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Visit The Rutherford Appleton Laboratory

Christina McQuirk shows visitors ‘Rimmer’ the rover in the Mars Yard.
(Credit: STFC)

There are lots of opportunities to come and visit us at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL) or attend one of our off-site events with our partners and meet some of our scientists and engineers – whether it’s for one of our fascinating Talking Science series of free lectures, a public access day or for a stargazing event. We also have a separate programme of events for schools.

Email us to be added to our mailing list: we will send you details of upcoming events and opportunities.


Stefan Gates, Gastronaut at RAL Talking Science
(Credit: STFC)

Talking Science

This series of scientific lectures takes place at STFC's Rutherford Appleton Laboratory every month. Our 2017-8 programme starts in September and includes topics ranging from the last day of the dinosaurs to building stars on Earth.

Booking will open for our Spring/Summer talks on Monday 5 March 2018. To see this year’s programme and book your place, please visit the Talking Science webpage.

If you have any questions, or to be added to our Talking Science email list, please email Talking Science.


Planet Painting at Stargazing LIVE at RAL, 2013.
(Credit: STFC)

Stargazing at RAL

Our next Stargazing at RAL event will be held on Friday 19 January 2018. Bookings will open at midday on Friday 5 January 2018 on our booking page.

There will be plenty to do for the whole family, whatever the weather. There’ll be meteorites, rocket building, comet making, face-painting, a series of fascinating talks, robots and of course stargazing. There will also be a telescope clinic run by our partners Newbury Astronomy Society, so if you get a telescope for Christmas and need some help setting it up then do bring it in. We’ll also have some experts on hand to explain how we’re using our particle accelerators, Diamond Light Source and the ISIS Neutron and Muon Source, to learn more about space.

For more information on this event please email Stargazing at RAL.


Visitors tour the ISIS Neutron and Muon Source
(Credit: STFC)

Public Access Days

Public Access Days at Rutherford Appleton Laboratory are a fantastic way to see behind-the-scenes at our world class facilities, speak to the scientists and engineers who work here and learn about how we study the world around us. We take our visitors in small groups to see some of our facilities – the exact locations vary, depending on our experimental schedule, but visitors get a chance to see many different places: from our cryogenics labs, to our high-power lasers.

Our next Access Day will be in 2018. Please email Visit RAL for more information, or to be added to our mailing list.


Saturday Coding Club – Christmas Celebrations
(Credit: Alex Dibbo, STFC)

Saturday Coding at RAL

Once a month, on a Saturday afternoon, we run a coding club for young people aged 7 – 18. During these sessions participants work on a variety of different challenges – from creating and programming a robot to enter the laser target areas, to making a series of simple games designed to encourage people to learn how to code. It’s a brilliant opportunity to meet other coders and work together on amazing projects, with support from RAL’s Scientific Computing Department as well as external mentors. The challenges are chosen by the participants themselves, and at the end of each afternoon we update the entire group on our progress. We’ve got lots of resources – from Arduino microcontrollers to Lego Mindstorms – so teams really can undertake whatever projects they choose! As well as our expert mentors, who help all the participants with their projects, there’s a real focus on peer-learning as each group helps solve any problems that arise.

At the moment, all places at our Saturday Coding Club are taken, but if you’d like more information or to be placed on our waiting list, please email Visit RAL.


Investigating the world in indra-red
(Credit: STFC)

Cornerstone Arts Centre

We’re very excited to be returning to the Cornerstone Arts Centre in Didcot during the 2018 Easter Holidays to hold a family fun day all about planets. We’ll be providing hands on activities for the whole family to try out, including making your own planets! The event will take place on Tuesday 10 April 2018, from 10:00 – 16:00.


Summer Coding at RAL
(Credit: STFC)

Summer Coding

Each year RAL hosts a summer coding week for children aged 7-17. They have the opportunity to spend a week at the laboratory to solve various challenges using computer programming, Lego Mindstorms and Arduino microcontrollers. Our next summer coding event will take place in 2018.

Science and Technology Facilities Council Switchboard: 01793 442000