We live in an age when dazzling astronomical imagery is everywhere. We are privileged to have immediate access to close ups of the worlds of the Solar System thanks to interplanetary probes and stunning panoramas of nebula and galaxies thanks to hi-tech observatories. But to experience and to feel completely in touch with the marvels of the Universe you cannot beat directly seeing them for yourself with your own eyes. Here is how we can help. Armagh Planetarium is happy to announce that we will be hosting public telescope viewing sessions as part of our regular programme of free late evening openings.

The Planetarium has invested in a 12 inch telescope on a Dobsonian mount and I have been getting to grips with this impressive beast over the past few weeks. I am delighted with the views I have obtained of the Moon, planets and deep sky objects and I think our visitors will be fascinated too.


image of M42_14 jan2013

1300 light years away. M42, the Great Nebula in Orion, imaged through Armagh Planetarium’s telescope in January 2013. This was a 30 second exposure to capture the colours. (Image credit: Colin Johnston/Armagh Planetarium)


Image of Andromeda 14jan2013

2.2 million light years away. M31, the Andromeda Galaxy, imaged with the new telescope in January 2013. The galaxy’s core stands out and the spiral arms are just visible. You can also see the small companion galaxy M32 at centre left. (Image credit: Colin Johnston/Armagh Planetarium)


IMage of Moon 19 feb 2013

1.2 light seconds away. The Moon seen in February 2013. For most of human history as detailed a view of our natural satellite as this was impossible. Image taken with an iPod Touch. (Image credit: Colin Johnston/Armagh Planetarium)


Observing sessions will be held at the Planetarium after the evening Digital Theatre show on our monthly Open Nights. We intend to observe from 7.00 to 9.00pm (this means that we will not be observing in the summer months when it will still be daylight at these times). The astronomical objects viewed will change with the seasons, and range from the Moon to the planets (such as Jupiter, Saturn, Mars and Venus) to nebulae and galaxies and, if we are really lucky, passing comets.

image of telescope in action

Armagh Planetarium’s new telescope in action in January 2013. It can be extremely cold as you stand by a telescope on a winter evening so please dress appropriately. (Image credit: Armagh Planetarium)


If you would like to join in please be aware that observing can be done only if the sky is clear, the telescope cannot see through cloud and rain! The Digital Theatre show will go ahead regardless of the weather. Also (and I know this from bitter experience) dressing warmly is essential!

If you are interested in participating please phone to book your place. I’m looking forward to some wonderful nights of stargazing!

(The next late night opening with observing session is scheduled for October 2016.)

(Article by Colin Johnston, Science Communicator)



Mark Horner · April 11, 2013 at 15:12

Is it possible to use a dslr and t-mount with the dob?

    admin · April 16, 2013 at 13:25

    Yes you are very welcome to try, but with a couple of caveats. You will need to bring your own equipment and the opportunity to use the telescope will be limited by the demand to look through it. So if we are very busy you may have to wait until the end of the session as we giving priority to everyone who wants to look down it!

    Note that the next telescope night will be in October.

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