Outreach for Schools

National Schools' Observatory

The NSO Moonsaic at schoolsobservatory.org.uk

The National Schools' Observatory (NSO) has a mission to enable Access to the Universe for All. Through the NSO, we inspire the next generation of scientists, programmers and engineers using the wonders of space. 

The NSO makes it possible for young people around the world to study some of the amazing things that can be seen in the night sky for themselves by providing free use of the world’s largest robotic telescope, the Liverpool Telescope. Using the Liverpool Telescope, schools and professional astronomers can explore the Universe together.

Anyone can Join the NSO to Go Observing and explore free activities, lesson plans, and much more. Teachers can register to start making use of fantastic free resources, access CPD, and get their class making their own observations!

Using the NSO students can:

  • further their knowledge of science and mathematics
  • improve their computer literacy and communications skills
  • strengthen their critical thinking
  • experience the real-world application of science and technology

The best free resource for teaching astronomy!

Andrea Fesmer, Physics teacher at St Peter and Paul College, Widnes.

The NSO launched in 2004 and is currently supporting more than 18,000 teachers and students to do astronomy.  Find out more about the NSO’s Strategy and Meet the Team.



Work Experience Week


Class of 2019

Each summer the ARI welcomes school students, for a week-long work experience programme. This week consists of talks, workshops, and gives the students an idea of how professional research is done at a university.

Applications for the 2023 week are now open, visit the Schools Observatory website for more information and to apply. Applications close on Friday 31st March 2023.

If you have any questions please email nso@ljmu.ac.uk and we will get back to you during normal UK office hours.


There is no charge for this work experience week.


Read what students said about Work Experience Week:

It was such an informative and hands on week that I would recommend to anyone considering Physics at university in the future, as it really helped to affirm my choice of doing a Natural Sciences degree at university.

By Emma Durkin - Read Emma's full blog post.

All in all it was a really fun and interesting week, it provides a realistic insight into research jobs and student life at any university...I would highly recommend that all students apply to this, as it really was intriguing and provides amazing opportunities and a lot of information.

By Louis Wilks-Reeves - Read Louis' full blog post.


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Workshops and Talks

Covid-19 update
Although ARI Staff (including the NSO Team) are starting to look ahead to being able to visit schools again, we are also happy to provide online workshops and talks adapted from the list below. If you would like to speak to us about any of these please email nso@ljmu.ac.uk.

All Age Ranges

  • Introduction to Astronomy
    This general introductory interactive talk into the world of astronomy: What is the Universe made up of? How do we know? Where did the Universe begin and where will it end? Session can be adapted to any age group.


  • Creating Constellations – Ideal ages 5 -7
    This interactive session talks students through the contents of our Universe and what ancient astronomers saw when they looked to the skies, followed by students creating their own glow in the dark constellations.
  • Mission to Mars - Ideal for ages 7 - 11
    What would humans need to survive on Mars? This session will involve students designing their own base camps and negotiating their way around a `Martian' surface using robot rovers.
  • Scale of the Solar System - Ideal for ages 7 - 11
    An introductory session on the solar system including the scale of the solar system and an interactive session using Play-doh to replicate the relative sizes of the planets.


  • Hunting for Asteroids - Ideal for ages 11 - 16
    Using data taken from the Liverpool Telescope and software specially developed for use in schools this interactive session will find and track asteroids in our solar system. The session can be developed by calculating the speed of each asteroid. Use of a computer lab is required.
  • Image Processing – Ideal for ages 11 - 16
    Interactive workshop discussing the way we use telescopes to collect data, followed by a session on creating 3-colour images using real observations.
  • Telescopes – Ideal for ages 14 - 16
    Interactive talk about professional telescopes, how they work, where they are and why we have to look at different wavelengths to gather information on astronomical objects.
  • Life cycle of Stars - Ideal for ages 14 - 18
    What will happen to our Sun? How are stars born and how do they evolve? This talk will go over the life cycle of stars both low and high mass and discuss what we can learn by studying them.



  • Creating a HR Diagram - Ideal for ages 16 - 18
    Looking specifically at the classification of stars, using data taken from the Liverpool Telescope to create a Hertzsprung-Russell diagram.
  • Hidden Light - Ideal for ages 16 - 18
    Session looking at the electromagnetic spectrum and thermal radiation using an IR camera - specifically concentrating on classifying stars and calculating black body temperature.

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The Astrophysics Research Institute are keen to support schools to meet Gatsby Benchmarks. We can attend careers fairs and provide careers talks. You can also use resources from the National Schools’ Observatory online careers area

Please get in touch if you have a fair coming up and would like us to attend or if you would like to book our careers talk nso@ljmu.ac.uk.

  • Where can physics take me? Careers Talk - Ideal for ages 14 - 18
    An interactive talk on the careers available to those with a physics degree, including short film interviews with physics graduates, and covering all the most up-to-date statistics on employment, sectors and salaries.


You can follow the NSO on social media: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. We also have a YouTube channel. If you want to talk to us email nso@ljmu.ac.uk.

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