The Observatory is a private teaching and research establishment, not a tourist attraction; it is not open to visitors, except as summarised below.
The Observatory holds free public open evenings, roughly 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 be 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, in particular, religious reasons; these visits start at 19:00.)
Visitors are given a short introduction to the Observatory by one of the guides, then divided into groups for a guided 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, and those of limited mobility, 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). Recommendations for reaching the site are given here.
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.
Bookings requests should be made through the Observatory administrator, Mrs Kay Nakum, on 020 3549 5807, or by email to
Sessions may be cancelled at short notice if, in our view, extreme weather conditions make it hazardous to travel to the Observatory or to visit the grounds (e.g., ice or snow). Under such circumstances we will make every reasonable effort to contact booked visitors, and an alternative session will be offered. Because of this, it is a requirement that a valid contact phone number be communicated to Kay or via email when booking, for each booking.
For school visits please see our Outreach information.
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.
UCL Observatory - 553 Watford Way - Mill Hill - London - NW7 2QS
University College London - Gower Street - London - WC1E 6BT
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