Frequently Asked Questions

Questions about Armagh Observatory

1. What does the Observatory do?

Our main role is astronomical research. We study:

We also operate Armagh AstroPark and the Human Orrery which are interactive outdoor exhibits explaining our solar system and the universe to the public.

Many people visit our web site for information on the Leonid meteors and on the Near Earth Object impact hazard.

It is also our role to maintain the unique Observatory House and our collection of scientific Instruments.

2. When are the Star Shows?

Sorry, you are confusing us with Armagh Planetarium which is a separate but related organisation. Information about the Star Shows, and much more, is on their web site, They can be contacted via email at infoat

3. Can I visit the Observatory?

The Observatory building is not usually open to the public but the grounds and AstroPark are. However, you can arrange a visit by contacting John McFarland, email: jmfat or phone 028 3752 2928 and you can also pay a Virtual Visit.

4. Are there any publications about the Observatory?

Yes. The most comprehensive history is Church, State and Astronomy in Ireland by JA Bennett. Available online are a 1967 historical account by Patrick Moore and also a 1883 booklet by JLE Dreyer.
Another glossy booklet called The Way to the Stars by M. de Groot is available by contacting Aileen McKee, email: ambnat or phone 028 3752 2928.

Our most important publications are, of course, our research papers..

Questions about Astronomy

6. What was that object I saw in the sky?

There is no short and simple answer to this. Have a look at our Objects in the Sky page.

7. How do I become an astronomer?

Have a look at A Guide Book to Astronomy to see if this career would suit you. Then check out some questions which other people have asked about astronomy as a career. Duncan Forbes has written a useful article entitled "So you want to be a professional astronomer?".

8. What telescope should I buy?

Telescope Sale has some good advice for first time telescope buyers. You could also consider buying binoculars.

9. I have a question about astronomy/physics.

The Space Scientist has answers to a lot of commonly asked questions and to some less common ones. Ask An Astronomer also has answers to a lot of astronomy questions and has a wide variety of information. The FAQs from Viriginia Tech. are also good.

10. Is the Earth going to be hit by an asteroid?

Yes, it has been hit many times during the past billions of years and will be hit again in the future. You had better check out the collision rate and actuarial risk.

11. Will there be a meteor storm this year?

You can get lots of information about meteor storms from our Leonid's Page.

12. Can I look through a telescope?

The Armagh Planetarium organise telescope viewing nights during the winter. Contact them at contactat for more information.
The Irish Astronomical Association also organise public viewing nights. You can find information and contact details on our Bulletins Page.

Last Revised: 2012 January 26th