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World-famous Christmas Lectures set to livestream at Armagh Observatory and Planetarium

This year's lecturer from the Royal Institution, Professor Mike Wooldridge

The world-famous Christmas Lectures are coming to Northern Ireland in December, with Armagh Observatory and Planetarium set to stream the live filming, direct from the Royal Institution (Ri) theatre in London on December 12 and 14 in its Kepler Room.

Watched by millions on the BBC, the annual Christmas Lectures are a firm family favourite, broadcast during the festive season. The 2023 event is set to reveal the truth about Artificial Intelligence.

Confirmation of Armagh Observatory and Planetarium as one of 16 livestream partners announced, means that NI’s science lovers, and anyone who’s curious about the world around them, will be able to experience first-hand the magic of the world’s longest-running science lecture series.

The Ri has set a target of 20 or more partner venues – to exceed the previous highest total of 18, set four years ago before the Covid-19 pandemic – with the first 16 locations confirmed.

Helen McLoughlin, Operations Manager at Armagh Observatory and Planetarium, said: “It is an honour to welcome the world-renowned Christmas Lectures here to Armagh and we would like to thank the Royal Institution for partnering with us on this special event.

“At Armagh Observatory and Planetarium, we deliver internationally recognised research into astronomy and related sciences, along with vibrant educational and outreach programmes for all ages.

“As such, it is a pleasure to make this vital discourse on Artificial Intelligence accessible to people across NI.”

Director of the Royal Institution, Katherine Mathieson, said: “We’re extremely grateful to each of our partner venues, confirmed so far. They will all bring their own unique flavour to the live filming of the world-famous Christmas Lectures, enabling local audiences to see what goes on behind the scenes when inspiring scientists are brought together with the public.

“We’re delighted to be working with some of the UK’s best science research and engagement organisations to bring the Lectures within reach for even more people this year. We’re very much look forward to welcoming more partners in the run-up to filming.”

From Aberdeen Science Centre and TechFest in Scotland to Exeter Science Centre in southern England, the first 16 partner venues named stretch the length and breadth of the UK.

Also confirmed are the National Museums Liverpool, Keele University, Cambridge Museum of Technology, Queen Mary University of London, STEM Learning (York), Plymouth University, Lancaster University, the University of Glasgow, the University of Warwick, London Metropolitan University, Oxford Brookes University and Science Oxford Centre.

The Ri is continuing discussions with further venues that have already expressed their interest, with others – including science centres, universities, museums, theatres and other cultural venues – invited to apply.

The Chrsitmas Lectures were the brainchild of Michael Faraday in 1825 and have been delivered every year since, with the exception of four years during World War II when it was too dangerous to have a theatre full of children in central London. The first science programme ever to be broadcast on UK national television, in 1936, they have been broadcast every year since 1966.

Last year Dame Sue Black revealed the ‘Secrets of forensic science’ and in 2021, Sir Jonathan Van-Tam delivered ‘Going Viral: How Covid changed science forever’ before notably going viral online himself due to the first Lecture’s opening sequences.

Filming of the 2023 Christmas Lectures will be livestreamed from the Royal Institution’s iconic theatre on December 12, 14 and 16. The Lectures will be broadcast on BBC national television and iPlayer between Christmas and New Year.

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