James Webb Space Telescope mirror

The Edinburgh International Science Festival illuminates the beauty, form and function of light in brand new outdoor exhibition Light Works. Opened to the public today at St Andrew Square and organised by the Royal Photographic Society, the exhibition celebrates the UN International Year of Light 2015.

The large-scale photography exhibition is an annual highlight of the Science Festival, and this year returns to St Andrew Square after a season at The Mound in 2014. Visitors of all ages will find an image that captivates them among these large-format photographs that explore ways of looking at ourselves and the world around us. Light Works weaves a virtual journey through the electromagnetic spectrum from gamma rays to radio waves with images taking us from inside the human body to the very edges of space.

Edinburgh Science Festival - Light Works Exhibition - NASAs Mars Rover used a camera at the end of its robotic arm to take this selfie Image NASA sml

The exhibition features 50 amazing images, from organisations including NASA, the Natural History Museum, the National Optical Astronomy Observatory, the British Museum and the European Space Agency. The photographs reveal how different kinds of ‘light’ are used in science, technology and medicine.

These include a ‘selfie’ taken by the Curiosity Mars Rover on the surface of the Red Planet; the world’s largest X-ray generator – The Z Machine – illuminated by huge sparks of electricity; a giant space telescope mirror being tested with beams of light; and detailed x-rays of a Francisco Goya masterpiece used to prove its authenticity.

Light Works forms part of the Science Festival’s Light and Enlightenment series, with events exploring the beauty, form and function of light and its role as a metaphor for knowledge and enlightenment. This includes two events exploring the life and work of a Scottish hero of Science, Edinburgh-born James Clerk Maxwell, marking the 150th anniversary of the publication of his ground-breaking theory of electromagnetism in light.

Edinburgh Science Festival - Light Works Exhibition - Solar Spectrum - Splitting white light into a spectrum through a spectrometer Image Nigel Sharp, NOAONSO

The  organiser feel that the stunning images will appeal to everyone, of any age or level of science knowledge and the accompanying captions explain what people are seeing in the image and how it relates to everyday life.

Edinburgh International Science Festival Director Dr Simon Gage said: ‘I’m delighted that once again we’re able to stage a wonderful outdoor exhibition right in the heart of Edinburgh’s city centre for everyone to enjoy. Light Works offers a fascinating insight into the amazingly diverse and wonderful world of Light, unlocking how its mysterious properties affect life throughout the Universe and also showing how scientific research uses light in different ways to make amazing technological and medical advancements’.  

Light Works is open daily from now until Friday 17 April 2015, 8am–6pm. Entry is un-ticketed and free of charge.

The Edinburgh International Science Festival runs from Saturday 4 to Sunday 19 April 2015. Full details of the 2015 programme can be found at sciencefestival.co.uk. Tickets for all events can be booked online via the website, through the Box Office on 0844 557 2686 or in person at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Shop at 180 High St, Edinburgh, EH1 1QS.