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

    Due to COVID-19 restrictions 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.


  • + 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 Centre suitable for young children?

    YES 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 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 the 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 on site for 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.

  • + 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?

    YES The Launch Box catering unit and The Cafe are operating with new systems and menus, plus takeaway meal deals.

    Thank you for supporting us...

  • + Can I order a take-away?


    The Launch Box catering unit can prepare your order for your departure time.

    Please enquire about take-away meal deals.


  • + 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.

    We reserve the right to refuse entry if you arrive with recognised symptoms.

    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

    If you become unwell whilst on site please speak to us immediately.


    Please be assured: our employees and volunteers will not come to site if they are feeling unwell. 

  • + Do I need to wear a face covering?

    It is no longer mandatory to wear a face covering.

    However you will see that many visitors and members of our team are choosing to wear them to protect others and to 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 current 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?


    In exceptional circumstances we will discuss transferring your booking to an alternative date; or 'paying-it-forward' if you have an event booking.

    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 discuss transferring your admission to an alternative date (subject to availability).

    Event Bookings are non-refundable, except where an event is cancelled by us. The Observatory Science Centre reserves the right to cancel events and refunds will be given in this instance.

    It is your responsibility to check event details prior to purchase and to ensure the information you have provided is accurate. Once purchased event tickets are non-refundable. However, in exceptional circumstances (no less than 48 hours prior to an event date) you can contact us and we will discuss 'paying-it-forward' for a future event (subject to availability).

    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.

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


    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 government guidance and the latest COVID-19 guidance.

  • + Can I bring dogs on site with me?

    Only assistance dogs can be brought into the science centre. Others will be refused entry and we are unable to refund your admission.

  • + Do I have to pre-book?

    It is strongly recommended that you book in advance.

    Even with the easing of restrictions (July 2021) we are still carefully monitoring visitor numbers, and controlling session availability in line with employee availability.

    We may have 'walk-in' capacity, but this cannot be guaranteed.



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

    We strongly recommend that you book in advance.

    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


    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 Estate of Herstmonceux Castle.

    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?

    We are continually assessing our opening times and dates in response to visitor demand and the latest COVID situation.

    We release bookings a few weeks in advance.




  • + Do I have to provide my contact details when I book?

    If you pre-book on-line you will be required to give personal details to complete the booking process.

    From July 19th 2021 the venue was no longer mandated to take personal details for NHS Test & Trace. We now follow the latest guidance provided by the Dept. for Health & Social Care.

    This guidance recommends that we collect and keep a limited record of employees, customers and visitors who come onto our premises for the purpose of contact tracing.  By maintaining records of staff, customers and visitors, and sharing these with NHS Test and Trace where requested, we can help to identify people who may have been exposed to coronavirus.

    Privacy Notice July 2021

    Our QR code is clearly visible at the entrances if you wish to scan for the Test & Trace app.

  • + Do you have toilets on site?

    YES our toilet facilities are operational.

    The access / gender neutral toilet is available by request and is located on the ground floor: please just ask a member of our team. 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 unless you have pre-booked admission.

  • + Is your Gift Shop open?

    YES our Gift Shop is open.

    Reception / Gift Shop is staffed throughout each session so you are welcome to return to the shop during your visit or browse when you depart the site.

    We can bag multiple items ready for you to collect at your convenience and you can arrange to visit the shop by prior appointment even when the science centre is closed!

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

    Thank you for supporting us...


  • + 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 recipient of a Gift Ticket we need you to call us to book your visit as tickets cannot be redeemed via our online booking system.

    Please bring your Gift Tickets with you on the day and hand in at reception.

    Gift Tickets are subject to the Terms & Conditions printed on the back of the ticket.

    They are valid for the season shown and cannot be extended.

  • + When will you be open in 2022?

    We are planning to be open from the end of January right through to early December 2022.

    This website and our social media platforms will be the primary source for the very latest information


    We will release booking dates / times monthly and we can't wait to welcome you back...