Blog post

A Guide to Visiting The Observatory Science Centre at Herstmonceux

March 15, 2019

Originally established in Greenwich, the Royal Observatory moved to Sussex when skies became too smoky to see the night sky clearly in 1940’s London. Having since moved again, this time to Cambridge, the Royal Observatory left their historic telescopes behind which now lend themselves as the focal point for the Observatory Science Centre at Herstmonceux in its current form. The museum hosts a number of special events and workshops in addition to 100 interactive hands-on exhibits and exhibitions

Where?

Herstmonceux, near Hailsham, East Sussex

Getting there

Car: Easy access and free parking via the A22.

Train: Nearest train station at Polegate which is just over 5 miles from Herstmonceux.

Duration of visit

Allow 2 hours. Longer if you are attending a workshop or special event.

Cost

A family ticket for 2 adults and 2 children (aged 4+) currently costs £30.55.

Term time, mid week visits are ideal for preschoolers…children under 4 are admitted FREE of charge so an adult and their preschoolers can visit for just £9.65.

Blue Peter Badge holders can visit for free.

If you think the Observatory might be somewhere you’d like to visit more often they have some great deals for annual membership – a family of 4 can join for just £154 for the whole year!

The Observatory is a registered educational charity and are reliant on paying guests for the upkeep of their telescopes and exhibitions.

Full details on prices can be found here.

Highlights

In the grounds visitors can explore the interactive Discovery Park where science has been blended perfectly with play. There are also several water play features popular with younger visitors, all in the shadow of the stunning observatory domes.

Inside the main building the opportunities to explore and interact continue with exhibition galleries on forces, light & colour, astrometry and Earth and beyond. We loved the vacuum lift, the tornado experiment, exploring the planets and watching the plasma balls come to life!

Guests can also visit the domes. The ‘Domes of Discovery’ exhibition tells the 300 year story of the Royal Observatory and of course there are further hands-on exhibits to appeal to younger visitors. There are also regular open evenings where guests of all ages can see the night sky through the vast telescopes.

In addition to the Science Centre’s exhibition displays children can sign up to attend a wide range of workshops and courses during school holidays. The Easter break will see the centre hosting events on fossils, man on the moon, an astronaut academy, rocket science and car power. Please visit the website for further details on these activities.

Food

The Observatory has a cafe on site. Located on the ground floor the cafe is based in a room that was formerly an optics laboratory and has seating for 36.

Anything else?

Why not visit Herstmonceux Castle at the same time? A short walk from the observatory, joint tickets are available for standard days (not valid during special events). You can read about our experience at their Medieval Festival here.

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