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Lerwick Open Days

Auroras and Earthquakes!

Logo for event. .

The Lerwick observatory has been running for 95 years as a geomagnetic observatory and its data are used to study the aurora, as well as make maps for compass corrections and even allows operators to steer oil wells when they drill underground. It is one of the longest running magnetic observatories in the world.

The observatory is also home to seismological and meteorological instruments measuring earthquakes and weather conditions.

If you have you ever wondered what causes the aurora or why the Earth shakes, come along to our public lecture on 30th June or join us for our open day on the 1st July.

Staff from the British Geological Survey will be on hand to show and explain how we measure the Earth's magnetic field, why space weather is so important, and how we detect earthquakes on the other side of the world. While you are at the exhibition sign up for a tour of the observatory to see first-hand the geophysical and meteorological instruments.

Public Lecture

Date: Friday 30th June

Location: Shetland Museum and Archives

Time: 7pm - 8pm

Dr Alan Thomson, head of Geomagnetism at the British Geological Survey will give a lecture "Lerwick Magnetic Observatory:A Tale of Shetland, the Earth's Magnetism, Oil and the Northern Lights".

Public Open Day

Date: Saturday 1st July

Location: Shetland Museum and Archives

Time: 10am - 5pm

Join staff from the British Geological Survey to learn more about aurora and earthquakes. Have a go at making your own earthquake, learn more about the science behind the northern lights or see a forecast for the weather in space!

Lots of displays and hands-on activities suitable for all ages. There will also be a series of short talks throughout the day and the opportunity to sign-up to a tour of the nearby Lerwick observatory.

Observatory Tours

Come to Shetland Museum and Archives to sign up on the day for a tour of the nearby Lerwick Observatory. You will be transported by minibus to the observatory. Once at the observatory you will be given a tour of the geomagnetic instrumentation operated by the British Geological Survey and the meteorological instruments operated by the Met Office.

  • Tours are limited to 15 people per tour.
  • No pre-booking. Sign up on the day.
  • Tours will run every 50 minutes by minibus from the museum.
  • Tours start and end at Shetland Museum and Archives. Please do not arrive at the observatory directly. For safety, no other vehicles can be permitted access to the Observatory.
  • Tour duration is approximately 90 minutes.
  • Tours will involve around 60 minutes walking around the site.
  • Regrettably, these original 1920s buildings have no toilet facilities and have limited disabled access - please contact us for further information.
  • We are hoping for nice weather, but please bring suitable clothing for walking outdoors just in case.
  • Tours may be cancelled in the event of bad weather.