Automation move is on the horizon for Armagh Observatory

Shane Kelly of Armagh Observatory pictured in 2013 with a sunshine recorder, a 19th century device which still performs accurately today.
Shane Kelly of Armagh Observatory pictured in 2013 with a sunshine recorder, a 19th century device which still performs accurately today.

One of the world’s longest-running manual weather observation centres is preparing to embrace a move towards automation.

For more than 200 years, daily weather readings have been manually recorded at Armagh Observatory in Northern Ireland.

Continuing the tradition over the past 18 years has been Shane Kelly, who has been taking readings at 9am every day at the observatory, including measuring the temperature and sunlight.

But the facility could soon take its first steps towards an automated measuring process.

Observatory director Michael Burton said the move was a “long term plan”.

He added: “We have been measuring the weather for over 200 years on a daily basis, and we are very proud of this unique, unbroken record.

“We want to maintain the tradition of manual observations here for as long as possible.

“But automation has become the standard in weather observation and it has its advantages, such as being able to continually measure the weather rather than just once a day.”

However, Mr Burton stressed his hope that an automated weather station would run in tandem with the manual observations at the site.

He said the automatic station, would could cost in the region of £10k-£20k, would not be in place for at least another year.

Mr Burton added: “We will have to carry out fundraising to purchase the new equipment.

“We have been working in conjunction with the Met Office and taking their advice to ensure any equipment we purchase will be as reliable as possible.”