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.

Armagh is 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.

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

Europlanet 2024 RI has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 871149.


The Science & Technology Facilities councils currently funds three PDRA positions at AOP (ST/T000503/1, ST/V000233/1, ST/V000438/1) and several PhD studentships


The Leverhulme Trust is funding an Emeritus Fellowship (EM-2021-002) for AOP Emeritus Professor Gerry Doyle


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.

The Armagh Observatory and Planetarium is also committed to promote equality, diversity and inclusion in physics, having been awarded Practitioner status by the Juno project run by the Institute of Physics, as well as research integrity. Our policy on good practice in research can be found here.

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