Armagh Observatory and Planetarium (AOP) has announced that it welcomed a record 72,000 visitors during 2022/23.
This is a significant increase from its annual average of between 50,000 and 55,000 visitors and includes a surge in non-term time footfall.
The unprecedented rise in visitor numbers comes as the organisation continues to improve the accessibility of its facilities. Upgrades made during and after the Covid pandemic include a Changing Places facility, improved wheelchair accessibility and a Sensory Room, which is located on the ground level of Armagh Planetarium.
The organisation, which is sited in a heritage environment with a rich scientific history, was awarded Highly Commended for Family Venue of the Year at the Northern Ireland Hospitality Awards 2022.
AOP delivers internationally recognised research in astronomy and related sciences and vibrant education and outreach programmes for all ages. The organisation’s education programmes deliver expertly developed workshops, exhibition tours and tailored Dome Shows to primary and secondary school pupils.
Sinead Mackle, Education and Outreach Manager at AOP, said: “We are delighted to announce an unprecedented increase in visitors to AOP this past year, with a footfall of 72,000 recorded in 2022/23.
“We are passionate about ensuring that AOP is a ‘space for all’ to visit and that our astronomical research is accessible to everyone, inspiring the next generation of scientists and engineers from all backgrounds through participation in our compelling educational onsite and outreach programmes.”
Sinead added: “There will be a number of exciting and family friendly events occurring at AOP this summer and we hope to welcome many more visitors over the coming months and beyond.”
Established in 1790 by Archbishop Richard Robinson, the Armagh Observatory is the oldest scientific institution in Northern Ireland and the longest continuously operating astronomical research institute in the United Kingdom and Ireland.
Dr Eric Lindsay founded the Armagh Planetarium in 1968. It celebrated 50 years as Northern Ireland’s public face of space and astronomy in May 2018.