Armagh Observatory & Planetarium welcomes DfC Permanent Secretary Tracy Meharg

The Armagh Observatory & Planetarium welcomed Tracy Meharg, Permanent Secretary at the Department for Communities, (DfC) on Wednesday 22nd May to update her on ambitious future plans and current programmes. 

 Following a tour of the historic Grade A listed Observatory building, Tracy was delighted to meet a group of local children from Railway Street Nursery School, Armagh, who were enjoying a special ‘make and take’ activity in the Planetarium. 

 In addition to a tour of the facilities and a private meeting with Board of Governors Chair, Archbishop Richard Clarke, Management Committee Chair, John Briggs, and Director Professor Michael Burton, Tracy also met with staff and Board of Governors members.

This year marks another important milestone for the Armagh Observatory and Planetarium (AOP) as it prepares to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo II moon landings and, representing the organisation’s key sponsor and funding department, Tracy was fully updated on its plans, including details of its comprehensive and inspiring ‘One Giant Leap’ summer programme of events and activities.

Archbishop Richard Clarke, Chair of Armagh Observatory & Planetarium Board of Governors, said:

 “We were delighted to welcome Tracy to Armagh to share in our future ambitions for AOP following a successful merger of our research and education functions as a single organisation. 

“After marking our own 50th anniversary last year and 50 years since the Bovedy meteorite fell in Northern Ireland only a few weeks ago, our exciting Summer Programme to celebrate man’s first visit in 1969 reflects the ambition and passion we have in this true place for space.

 “We look forward to welcoming visitors from near and far over the months ahead and encourage everyone to find out more about what’s planned and to book early to avoid missing out.”

The Armagh Observatory & Planetarium’s ‘One Giant Leap’ summer programme, which kicks off in early July and runs into August, is filled with workshops and activities to suit all ages including Augmented Reality technology, immersive full dome shows, traditional film, exhibitions, workshops and experiential events – all designed to get visitors into the headspace of a nervously excited young astronaut in 1969.

Tracy Meharg, Permanent Secretary at the Department for Communities, said:

“I was delighted to visit the Armagh Observatory and Planetarium to see first-hand the educational benefits that this facility provides on meteorology, science and astronomy to schools and the wider public through its educational services programme.

“This is done in fun and innovative ways and is a great way for people of all ages and backgrounds to learn and engage with.

“As well as being a great source of research and knowledge for everyone here it is also recognised as a major attraction for visitors and academics from all over the world.  With an exciting programme of events planned for the summer I would encourage as many people as possible to visit it and see for themselves.”