Glow in the dark minerals!

Hi, my name’s Lisa, and I’m a volunteer in Earth Sciences here at the Manchester Museum. I’m currently studying for my doctorate degree at the University of Manchester, investigating the chemistry of volcanic rocks from exotic locations around the world!

When I’m not studying, I help out at the museum, taking part in the Big Saturday events, and assisting behind the scenes, where you can find some really fascinating objects such as fluorescent minerals.

Willemite under normal and ultra-violet light

These minerals react to ultra-violet light – which is invisible to the human eye – often producing a bright vibrant light, which can be similar in colour to the neon signs which we’re all familiar with. What’s amazing about these minerals is that in the presence of ultra-violet light they appear to glow in the dark!

Franklandite under normal and ultra-violet light

Over 500 minerals are known to “glow”, but most only fluoresce if an impurity, such as iron, is present. I find these minerals particularly fascinating due to how much their appearances change, just by placing them under an ultra-violet light. For instance, calcite is normally a translucent white colour, but can fluoresce in a range of colours and strengths, from blues to pinks, and subtle to bright – and minerals with uranium present often glow green!

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