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Public Visits

The Observatory is a private teaching and research establishment, not a tourist attraction; it is not open to visitors, except as summarised below.

– Booking now closed for sold-out 2014/15 season –

The Observatory holds free public open evenings, normally fortnightly on Fridays during UCL's autumn and winter terms (October–March inclusive), 18:30–19:40 and 19:45–20:55. The earlier tour may be preferable for families with children, but note that the content and nature of the tours (including negotiating some steep, open-tread stairs) mean they may not suitable for all children younger than 7–8 years old. (A Saturday-evening tour is usually also offered each term for visitors unable to attend on Fridays for, e.g., religious reasons; these visits start at 19:00.)

Visitors are given a short introductory lecture followed by a full tour of the telescopes and facilities. During the tour season, only about 1 evening in 3 or 4 is clear, and in any event it may that neither the Moon nor the brighter planets are well placed for viewing. Nonetheless, if weather permits, visitors will normally be given the opportunity to view the sky through the Fry 8-inch refractor.

N.B. – unfortunately, the site is not wheelchair-friendly, with gravelled grounds and steep stairways. Disabled visitors should contact us well in advance to discuss access requirements.

There is no on-site visitor parking (other than by prior arrangement for disabled visitors).

Advance booking is essential; tours are very popular, and places are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis. A calendar of tour availability is given below; note that we have a strict limit on numbers, so even if there are "places available", this may mean only a single space.

– Booking now closed for sold-out 2014/15 season –

Schools visits

For school visits please see our Outreach information.

Private visits

We will consider requests for private group visits, subject to scheduling constraints. The itinerary will be similar to that for regular public tours (and is subject to the same caveats concerning weather conditions). Daytime visitors may be able to view the Sun using our specialised equipment. Charges are levied to cover staffing costs: 1-12 persons, £120; 13-24, £180; 25-36, £240. We regret that groups larger than 36 cannot normally be accommodated.

Personal programmes

From time to time we receive requests from amateur astronomers and others wishing to use Observatory equipment for personal research programmes. We regret that we must decline such requests, because of our teaching schedules, and because of security and insurance considerations. Interested parties may have supervised access to the telescopes through our Certificate in Astronomy.

– Booking for public tours now closed for sold-out 2014/15 season –