Introduction to Research at AOP

The Armagh Observatory and Planetarium provides a strong, positive image of Northern Ireland on the international stage.

Members of its research staff play a full role in the international astronomical community. They publish their research in international refereed journals, present their results at international conferences, assess grant and research proposals on behalf of external funding agencies,  review scientific papers and edit international academic journals.

In addition, staff have access to world-class international facilities provided through the Science & Technology Facility Council (STFC) and UK Government subscriptions and bilateral agreements, or collaborations involving individual researchers. Staff regularly obtain telescope time on international facilities, including the Dunn Solar Telescope at Sacramento Peak Observatory, the Goode Solar Telescope at Big Bear Solar Observatory, the Mopra radio telescope in Australia, the ESO Very Large Telescope and 18 various spacecraft missions (such as SoHO, SDO, Hinode, Stereo, Swift, XMM-Newton and the Hubble Space Telescope).

Furthermore, through our membership of the UK SALT Consortium (UKSC), AOP’s researchers have access to the 11-metre diameter Southern African Large Telescope (SALT) located at the Sutherland Observatory, South Africa.

Academic staff obtain research grants from a wide range of grant awarding bodies (e.g. STFC, the Royal Society, the Leverhulme Trust), as well as contributing to raising funding also towards AOP education, outreach and heritage initiatives.

Armagh is also a member of the international consortia involved with the GOTO (Gravitational-wave Optical Transient Observer) and DKIST (Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope) optical, LOFAR (LOw FRequency Array) radio and the CTA (Cherenkov Telescope Array) gamma-ray telescopes. Complementing these international facilities, restoration of the Observatory’s historic telescopes has brought opportunities to reintroduce some visual observing from Armagh, while new computer and camera technology has enabled a variety of new automatic observational programmes to be introduced from Armagh, recording data autonomously whenever the sky is clear.

The Northern Ireland Space Strategy, developed by Invest NI, recognises the Space Sector as a significant emerging market encompassing industry, academia and government. The Strategy outlines the critical role that will be played by the Sector in addressing the key challenges facing the human race both now and in the future.

It outlines a vision for Northern Ireland as a globally recognised region for space sector innovation and creativity.

Researchers at AOP have long been involved in cutting edge research initiatives that enhance the organisation’s and Northern Ireland’s reputation, nationally and internationally. Our research also contributes to increases opportunities for Northern Ireland to attract additional funding for further collaborative and stand-alone research projects.

These projects make significant contributions to both global understanding of the cosmos and to the wider Northern Ireland Economy.

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