International Year of Light Scotland Closing Event

IllumiNations, the closing event for the International Year of Light in Scotland too place on the 3rd December at Heriot-Watt University. School children and adult visitors attended a range of science exhibits, a lecture by BBC science communicator Professor Jim Al-¬Khalili and a spectacular science-based light show. SUPA shared a stand with the Institute of Physics and displayed information about IYL activities that had taken place in Scotland during year, and information on Scottish physics more widely.

Back in 2014, recognising the importance of the Year of Light to Scottish physics, and the many links to Scotland, SUPA, together  sought to establish a distinct Scottish contribution to the Year’s activities, as well as playing a role in the UK and global programmes. SUPA, together with IOP Scotland and the Royal Society of Edinburgh, made a case to SFC to support a core programme of IYL2015 events in Scotland. SFC’s funding of £50k was more than matched by the SUPA universities, alongside contributions from RSE, M Squared Lasers, the Knowledge Transfer Network, Gas Sensing Solutions and others.

In addition to establishing a website for Scottish IYL activities ( and a Twitter feed for up to date information on events and activities (@light2015scot), the IYL funding was able to support many activities across Scotland. A sample of these is below.

  •  A Scottish launch event at the Royal Society of Edinburgh on 23rd Feb 2015. Around 100 school children attended during the day and around 200 adults in the evening.
  • An eclipse viewing event at Sumburgh Head lighthouse in Sheltand.
  • Talks by the astronaut Duane Carey about the mission to service the Hubble Space Telescope.
  • A dual resonant solid state tesla coil that will generate a spark longer than Maxwell was tall for use in a show to bring together electricity, magnetism and light Maxwell’s Torch.
  • An interactive laser halo harp designed and built by the University of Glasgow in collaboration with Glasgow School of Art. The harp has proved so popular that a second version is being built to be on permanent display in the National Museum of Scotland. 
  • Six months of operation for a “Lab in a Lorry”, kitted out with light-related activities. In the funded period, the Lorry reached 6,208 pupils from 42 schools, 64.3% in areas designated accessible small towns or more remote; 57.14% in areas of socio-economic deprivation.
  • An “RSE @ Scottish Borders” event entitled  ‘Women and the Stars’ featuring Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell, Prof. Monica Grady, Dr Mhairi Stewart and Dr Claire Brock.
As a founding partner of the International Year of Light in the UK, SUPA will be represented at the UK closing event on 27th January, with the SUPA logo featuring in the laser show! The international closing ceremony for the year will take place in Mexico in early February. A report on activities throughout the year, looking at impact and potential legacy will follow in the next few months.