PLC 2018: Day 3, Excursions

Blog Post by Sandy Campbell

Wednesday was tour day at the Colloquy. We first took a 1.5 hour bus ride north into the heart of Lapland. At Sodankyla, we visited the Sodankyla Geophysical Observatory. The main building at this site, at the time of construction, was the largest log house in Finland. This observatory has a 30 meter wide radio telescope which is used to collect many forms of natural data including information about the earth’s magnetic field, lightning strikes, and astrophysical data that allows the scientists to predict when there will be good northern lights.

After a coffee break, generously sponsored by EBSCO, we had a lecture at the Finnish Meteorological Institute at the same site. The meteorologists collect data from passing satellites, as well as from a local weather station. We saw a robot weather balloon launcher, which now launches most of the weather balloons. .

Lunch was at the Nesta restaurant on the site, where the meal of pasta and salad was completed with a caramel mousse.

Our second stop of the day, a short bus ride away, was the amethyst mine at Luosto. Participants learned about how amethyst was created and then had the opportunity to look for stones. The “mine” is a hillside of naturally shattered rock mixed with sand. Each participant was given a basket and a small rock hammer and began searching for amethysts. Many smaller amethysts were visible on the surface among the broken rocks. Larger pieces were covered by sand. After collecting a basket of likely pieces, each person went to a washing station, so see whether or not they had found amethyst. Everyone did and was able to take home a sample that could fit into the palm of their hand.
After another coffee sponsored by EBSCO, this time with donuts and traditional Finnish sweet buns called “butter eye buns”, we boarded the bus for the trip back to Rovaniemi.

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