Star Centre

Welcome to the webpage for the Langton Star Centre, the home of science based research projects at the Langton.  Below you will be able to find out background information about the research projects we currently have running at the school.


We have a large astronomy group here at The Langton who are based at The Langton Observatory.  We have a variety of optical telescopes and a radio telescope that the group use.  The astronomy group are able to access the observatory during the evening at weekends and also organise and run our Stargazing Live events, where the public can visit the observatory on the first Friday of every month from October to March.  Recently the astronomy group have used our radio telescope to hunt for radio waves from Jupiter and this year they have started to hunt for Muons, particles from cosmic rays, to see if their number are affected by solar activity.

Mars Rover Project

This is a new project for 2017.  The students will work to design a rover that would be capable of delivering an instrument package to Mars.  During this project, our students will follow the processes used by a large commercial organisation to manage and deliver a project, an experience that will prove highly valuable to any student wishing to follow an engineering path.


This project studies the iridescence of beetle wing casings.  The group have used a spectrophotometer to analyse the wavelengths of light reflected off the beetle wing casings.  Recently the wing casings have been heated to different temperatures and the effect this has had on the iridescence has been studied.  In order to try to explain the results of the experiment the group also used a scanning electron microscope to study the structure of the wing casings.  This project received recognition at the KM Bright Spark Awards 2017, more details of the project can be found HERE.


Ionic Liquids

Another new project for 2017, this time run in conjunction with the Institute for Research in Schools (IRIS).  This is a very hands-on and practical project where the group will initially be learning the techniques required to produce liquid salts.  The group will then test some of the unique properties of these liquids, such as their ability to clean the tarnish on electrical circuit boards.


The Langton Ultimate Cosmic Ray Intensity Detector (LUCID) is an instrument package on Surrey Satellite Technology’s TechDemoSat-1.  The package detects cosmic rays above the Earth’s atmosphere and send the data down to us.  Over the past year, students working on this project have used the data to see if the rays come mainly from the sun or from deep space, they have also used the data to assess the impact of cosmic rays on space travellers travelling to Mars.  The data is still running this year and the students will be using this data to investigate a region of high intensity cosmic rays called the South Atlantic Anomaly.  Preliminary analysis suggests it has got larger over the last few years, but has it, and if so why?


MoEDAL stands for the Monopole and Exotics Detector at the LHC.  This project makes use of data that is sent back to us from the Large Hadron Collider and the students involved in this project are searching for a magnetic monopole – this would be a lone magnetic north or south pole without its opposite counterpart.  They believe they know what it should look like on one of the chips used for detecting it, but can they find and identify it?


Ray stands for Radiation Around You.  This project makes use of the TimePix chips produced by the MediPix collaboration.  These chips are capable of identifying different types of background radiation in the atmosphere and over the past year the group have been making a radiation map of the UK using data from chips at a network of schools around the country.  The astronomy group’s work hunting for Muons also counts as a RAY project.


Another new project for 2017, in this case we have teamed up with the University of Kent to analyse the content of E-cigarette solutions using an advanced technique called Gas Chromatography Mass Spectometry (GC-MS).  As part of this project, students will learn techniques used by analytical chemists in real research environments when they make a set of standards that will allow them to work out the concentration of various chemicals in the E-cigarette solutions.


Our final new project for 2017, this is being run as part of the Institute for Research in Schools’ Genomics project.  The aims of this project is to decode the DNA of the human whipworm in order to find vulnerabilities.  Why do this?  The human whipworm is a parasite that carries a Neglected Tropical Disease (NTD) called Trichurisasis, which can cause abdominal pain, diarrhoea and development problems in children.  Finding where the host is vulnerable is the first step in halting this awful disease.