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Astronomers on the island of Ireland find common ground under the stars

Collaboration between observatories from Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland demonstrates how science can transcend politics.

It is one of the best-kept secrets in the country that the island has made a contribution to astronomical science.

Since more than 200, the observatories at Dunsink near Dublin and Armagh, Northern Ireland, have played a key role in scientific discoveries.

Image Armagh Observatory’s telescope is an ‘astronomical piece of history’

The oldest telescope in the world is still located at Armagh Observatory, a “real piece of astronomical heritage”.


Michael Burton, the director of the observatory explained: “The NGC is the new general catalog, and it’s probably the work that we are most famous for.

This is a catalog of the most fascinating objects in the night skies, the nebulae. It was mapped using a working telescope.

Dunsink Observatory, a world-renowned observatory for astronomy and mathematics, is well known around the globe.

Northern Ireland: More Information

Here, Sir Rowan William Hamilton, an ex-royal astronomer in Ireland, invented linear algebra.

Students at Dunsink, Netherlands are studying the sun today using data collected by the European Space Agency solar orbiter mission.

Universities on both sides of border have joined forces to construct a radiotelescope – LOFAR – at Birr Castle in County Offaly.

Dunsink students use ESA data for study of the sun
Image: Gallagher said the telescope allows them to study the effects of explosions on Earth

Peter Gallagher said, “This telescope allows us to study explosions on our sun and their effects on our planet.”

It helps us look at exoplanets – small or large planets that orbit around other stars.

It’s helping to understand the origins of the universe and where the galaxies, stars and even us came from.

Image Mullan states that the partnership is at a time “when we need to hope”

The first cross-border agreement in the history of science was signed by governments from north and south.

The island will retain its research status if the partnership between observatories is renewed.

Caitriona Mulan, the strategic advisor for the project, stated that the partnership is coming at a “time when we need hope”.

She said: “I think it is very valuable to reflect on those jewels of scientific research that were created in the Age of Enlightenment, because of the recognition of science’s role in the development of knowledge for humans and the democratization of knowledge.”


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