Are you interested in the night sky? Have you ever wondered what it would be like to look at the stars, planets and the moon through some of the country's largest telescopes? Well here is your opportunity! Join us on our open evenings and take a glimpse of what it would have been like to use these amazing instruments.
Not all the historic telescopes are operational but we usually open Dome A, Dome D and Dome E. Have a look at Our Telescopes to find out more about the historic instruments. On some evenings we swap Dome A for Dome C which houses a modern 16-inch Meade telescope.
Viewing is always subject to weather conditions. If you are specifically coming just to look through the telescopes then please check our local weather before embarking on a long journey. We do not cancel Open Evenings in the event of poor weather; we encourage you to still come along and explore the indoor exhibits plus we offer a cloudy night contingency plan which is usually a planetarium style talk if there are enough visitors in The Centre. However, please note that if there are no visitors in The Centre by 8pm (or 9.30pm in late spring/early summer) then we close the gates and go home!
Please note that Open Evenings are run as separate events to a daytime visit and therefore your daytime receipt is NOT valid for the evening and you are unable to stay in The Centre. However, if you have visited during the day when there is an Open Evening and you would like to return for the evening session then we are offering a special discounted rate of just £6 per person (only valid on production of a receipt purchased on the same day).
The times of the Open Evenings vary during the year but normal admission price applies on all Open Evenings except during the Astronomy Festival. See below for details of the dates and times of all our regular Open Evenings. Other Open Evenings for special occasions are listed eleswhere.
Normal admission price applies except during the Astronomy Festival.
No booking required
While the Centre makes every effort to accomodate wheel chair users and others with mobility issues, by virtue of the nature of the building (grade II* listed), the telescopes are accessed by steep narrow stairs. If you require further information please do not hesitate to get in touch. Please also note that the telescope domes are not suitable for prams/push chairs as there is limited space available. Open Evenings are not recommended for very young children.
WARNING! Our site is very dark and we keep lighting to a minimum to preserve night vision and make sure you have the best possible experience in terms of viewing the night sky. This inevitably means that there are areas that are dimly lit or very dark. With high walkways, ramps and steps throughout the Centre you need to take great care when moving around. PLEASE BRING A TORCH and wear sensible footwear. However, we strongly encourage people not to use white light torches especially in the domes as this destroys night vision, therefore we would ask you to use red light torches if you have one. We also recommend warm clothing.
DO NOT bring laser pointers into The Centre. Our staff and volunteers do use laser pointers as teaching aids but they adhere to strict rules and regulations about their use within The Centre and therefore they are controlled. Laser pointers can be dangerous especially if misused.
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Adult only Open Evening Enquiry
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The Observatory Science Centre is operated by Science Projects Ltd, a company limited by guarantee registered in England No: 02186073 and a registered charity No: 298542. The registered office is 3 – 15 Stirling Road, Acton, London. W3 8DJ. UK.