Field trips

Through our network of global partners, our students also have opportunities to visit leading institutions like ATLAS project at CERN, the Isaac Newton Group of Telescopes in the Canary Islands and the dark matter research facility at Boulby Underground Laboratory.

Students on the La Palma field trip

Isaac Newton Group of Telescopes

La Palma, Canary Islands

Each year up to 10 of our Physics and Astronomy students have the opportunity to join a subsidised field trip to the Isaac Newton Group of Telescopes in La Palma, Canary Islands, to use our pt5m telescope. At 2,400m above sea level, these telescopes are in an almost ideal environment for astronomy. They can also visit the 4m William Herschel Telescope (WHT) and the 10m Gran Telescopio Canarias (GTC).


Students on the Physics and Astrophysics with a Year in Industry can spend a year of their degree working at at the Isaac Newton Group of Telescopes. It's also possible for students on this course to do their placement at the Thai National Observatory in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

The next generation of astronomy tools

Our Professor of Astrophysics, Vik Dhillon, led the team that built HiPERCAM, a high-speed camera that has been installed on La Palma's Gran Telescopio Canarias – the world's largest optical telescope. He was also part of the international research team that built the new Gravitational-wave Optical Transient Observer telescope (GOTO) on the island, to detect optical signatures of gravitational waves.

Boulby Underground Laboratory

North Yorkshire, UK

The Boulby Underground Laboratory is helping to answer the big questions about what the Universe is made of and if there is life on other planets, what it could be like.

Scientists from our particle physics group work at the Boulby Underground Laboratory. The laboratory lies 1,100m below ground in a working potash mine in Northern England. It provides a low radiation background environment where physicists run high sensitivity detectors aiming to discover dark matter and study the effects of cosmic rays on cloud formation.

Boulby is the second deepest mine in Europe. Students start their journey to the laboratory with a descent of 1,100m as they travel down the mine shaft, followed by a walk along a network of tunnels cut into a salt bed over 200 million years old.

The salty environment in Boulby is similar to the salt on the surface of Mars, or the salty ocean beneath the icy crust of Europa, one of the moons of Jupiter. The mine is not only home to the search for dark matter, the salty tunnels are also home to tiny organisms called extremophiles which astrobiologists are studying to see if they can tell us whether life could cope in similar environments elsewhere in the Universe. One day we might find advanced extraterrestrial life but the chances are that any alien species could be more like the simple organisms living in Boulby mine.

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