The Leonid meteor shower occurs as Earth passes through the deris trail left behind by comet Tempel-Tuttle. These meteors are very fast and often leave persistent trains behind them. The peak activity is the evening of the 17th and pre-dawn hours of the 18th November when you may see about 10 meteors per hour. While we are just past the peak you should be able to still see a good few meteors. The natural limits of the shower are 6th - 30th November. The phase of the Moon is one day after full Moon so pretty bright.
The Taurids shower marks the time when the Earth passes through the dust trail of comet Encke. The debris left behind by comet Enke is the largest in the inner solar system and it takes several weeks for the Earth to pass through this trail giving an extended period of activity; 20th October - 10th December. The peak activity for the Taurids is on the 12th November but given the protracted period of activity you may see meteors from comet Enke too.
While we don't use the telescopes to spot meteors, if the weather does permit you will get a chance to look at some other interesting celestial objects through the large telescopes.
The evening aims to be both informal and informative with a talk presented by a guest speaker. Following the talk, if the weather is nice and clear you will have the opportunity to try and spot some fast moving meteors with the unaided eye and look through the telescopes at other interesting celestial objects. If the weather is unsuitable for viewing, the talk will go ahead regardless and a comprehensive tour of the telescopes will replace viewing. On the tour you will be taken into domes not open to the public during the day. During this part of the evening you will move around The Centre in smaller groups to avoid congestion. If you are attending with others who have booked separately please let us know in advance because the groups are arranged prior to the event.
We DO NOT cancel this event if the weather is unsuitable for viewing.
PLEASE NOTE: Gates open at 6.30pm and the talk will be at 8.15pm. The Centre closes at midnight. All the exhibits will be available for you to explore when you arrive. While you don't need to arrive at 6.30pm the gates will be closed at 7.30pm so please arrive before then.
Itinerary for the evening:
- 6.30pm: gates open (please arrive before 7.30pm). You will be issued with a coloured itineray and map. The colour denotes the group that you will be divided into for viewing after the talk.
- 6.30pm - 8.00pm: Food served from the Launch Box; drinks/snacks including a bar served from the cafe; time to explore the exhibits and the exhibitions. Astronomers will be based in the domes and while it will be too light to see anything through the telescopes you can go along and have a chat to them (bear in mind you will be going into the domes following the talk. Viewing is subject to weather).
- 8.15pm - 9.15pm: Talk
- 9.15 - 9.30pm: time to get into your groups
- 9.30pm - 12.00am: Groups will be taken to each area (domes E, D & C and the lawns) for viewing (weather permitting). You will be in each area for 30 minutes before moving on to the next area (this will be clearly marked on your coloured itinerary).
- 12.00am: Centre closes
The Launch Box serves:
- Burger & Fries
- Cheeseburger & Fries
- Falafel Burger & Fries
- Frankfurter Hot Dog & Fries
It makes it easier for us if you book food in advance. Please phone The Centre on 01323 832731 and you can pre-order food and pay using a debit or credit card. The cafe will also be open for hot/cold drinks and snacks plus alcoholic beverages.
Following the talk, if the weather is nice and clear you will have the opportunity to try and spot some fast moving meteors with the unaided eye and look through the telescopes at other interesting celestial objects.
If the weather is unsuitable for viewing, the talk will go ahead regardless and a comprehensive tour of the telescopes will replace viewing. On the tour you will be taken into domes not open to the public during the day. We do NOT cancel this event if the weather is unsuitable for viewing.
Numbers are limited to 100 (age 18+ only), so book early to secure your place.
The evening aims to be both informal and informative.
You may book online using Paypal or over the phone. To make a booking over the phone using a credit or debit card please telephone 01323 832731 to secure your place(s).
If you are looking for a present then a Gift Ticket package is available for this event. Please go to the online shop to purchase your Gift Ticket package. Gift Tickets terms and conditions can be found on the FAQs page.
Suitable for adults only
Please wear warm clothing and sensible footwear. 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, preferably red light. We strongly encourage people not to use white light torches especially in the domes as this destroys night vision.
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 and the tour of the Domes (with or without viewing) takes you into these domes. If you require further information please do not hesitate to get in touch.
If using Sat Nav, please use ‘Wartling Road’ and NOT our postcode.
PARKING: There is ample free parking on the grassed car park in front of The Centre.
If you are a blue badge holder, there are 5 parking bays available at the back of the science centre, adjacent to our ramped entrance. Please note that by virtue of the historic nature of the building, the domes are accessed by steep narrow stairs.
By booking this event you agree to abide by our refund/cancellation policy.
Please 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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The Observatory Science Centre is part of 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.