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About Us

Who we are, what we do, how we do it…the foundations for success

STFC is one of the UK’s seven publicly funded Research Councils responsible for supporting, co-ordinating and promoting research, innovation and skills development in seven distinct fields.

Our uniqueness lies in the breadth of our remit and the sheer diversity of our portfolio, as we harness our world-leading expertise, facilities and resources to drive science and technology forward and maximise our impact for the benefit of the UK and its people.

We don’t simply deliver a non-stop flow of fundamental insights and breakthroughs in spheres ranging from particle and nuclear physics to space, laser and materials science. We also have a clear focus on the need to meet real-world requirements through new medicines, cleaner energy, safer aircraft, pioneering security solutions and much more besides.

We combine the radical with the practical and blend blue-skies thinking with hard-headed applied science. Through our UK operations and our involvement in major international collaborations, we generate outcomes that shape societies, strengthen economies, build industries, create jobs and transform lives.

Our aims, ambitions and achievements are underpinned not just by our unique suite of capabilities but also by the way we’re structured and governed, as well as by our clear, unambiguous commitment to the highest standards of efficiency and accountability.

This section guides you through our track record, current goals and future plans, and explains exactly how we extend the boundaries of knowledge, tear down barriers and boost today’s evolving knowledge economy, for the good of the UK and the world at large.

STFC are currently supporting the UK astronomy community, in partnership with the Royal Astronomical Society (RAS), in touring an exhibition showcasing the Big Telescopes family - both ground and space based - focusing on the UK science expertise and economic benefits.

The ‘Seeing the Universe in all its light’ road show will shortly be visiting Queen’s University Belfast (QUB) from 17th – 24th May. Young astronomers from QUB will be on hand to enthuse you with the work that they do and answers questions on any aspects of astronomy. As part of the event, there will be ‘family days’ at the weekend, as well as two public lectures and an ‘Ask an Astronomer’ event. Further details, including how to book to attend the lectures, are available at https://STFC-QUB-Public-Events.eventbrite.co.uk.

Visitors enjoying the ‘Seeing the Universe’ exhibition at the Edinburgh International Science Festival
Credit: STFC

The road show features stunning science images and interactive exhibits, including:

  • A replica model of English astronomer Thomas Harriot's first telescope

  • A 1:4 scale model of ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT)

  • A 1:12 scale model of an Atacama Large Millimetre Array (ALMA) antenna

  • A 1:20 scale model of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST)

  • A 1:10 scale model of Herschel Space Observatory

  • 'Hands-on' exhibits including 'seeing the invisible', 'adaptive optics' and 'micro autonomous robots'

  • An interactive control desk, providing details on the full spectra of wavelengths used by astronomers

  • Historical science papers from the Royal Astronomical Society (RAS) & the Thomas Harriot trust

  • An 8 metre interactive wall featuring an ‘astronomical wow facts’ screen, interactive touchscreen and a large 3D screen.

  • Non-slip floor mats of telescopes from around the world

For more information on big telescopes please see www.stfc.ac.uk/bigtelescopes

Watch the roadshow build.

The ‘Seeing the Universe in all its light’ exhibition kicked off its tour during July 2013 and has visited 16 venues, travelled 4,190 miles, and over 52 days has captured the attention of around 39,700 visitors from all walks of life.

The 1:12 scale model of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) which will be the largest infrared space telescope studying the information of the first stars and galaxies
(Credit: STFC)
The adaptive optics exhibit demonstrates how telescopes use sophisticated, deformable mirrors controlled by computers that correct, in real-time, the distortion caused by the turbulence of the Earth's atmosphere, making the images obtained almost as sharp as those taken in space.
(Credit: STFC)

Other confirmed locations for the exhibition include:

  • Armagh Observatory, 26th - 30th May 2014

  • National Astronomy Meeting, Guildhall Walk, University of Portsmouth, 23rd – 26th June 2014

  • Eisteddfod Festival, Llanelli, 1st - 9th August 2014

  • Outreach Event, Cardiff University Herschel/Planck team, 14th – 18th August 2014 – Herschel model only

  • Arts Science Festival, University of Sheffield, 17th - 19th September 2014

  • Celebrate Science Festival, Durham University, 28th - 30th October 2014

See also

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