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The Observatory Science Centre

The Observatory Science Centre
Herstmonceux
Hailsham
East Sussex
BN27 1RN

Tel: 01323 832731
  • General
  • Monday Closed
  • Tuesday Closed
  • Wednesday 10:00 - 16:00
  • Thursday Closed
  • Friday Closed
  • Saturday 10:00 - 16:00
  • Sunday 10:00 - 16:00
  • The Observatory Science Centre

Meet the Team

Frequently Asked Questions

  • + How do you pronounce Herstmonceux?

    As with most place names there is a 'correct' pronunciation amongst local people and Herstmonceux is no exception. 

    Herst is the Saxon name for a wooded hill, and the manor is mentioned in the Domesday Book as being part of the land belonging to the Count of Eu.

    In 1131 the Count's grandson transferred the manor to Drogo de Monceux, (great grandson of William the Conqueror) who married Idonea de Monceux. Their son was known as Walleran de Herst Monceux. 

    To answer the question 'How do you pronounce Herstmonceux?'

    • Herst as in 'first'
    • Mon as in 'monsoon'
    • Ceux as in 'zoo'

    'Hirstmonzoo'

  • + I’ve had a star named after me! Can I see it through a telescope?

    This is always a difficult question.

    It very much depends on where the star is and how bright it is. Many of the stars are far too faint and distant making it extremely difficult to pinpoint.

    To avoid disappointment therefore we do not usually offer to locate such stars with our telescopes.


    Do you offer a "star naming" service?

    No we do not. 

    Some commercial enterprises do say that they offer such a service and will charge a fee for it. However such "names" have no formal or official validity whatsoever.

    This is an excerpt from the International Astronomical Unions (IAU) website:  As an international scientific organization, the IAU dissociates itself entirely from the commercial practice of "selling" fictitious star names or "real estate" on other planets or moons in the Solar System. Accordingly, the IAU maintains no list of the (several competing) enterprises in this business in individual countries of the world. For further information please visit the IAU website www.iau.org/public/buying_star_names/ 

  • + Has the Hubble telescope made earthbound telescopes redundant?

    Not at all.

    Space telescopes fulfil a very important role but they cannot be made as large as ground based telescopes due to weight and the cost of getting them into space.

    The wider the diameter of a telescope the better light gathering ability it has and the more detail it can resolve.

    At the moment the largest ground based telescope is the Gran Telescopio Canarias (GranTeCan or GTC). It is a 10.4 m (410 in) reflecting telescope located at the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory on the island of La Palma, in the Canaries, Spain. It is the world's largest single-aperture optical telescope.

    Although atmospheric disturbance is not a problem encountered by space telescopes, many ground based telescopes do have a problem and atmospheric disturbance can distort the image.  However, adaptive optics used with large ground based telescopes can compensate for distortion caused by the atmosphere.

  • + Who uses the telescopes at Herstmonceux now?

    While the telescopes are not being used scientifically for research purposes they are open to the public on our open evenings which are usually held during the Autumn, Winter and Spring with one or two exceptions in the summer.

    They are also open on our special themed evening events which take place throughout the year.

    You can also hire the centre for private evening group visits when you may get the opportunity to use the telescopes (weather permitting).

    Twilight educational visits or scouting and guiding group visits can also be arranged.

  • + Can we look through the telescopes during the day?

    No, because if you catch the Sun it will blind you.....

    Also daylight swamps the light coming from celestial objects making them almost impossible to see.

  • + Is The Centre on the meridian line?

    Not quite, Herstmonceux is 0.320 E of the Greenwich Meridian.

  • + Can we visit the Isaac Newton dome?

    No. This is an empty building and does not have any public access. 

  • + Does science centre admission price include admission to the Gardens & Grounds of Herstmonceux Castle?

    The science centre is located within the estate of Herstmonceux Castle https://herstmonceux-castle.com/ but is a separate business.

    We are currently unable to offer combined entry tickets to both attractions.

  • + Do you have a Membership Scheme?

    The OSC Membership Scheme is currently unavailable.

    Please sign up to our newsletter to keep in touch with the latest news: marketing@the-observatory.org

     

     

  • + Can we use the catering/ toilet facilities without paying an admission price?

    We will always help our visitors wherever possible, but we cannot permit entry without a valid admission ticket.

  • + Is the science centre suitable for young children?

    YES The centre is suitable for all! 

    We do not charge for children age 0 to 3, and children cannot be admitted unless accompanied by an adult.

    Due to the nature of the site all visitors should take care of the ramps /steps / pond etc and children under 16 years of age must be accompanied and supervised by a responsible adult at all times.

  • + Do you offer concession admission prices?

    As an independent, educational charity visitor admissions are our main source of income. 

    We will always admit carers free of charge to a maximum 1-1 ratio (Blue Badge, Benefit Award Letter or similar required).  We also offer family and group rate tickets but are unable to offer discounts for students or unemployed. 

    Essential carers are required to pre-book using our online booking system (PayPal required) and choose the Carers button. Alternatively you can ring in advance to check availability and provide payment details.

    Please remember to bring proof of your Carer status with you on the day.

  • + Can I take photographs on site?

    YES you are welcome to take photographs and short video clips for your personal use.

    Please do not photograph or film anyone (including our employees / volunteers) without their permission.

    You are required to obtain written permission in advance of your visit if you are seeking to photograph / film for any commercial purposes.

    Please email Jo Harris j.harris@the-observatory.org

     

  • + How do I pay when I'm on site?

    All of our till points - Reception / Gift Shop / The Cafe & The Launch Box - can accept contactless payments, cash and even cheques!

    Thank you for supporting us...

  • + Can we purchase food and drink on site?

    We operate our own catering, it is not a franchise: Every purchase helps to support us

    We aim to open The Launch Box catering unit (fries, hot dogs, burgers) and The Cafe (drinks, snacks, ice creams etc.), subject to visitor bookings and employee availability.

     

     

  • + What safety measures have you put in place?

    When you visit you will see many safety measures that were put in place during 2020.

    We have voluntarily decided to keep many of these measures in place: the safety and wellbeing of our visitors, employees and volunteers continues to be an absolute priority.

    Please respect rules and guidelines for your own protection and the safety of others. 

    If any visitors refuse to follow guidelines or are acting in a manner which causes concern to others they will be approached by management. OSC reserves the right to ask visitors to leave, without reimbursing entry fee. Abuse of any kind towards employees or other visitors will not be tolerated.

  • + What if I'm feeling unwell?

    Please do not visit The Observatory Science Centre if you’re feeling unwell with the recognised symptons of Covid 19.

    If you become unwell in any way whilst on site please speak to us immediately so that we can assist you.

    Our employees and volunteers will not come to site if they are feeling unwell and are regularly testing for Covid-19.

  • + Do I need to wear a face covering?

    It is no longer mandatory to wear a face covering.

    However you will see that some visitors and members of our team are choosing to wear them to protect others and themselves.

    We recommend that you wear a face covering in enclosed spaces, unless you are exempt.

    We hope that everyone will be respectful of other visitors, employees and volunteers as we all adjust to Government guidelines. Please speak to us if you have any concerns or questions.

    Please cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue: if no tissue is available, use your elbow.

  • + I've changed my plans: can I have a refund on admission / event tickets?

    You might not know that we are a charity and we rely on income from tickets sold. If you cancel, please consider donating the price of your ticket, or 'paying-it-forward'. A refund is subject to £5 admin fee.

     

    Admission tickets are non-refundable, except where we have been forced to close.

    It is your responsibility to check admission details prior to purchase and to ensure the information you have provided is accurate. Once purchased admission tickets are non-refundable. In exceptional circumstances and no less than 48 hours prior to a visit date, you can contact us and we will transfer your admission to an alternative date (subject to availability).

     

    Event Bookings

    The Observatory Science Centre reserves the right to cancel events and full refunds will be given in this instance.

    When you book it is your responsibility to check event /course details and to ensure the information you have provided is accurate.

    Prior to 7 days before the event / course, refunds or transfers are subject to £5 admin fee.

    No refund or transfer to another event is possible within 7 days of the event / course. However, in exceptional circumstances and no less than 48 hours prior to an event / course date; you can contact us and we will discuss 'paying-it-forward' for a future event (subject to availability).

    If you cannot attend, a friend / family member is welcome to take your place. In this instance you must provide us with their contact details as soon as possible.

     

    Save in respect of liability which cannot be limited by law, our liability to you pursuant to these booking conditions is limited to the face value of the ticket purchased.

    These booking terms and conditions are governed by English law and subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales.

    It is your responsibilty to notify us if you cannot attend. In the case of 'no-shows', we are unable to discuss refunds / transfers.

  • + Will I get a refund if the site closes on the day I've booked for?

    YES You will be refunded if you have paid admission but we have to close the science centre due to circumstances beyond our control.

  • + Are all areas of the site open?

    Our top priority is the safety of visitors and employees / volunteers which includes measures to maintain social distancing, even with the easing of restrictions (July 2021).

    All areas are open and it is now personal choice regarding social distancing / face coverings etc.

    We will continue to review our approach in-line with the latest Government guidance.

  • + Can I bring dogs on site with me?

    Only assistance dogs can be brought on site. Others will be refused entry and we are unable to refund your admission.

  • + Do I have to pre-book?

    It really helps us to plan if you book in advance through this website (PayPal required).

    We are still carefully monitoring visitor numbers, and controlling session availability in line with employee availability.

    Online booking closes at 23.59 on the evening ahead of each date. If you miss the deadline, or don't want to book online we can still accommodate you as day visitors and you can pay on arrival; but you are also welcome to call us to be certain we are open...

    Stargazing evenings must be pre-booked and have no 'walk-in' capacity.

     

     

     

     

  • + Do you allow 'walk-ins'... can I book on the day?

    We strongly recommend that you book in advance... this really helps us to plan and schedule activities / team rota etc.

    Please-note: booking cut-off is 11.59 pm on the evening before the session.

    If you have not made a booking you are welcome to call us on the day to check if we have 'walk-in' capacity...

  • + How do I make a complaint?

    Visitor Complaints Policy

    Statement of Intent

    The Observatory Science Centre (OSC) is part of Science Projects Ltd: a company with charitable status, dedicated to the promotion of science for everyone.

    Our commitment to you

    OSC welcomes your feedback, comments and suggestions and is committed to providing a high quality of service to all visitors. We want to ensure your engagement with OSC is memorable and enjoyable for the right reasons.

    Visitor feedback is vital to OSC as a tourist attraction to help identify any deficiencies in service and operation.   A high level of positive comment about the helpfulness of our team is important in building team morale and job satisfaction.

    We understand that sometimes you may need to contact us if you are dissatisfied in any way.  OSC invites feedback as it enables us to ensure the continuous improvement of the services and facilities we provide.

    We will:

    • Treat your comments / feedback seriously and deal with them appropriately
    • Resolve any complaints promptly and informally where possible
    • Use your comments / feedback where appropriate to improve the visitor experience
       

    Confidentiality

    Every attempt will be made to keep complainant confidentiality, unless circumstances giving rise to the complaint require the involvement of external organisations. In this case the situation will be explained to the complainant.

    It is important that all complaints are managed: phone calls and correspondence received will be logged for information, recording the issue and detailing any action taken.

    It may also be necessary to make a summary report of a complaint.

    Information will be stored securely and confidentially in accordance with GDPR and the Data Protection Act 2018.

     

    What to do if you have a complaint

    Stage 1: It is always better to inform us straight away. Most issues can be informally resolved there and then by the Duty Manager or by a member of the team.

    Stage 2: If you are unhappy with the response, or unable to make a complaint at the time the issue occurs, you can make a formal complaint by email or in writing:

    Please contact The Operations Director as soon as possible:

    Mrs J Harris j.harris@the-observatory.org

    Email / written complaints will be acknowledged as quickly as possible with the aim of resolving within 14 days. If this is not possible (complex investigation /  external organisation involved etc.)  you will be contacted and given a new deadline.

    Stage 3: If your complaint is not resolved to your satisfaction, please contact:

    The Director/ Trustees:  Science Projects Ltd. 3 – 15 Stirling Road, Acton, London. W3 8DJ

  • + Can we fly drones over the site?

    The Observatory Science Centre is located with the Herstmonceux Castle Estate.

    Drones will scare the wildlife around the estate, be dangerous overhead and have a negative impact on people’s visit.

    Please view our Drone Policy for clarification.

  • + What are your opening times and dates?

    We are continually assessing our opening times and dates in response to visitor demand.

    We aim to release booking dates on a monthly rolling basis. This website and our social media platforms will be the primary source for the very latest information found here:

    2022-dates-and-times-of-opening

     

     

     

  • + Do you have toilets on site?

    YES we have toilet facilities in our exhibits corridor: male upstairs, female on the ground floor.

    The access / gender neutral toilet is located on the ground floor. This wheelchair accessible facility includes height adjustable changing bed and hoist.

    Baby Change facilities are also located in the access toilet room.

    We will always help our visitors wherever possible, but we cannot permit entry to use toilet facilities without a valid admission purchase.

  • + Is your Gift Shop open?

    Our Gift Shop is open and operated by us: every purchase helps to support us.

    You are welcome to shop at any time during your visit or browse when you depart the site, and we can bag multiple items ready for you to collect at your convenience.

    We also have a great on-line shop to which we are constantly adding new lines.

     

     

  • + Do I have to Arrive / Depart at set times?

    For general admission we are not operating with timed entry slots so there is no need to arrive at a particular time.

    Your booking confirmation will confirm the session Opening / Closing times and you choose to arrive / depart within those times.

    If you have booked to visit us for an Event then we do request you arrive at a particular time and this will be on your booking confirmation.

  • + I have a Gift Ticket - how do I book my visit?

    If you are the lucky recipient of a Gift Ticket...

    You must call us to book your visit: tickets cannot be redeemed via our online booking system and we cannot guarantee 'walk-in' availability. Gift Tickets are valid for the season shown and cannot be extended.

     

    Terms & Conditions
    ·      Gift Tickets are valid for the season stated and cannot be extended: please check the website for season dates and opening times etc.
    ·      Gift Tickets cannot be redeemed via our on-line booking system. You are required to book by calling us at least 48 hours prior to your intended visit date. The Centre operates to a maximum capacity and your Gift Ticket does not guarantee entry on any given date if you have not booked in advance.

    .       You are required to hand in your Gift Ticket on arrival.

    ·      All children must be accompanied & supervised at all times by an adult / senior.
    ·      No photocopies accepted.
    ·      Gift Tickets cannot be replaced or refunded if lost.
    ·      Gift Tickets cannot be refunded, transferred or exchanged for cash.
    ·      Gift Tickets cannot be redeemed against purchases in The Launch Box, Café or Gift Shop.
    ·      Gift Tickets cannot be redeemed for Special Events / Astronomy Festival etc.
    ·      Your visit will be subject to current government guidelines and restrictions.
    ·      We reserve the right to refuse entry.

  • + Is the planetarium suitable for my group?

    If you want something different for your school, community or private group then a visit from our inflatable planetarium is a fantastic option. As a presenter led show, we can tailor our presentations to suit the needs of your group.

  • + Is the inflatable planetarium 'plug & play'?

    Our planetarium service is designed to be an interactive experience, led by presenters who are professional and adaptable. With backgrounds as teachers, scientists and astronomers: they will bring an immersive experience that will excite and enthral all audiences.

    We send 2 people ensuring opportunity for Q&A, subject to your own timetable, and all have a Disclosure & Barring Service (DBS) Enhanced Certificate and many are registered STEM Ambassadors.

  • + We are a school group: what year groups do you cover?

    We offer a wide range of presentations covering a substantial amount of the curriculum in science from reception through to A-level.

  • + Is it relevant to the national curriculum?

    As an interactive experience, session content is flexible and presentations can be geared towards specific learning objectives and curriculum targets. As a general idea, we can cover:

    Key Stage 1

    Working Scientifically 

    • asking simple questions and recognising that they can be answered in different ways
    • identifying and classifying
    • using their observations and ideas to suggest answers to questions

    Seasonal Changes

    • observe changes across the 4 seasons
    • observe and describe weather associated with the seasons and how day length varies

     


    Key Stage Lower 2

    Working Scientifically

    • using straightforward scientific evidence to answer questions or to support their findings.
      Light
    • recognise that they need light in order to see things and that dark is the absence of light
    • notice that light is reflected from surfaces
    • recognise that light from the sun can be dangerous and that there are ways to protect their eyes
    • recognise that shadows are formed when the light from a light source is blocked by an opaque object
    • find patterns in the way that the size of shadows change

    States of matter  

    • compare and group materials together, according to whether they are solids, liquids or gases

     

    Key Stage Upper 2
    Earth and Space

    • describe the movement of the Earth and other planets relative to the sun in the solar system
    • describe the movement of the moon relative to the Earth
    • describe the sun, Earth and moon as approximately spherical bodies
    • use the idea of the Earth’s rotation to explain day and night and the apparent movement of the sun across the sky

    Forces

    • explain that unsupported objects fall towards the Earth because of the force of gravity acting between the Earth and the falling object
    • identify the effects of air resistance, water resistance and friction, that act between moving surfaces

    Light

    • use the idea that light travels in straight lines to explain that objects are seen because they give out or reflect light into the eye
    • explain that we see things because light travels from light sources to our eyes or from light sources to objects and then to our eyes
    • use the idea that light travels in straight lines to explain why shadows have the same shape as the objects that cast them

     

    Key Stage 3

    Forces

    • non-contact forces: gravity forces acting at a distance on Earth and in space, forces between magnets, and forces due to static electricity
    • forces being needed to cause objects to stop or start moving, or to change their speed or direction of motion (qualitative only)

    Light

    • light waves travelling through a vacuum; speed of light
      Space
    • gravity force, weight = mass x gravitational field strength (g), on Earth g=10 N/kg, different on other planets and stars; gravity forces between Earth and Moon, and between Earth and sun (qualitative only)
    • our sun as a star, other stars in our galaxy, other galaxies
    • the seasons and the Earth’s tilt, day length at different times of year, in different hemispheres
    • the light year as a unit of astronomical distance

     

    Key Stage 4

    Forces and Motion

    • acceleration caused by forces; Newton’s First Law
    • weight and gravitational field strength

    Waves

    • electromagnetic waves, velocity in vacuum; waves transferring energy; wavelengths and frequencies from radio to gamma-rays
    • uses in the radio, microwave, infra-red, visible, ultra-violet, X-ray and gamma-ray regions, hazardous effects on bodily tissues

    Space physics

    • the main features of the solar system
    • Life cycle of a star
    • Orbital motion, natural and artificial satellites
    • Red-shift
  • + How long does each show last?

    Each presentation lasts approx. 30 – 45 minutes, depending on your schedule.

    The whole experience will include pre-presentation points, entry / exit, and questions.

  • + Where can you set up the dome?

    The dome can be set up in any indoor venue space such as your hall or gym, and taken down at lunchtime if required. Please ensure your timetable gives sufficient time for disinfecting protocols.

    Please see “Our Domes” page for dimensions.

  • + What access requirements does the planetarium have?

    We need to unload / load our van as close as possible to the venue. Please inform us at the time of booking if there are any parking issues at your venue.

    There are several large components to unload so we must also know about venue access i.e. stairs or narrow doorways. The equipment is transported in wheeled hard cases.

    If the presentation area is on an upper floor then a lift is required for moving the equipment.

    Presenters cannot move large items or clear the space when they arrive on site, so the floor surface needs to be cleared, clean and dry prior to our set up.

    At end of the visit presenters will ensure the space is left as they found it.

  • + How long do you need to set up / pack away?

    Unloading and set up of the planetarium takes approximately 40 minutes, with similar time required for pack down and loading.

    There should not be any other activity in the venue space during set up / pack down.

    Presenters will do their very best to supply presentations to fit your schedule / timetable as arranged at the time of booking.

  • + We need the hall for lunch, is it still possible to have the planetarium?

    Yes

    Additional time will be required during the day if the planetarium has to be deflated and cleared for pupil lunch requirements etc. so please factor this into your schedule.

  • + Does the planetarium have wheelchair access?

    The dome has a zipped step-through opening.

    Wheelchair access is possible, but must be discussed at the time of booking.

  • + How can I book?

    To check availability, make a booking, or just to ask further questions please fill in the contact form or contact us via email: planetarium@the-observatory.org

    Booking: When we agree a date with you, we will make a provisional booking.

    If another client requests the same date, we will give you 14 days to confirm and pay before releasing the date.

    When you have confirmed details, you will be emailed an invoice.

    The booking is confirmed when we receive payment (BACS, card or cheque).

  • + How can I pay?

    Payment accepted by BACS, card or cheque.

     

    BACS: Please use our Invoice Number as reference.

    HSBC   Account 02314916   Sort Code  40 -03 -21

     

    Cheque payee: Science Projects Ltd

  • + Can I cancel?

    Cancellations

    If you need to cancel, this must be received by us in writing no later than 14 days prior to the visit.

    We cannot give refunds for cancellations received within 7 days of the visit unless we decide there are exceptional circumstances.

    Cancellations more than 14 days prior to the date of our visit will not be charged.

    In exceptional circumstances, we reserve the right to cancel on the day for reasons related to the venue. If this happens, we will be unable to offer a refund.

    Reasons for this might be:

    -If our staff are refused entry because they do not provide DBS certificates. Our presenters will provide DBS certificate numbers but will not provide the actual certificate. This is to maintain confidentiality of personal details.

    -If the venue is unsuitable i.e. you cannot supply the required space or access

    -If audience behaviour is inappropriate, your staff do not take responsibility for behaviour or your staff are not present with the children.

    If we  have to cancel on the day due to vehicle breakdown we will contact you as soon as possible. A full refund will be given if we are unable to reschedule.

    If we are unable to attend due to sustained severe weather we will contact you to identify alternative dates.

    If your school is closed due to severe weather you MUST contact us.

  • + What happens in the case of an emergency in the inflatable dome?

    Before entering the planetarium each group will have a short pre-presentation talk regarding safety procedures, code of conduct etc.

    Entry and exit during the presentations is not possible unless in an emergency.

    Pupils must be accompanied by a teacher / adult from the school at all times and behaviour management remains the responsibility of the school staff at all times.

  • + How can I leave feedback?

    We aim to always provide an experience which meets expectations.

    All feedback is important so please help us monitor and improve our educational programme

    An evaluation form will be given to the group leader on the day of our visit and can also be downloaded from this site at any time.

    Please help us to help you by giving us your evaluation comments.

  • + Can you make Covid adaptations?

    Our staff can wear face coverings when within 2m of other people indoors and comply with all reasonable requests made by your venue. Please discuss this at the time of booking.

    Risk Assessment available. If there are any aspects that cause you concern please get in touch to discuss what we can do for you.

  • + Do you provide other immersive experiences?

    With a range of presenter backgrounds and knowledge we can create interactive presentations on many topics – just ask!

    Also not just space….. we can use the dome for immersive education and entertainment in art, history, biology and chemistry.

    We also have some full dome films available such as:

    ?     Back to the Moon for Good

    ?     From Earth to the Universe

    ?     International Astrophotographer of the Year: a visual feast of the best in astronomy photography

    ?     Cosmic Castaways

    ?     Dark Matter

    ?     The Incredible Sun

    ?     Cell Cell Cell

  • + How much does the inflatable planetarium cost?

    From £370 (+vat) plus distance charge.

    Travel is free within a 10 mile radius of The Centre (BN27 1RN). Beyond this distance, charges apply (based on postcode).

  • + How many pupils can the planetarium accommodate?

    The 'Cosmic Classroom can accommodate up to 1 class of pupils & adults, or 25 adults. 

    The audience will be seated on the floor to achieve max capacity.

    If chairs are required then capacity is reduced.

    Matting, cushions etc. may be required.

  • + What are the dome dimensions?

    DIMENSIONS: 5 M DOME
    The dome has a diameter of 5 m and height of 3.25 m, and requires 2 x 13 amp power sockets.
    The inflating tube / fan require a space of 1.2 m.

    The dome has a zipped step-through opening.
    Wheelchair access is possible, but must be discussed at the time of booking.

     

    DIMENSIONS: 7 M DOME