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!


Manchester Museum – a great focus for Life Long Learning

Curators and collections staff make a massive contribution to life long learning here at the museum, be we don’t often tell people about it and the impact it has on people’s lives. We help the museum come alive for everyone from small children to older people.

Geology at Manchester Museum

I regularly get asked what my job involves and what I do day to day. Here are some of the main things I do:

  • Public activities

Big Saturday collection days and handling objects on the galleries

  • Outreach

Taking the collection out to communities, such as the Darwin festival

  • Exhibitions

For example the current Darwin exhibition and our research for the new mammals gallery

  • Schools

Leading and developing meet the expert sessions e.g. Geology A-level

  • Research

Helping researchers and artists from around the world to use the collection and loaning them material

In Touch volunteers

  • Tours

Taking people and groups round the gallery and stores

  • Student teaching and university research

Helping teach courses and working with researchers in the university

  • Enquiries

We run a free enquiry service for the public

  • Volunteers

We work with a range of fantastic volunteers who help with the collection and working with the public

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