers courses on basic astronomy to interested individuals. That sounds like a good hobby to pick up.
All in all the Observatory and Planetarium is one of the UK’s foremost observatories/planetariums and is well worth a visit.
Armagh Planetarium, College Hill, Armagh BT61 9DB
Tel. +44 28 3752 3689
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