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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'


  • + 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 

  • + 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 Centre is located within the estate of  Herstmonceux Gardens and Grounds  but is a separate business.

    Due to COVID-19, we are currently unable to offer combined entry tickets to both attractions.

  • + Do you have a Membership Scheme?

    We have a popular Membership Scheme


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

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

  • + Is The Centre suitable for young children?

    The Centre is suitable for all ages and abilities. 

    Children are not 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 all children under 16 years of age must be accompanied and supervised by an adult at all times.


  • + Do you have to book for Stargazing Evenings?

    No you don't have to book because viewing through the telescopes is always subject to weather conditions.

    You do however have to book for our special themed evening events.

  • + Are there concession admission prices?

    As an independent, educational charity and 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 the unemployed. 

    We have a Membership Scheme which offers fantastic value for year round admission.

  • + Do I have to pre-book?


    We are operating a new system where all visitors are requested to pre-book online.

    This is to enhance visitor safety: limiting crowd density and enabling social distancing to be maintained.

    For NHS Test & Trace we are required to record all visitors on site.

    Privacy Notice: Test & Trace




  • + How do I pay when I'm on site?

    Please pay contactless (card / phone etc.) wherever possible once you are on site.

    Our tills at reception, shop, The Cafe and The Launch Box catering unit can accept cash if you have no alternative.



  • + Do I have to arrive / depart at specific times?

    YES as far as possible.

    Due to COVID-19 we have changed the way we operate and we are limiting the number of visitors on site for any of the sessions.

    Initially we are re-opening with 1 session per day 11 am - 3 pm (last admission 1 pm).

    Moving forward we may offer 2 sessions per day: 1 morning and 1 afternoon and these will have specific arrival / departure times. We may also offer future evening sessions: times will vary.

    Your booking will confirm your session arrival / departure times.


    PLEASE NOTE: If we have not received any bookings 2 days (48 hours) in advance of a particular date / session then we will NOT be able to open The Centre. This is due to staff rotas / availability.

  • + Are all areas of The Centre open?

    Our top priority is the safety of visitors and staff / volunteers which includes measures to maintain social distancing.

    Operating in an historic site means it is not possible to maintain social distancing in some areas and 2 exhibit galleries with narrow access (pinch points) are currently closed.

    However, we have created a large new exhibit space with a one-way system in the white geodesic dome. At certain times there will also be science demonstrations in the geodesic dome.

    We will continue to review our approach after re-opening and in-line with government guidance. 


  • + I have OSC Membership: do I still have to book on-line?


    It is essential that all visitors book on-line, including those with OSC Membership.

    This is to enhance visitor safety: limiting crowd density and enabling social distancing to be maintained.

    For NHS Test & Trace we are required to record all visitors on site.


    We are offering regular Member Only sessions: dates will be advertised in advance via Membership Emails & Newsletters.

    Please remember to bring Membership Cards with you for each person in the group otherwise you may be charged in full.

    You will also need to show your Membership Card to receive 20% discount in the shop.


  • + Can we purchase food and drink on site?


    The Launch Box catering unit and The Cafe are operating.

    There are new systems and menus, plus takeaway meal deals.


  • + Can I order a take-away?


    The Launch Box catering unit can prepare your order for your departure time and we have introduced take-away meal deals.


  • + Will your Shop be open?

    YES the shop will be open and every purchase helps to support us.

    When you arrive at reception, there will be protective covers over the shelves.

    Once you have been temperature checked and logged in you will be taken straight through to enjoy the science exhibits.

    Reception will be staffed throughout the day so you are welcome to return to the shop during your visit or browse when you depart the site, following social distancing.

    We are limiting the amount of stock on display, but 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.


  • + What safety measures have you put in place?

    When you visit you will see new safety measures in place.

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

    If any visitors refuse to follow guidelines they will be approached by staff. OSC reserves the right to ask visitors to leave, without reimbursing entry fee. Abuse of any kind towards staff or other visitors will not be tolerated.

    The safety and wellbeing of our visitors, staff and volunteers is our absolute priority.

  • + Can I book on the day of my visit? Do you allow 'walk-ins'?

    Booking online must be no less than 24 hours prior to your visit, although we strongly recommend you book as far in advance as possible.

    As an educational charity we are balancing staffing with visitor numbers, and shifts must be arranged in advance.

    PLEASE NOTE: If we have not received any bookings 48 hours in advance then we will NOT be able to open on that date.

    If you have not made a booking online, you are welcome to call us to check if we are open... If we have not reached capacity then we will be able to take your booking & payment on the phone.


    Similary: If we are open and you arrive at our reception but have not pre-booked, you will be able to pay in person if we are not at capacity.




  • + Do you have toilets on site?


    Toilet facilities are open with additional cleaning procedures in place. 

    We are operating a queue system with a Stop/Go turnstile to ensure social distancing is maintained.

    The access / gender neutral toilet is available by request and is located on the ground floor: please just ask a member of staff. This wheelchair accessible facility includes height adjustable changing bed and hoist.

    Baby Change facilities are in the access toilet room.


    We will always help our visitors wherever possible, but we cannot permit entry to use toilet facilities unless you have pre-booked admission.



  • + Do I need to wear a Face Covering when I visit?

    YES. Visitors are required to wear face coverings, in line with Government guidance, for your safety and the safety of other visitors and staff.

    We hope that everyone will be respectful of other visitors, staff and volunteers. Please speak to a member of staff if you have anby concerns or questions.

    SPECIFIC EXEMPTION CRITERIA? We welcome everyone but recognise there are circumstances where, for health, age or accessibility reasons, some visitors will not be able to wear face masks or coverings. The government lists specific 'legitimate reasons' why people do not need to wear a face covering, including:

    • Children under the age of 11
    • Not being able to put on, wear or remove a face covering because of a physical or mental illness or impairment, or disability
    • If putting on, wearing or removing a face covering will cause you severe distress
    • If you are travelling with or providing assistance to someone who relies on lip reading to communicate

    You are asked to wear face coverings when you are ordering / paying / collecting your items. Once you are seated in the marquee or outdoor benches you can remove your covering to enjoy your refreshments.

  • + What if I'm feeling unwell?

    Please do not visit The Observatory Science Centre if you’re feeling unwell.

    The main coronavirus symptoms to be aware of:

    • a high temperature
    • a new continuous cough
    • a loss or change to your sense of taste / smell

    We will temperature check all visitors on arrival and reserve the right to refuse entry.

    If you become unwell whilst on site please speak to a member of staff immediately.


    Staff will not come to site if they are feeling unwell.

    All staff are temperature checked on arrival and anyone with a high temperature is immediately sent home.



  • + Will I have to provide contact details?


    In order to support the NHS Test and Trace programme, we are taking contact details for the person making the booking or if this is a group, then the name of the lead person.

    Privacy Notice

  • + What date will The Centre re-open?

    We re-opened on Tuesday 18th August 2020.

    Please check our current open days / hours as we are not open everyday.



  • + What will your Opening Hours be?

    PLEASE NOTE: If we have not received any bookings 48 hours in advance then we will NOT open on that date.

    We release dates / times / booking availability every 2 weeks.

    During September & October TERM TIME we are opening for general visitors on Wednesday/Saturday/Sunday 11 am - 3 pm. (last admission 1 pm). Other weekdays are reserved for private visits and school groups.

    The local October mid-term school holiday is Friday 23rd October - Monday 2nd November and we hope to be open daily.









  • + I've changed my plans: can I have a refund?


    Tickets are non-refundable and non-transferable.

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


    You will be refunded if we have to close the science centre due to circumstances beyond our control