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The Observatory Science Centre
East Sussex
BN27 1RN
Tel: 01323 832731
Fax: 01323 832741

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Astronomy Festival 2018

Dates for 2019 are 30th August - 1st September 2019

We are delighted to be launching a new website for 2019 and we thank you for your patience whilst we populate the new site. All the informatio for the Astronomy Festival 2019 will appear on the ne website.

What you managed to help fund in 2017!

DISASTER! In October 2017 one of the shutters on Dome D had a major problem. Now fixing it was not going to be easy without some serious specialised scaffolding! Of course specialised scaffolding is not cheap and takes twice as long to put up as ordinary scaffolding. Anyway the work had to be carried out and thankfully the scaffolding company managed to pull out all the stops and get the tower up quickly and efficiently. The essential work was carried out and then we took the opportunity to continue our maintenance programme so everything was greased and oiled, tweaked and adjusted. The Dome was up and ready again within about 3 weeks following the initial problem - just in time for the Uniformed Twilight week (which incidentally was mostly cloudy!!!). Have a look at the photo gallery to see the dome and scaffolding.

We want to take this opportunity to thank all of you who give so generously to our raffle - YOUR DONATIONS REALLY HELP. THANK YOU!

This year there will be another Grand Prize Raffle Draw with the first prize once again being donated by David Hinds Ltd to whom we are very grateful.

Camp under the backdrop of the observatory domes:

•There are a limited number of pitches so BOOK EARLY!
• Friday, Saturday and Sunday (31st August/1st/2nd September)
• £30 per pitch regardless of the number of nights. Allows up to 5 people per pitch.
• Size of pitch: 7.5m x 7.5m. Please note that we cannot accomodate tents, caravans or motorhomes that are larger than your pitch. There are plenty of camping sites in the local area that would be more suitable for your needs.
• If you are bringing a caravan or motorhome with toilet facilities, please note that there will be no provision for emptying toilet waste.
• Pitches will be allocated beforehand on a first come first served basis. Please select your pitch from the camping site map at the top of this page before you phone the Centre to book. Please note that there are different areas for families, adults only and general camping. Please select a pitch in the appropriate area for your group. While we endeavour to update the map on a regular basis we cannot guarantee that the pitch you choose will be available when you book. Please select an alternative as a back up.

Catering Facilities

The Centre's cafe will be open and serving a broad range of light meals, hot & cold drinks, snacks etc. The Centre's cafe will be open as follows:

Friday       2.30pm - 10.30pm
Saturday  10am - 5.30pm
Saturday  6.30pm - 10.30pm
Sunday     10am - 5.30pm

Other catering facilities will be available on the camping field
Alternative Accomodation at Herstmonceux Castle

If you do not fancy camping but wish to stay within walking distance of the festival then this year Herstmonceux Castle have some standard rooms available.

Herstmonceux Castle is located within a 600 acre estate and as an operating International Study Centre, offers 3-star rated campus accommodation. The rooms are located in Bader Hall about 500 metres walk from the castle where breakfast is served in the dining room.

Twin standards with shared washrooms along the corridor - £38.00

Single standard with shared washrooms along the corridor - £22.00

Prices include breakfast

For bookings please contact Bader Hall on 01323 834400 or
Admission 2018

Pre-booked Weekend Registration

If you are able to join us for the whole weekend then we are again offering a fantastic deal including discounted EARLY BIRD registration. 

MEMBERS: While your membership is not valid for the Friday or Saturday of the festival your membership is valid for Sunday 2nd September.

Adult Weekend Registration £40 £32
Child Weekend Registration £30 £24
Family of 4 Weekend Registration £110 £88
Family of 5 Weekend Registration £140 £112

With your weekend registration you will receive a souvenir, a ticket to visit the gardens and grounds of Herstmonceux Castle and a wrist band which permits entry into The Centre from 2.30 pm Friday afternoon until 6pm on Sunday (according to the session times listed below. Please note that the Centre closes between 6pm and 6.30pm on Saturday).

Please also note that the Centre is not open to the general public on Friday the 31st August and the gates will not open until 2.30pm. We are also closed on Monday 3rd September.

Weekend registration can be booked in advance (does NOT include camping). Wrist bands are not transferable and you are required to wear your wrist band at all times. The Centre reserves the right to refuse entry to anyone who is not wearing a wrist band.

Please just phone the Centre on 01323 832731 and you can make a booking using a credit or debit card. Thank you.

Admission without pre-booking

If you do not wish to prebook weekend registration then you are able to just turn up and pay the admission price per session (there are four sessions including the 'Open Evenings')

Adult: £10 per session
Child: £7.50 per session
Under 4: FREE

This price applies to EACH of the four sessions.

Opening Times (please note the Centre is not open to the general public or campers before 2.30pm):

Friday:        2.30pm - 11pm (also listed as an Open Evening)
Saturday:   10am - 6pm
Saturday:   6.30pm - 11pm (also listed as an Open Evening)
Sunday:     10am - 6pm

Herstmonceux Castle is well worth a visit during your stay. There is a separate admission price if you do not purchase weekend registration.

Entry to the gardens and grounds of the castle: £6 adult, £5 senior, £3 child. Tours of the castle are sometimes available at an additional cost.
Provisional Programme of Activities (subject to change)

Friday (2.30pm - 11pm)

• 4.30pm: FREE late afternoon screening of a Sci Fi Classic 'Galaxy Quest'
7.30pm: FREE opening lecture 
• Viewing through the historic telescopes (weather permitting)
• Viewing through smaller telescopes with amateur astronomy societies (weather permitting)

Saturday Day (10am - 6pm)

Four lectures throughout the day (£3 per person per lecture*)
• Talks about the telescopes in Dome E
• Planetarium shows
Trade stands
Astronomy Society stands
• Solar Observing
Activities with The South Downs National Park
• Family Activities
• Raffle
• Newton's Bar 
• 'Meet the NASA Scientist' 11am - 12noon and 2pm-3pm in Dome B.

Saturday Evening (6.30pm - 11pm)

• 8pm Pub Quiz with Steve Collingwood (SCTelescopes)
• Viewing through the historic telescopes (weather permitting)
• Viewing through smaller telescopes with amateur astronomy societies (weather permitting)

Sunday (10am - 6pm)

Three lectures throughout the day (£3 per person per lecture*)
• Talks about the telescopes in Dome E
• Planetarium shows
• Family Activities
• Trade stands
Astronomy Society stands
• Newton's Bar
• Solar Observing
Activities with The South Downs National Park
• 'Meet the NASA Scientist' 2pm-3pm in Dome B
• UK Garrison and their Storm Troopers
Grand Prize Raffle draw

All this PLUS Spectacular Science exhibits both indoors and outdoors PLUS Astro Radio will be broadcasting LIVE during the festival.


*SPECIAL OFFER LECTURE TICKETS: If you would like to pre-book ALL 7 lectures then we are offering 7 for the price of 6.

Confirmed speakers

Astronomy Now

Astronomy Now is the UK’s biggest astronomy magazine, with 132 feature-packed pages. Since 1987 it has been essential reading for astronomers in the UK and around the world. Each month, the magazine contains features, reviews, news and practical guides on all aspects of astronomy, from the latest scientific discoveries to advice for those discovering the night sky for the first time.

Telescope House

Telescope House is run by the long-established team of Broadhusrt Clarkson and Fuller Ltd, who, in partnership with the optical manufacturing giant Bresser GmbH, formed Bresser UK, our parent company, in 2014.  The Telescope House shop and website continues to offer some of the best Telescopes and astronomical equipment from throughout the world and the expert team here is dedicated to providing taylor made advice to amateur astronomers of all ages and levels of experience, as well as providing astronomical project oversight for schools, colleges and universities.  No matter how big or small your budget, the staff at Telescope House will be here to guide and advise you on all aspects of astronomical observation, telescope and equipment choice.

365 Astronomy

365Astronomy supplies its customers mainly but not exclusively in the U.K. with reflector and refractor telescopes, apochromatic telescopes, radio telescopes, observatory equipment, planetarium projectors and domes, binoculars, spotting scopes, microscopes, specialised astronomical cameras, spectroscopes, digital SLR cameras, astronomy related books, globes, maps and atlases and a wide range of various accessories & adapters.
South Downs National Park

The South Downs National Park will be promoting their International Dark Sky Reserve and answering questions on where to go, what to see and how you can do your bit for light pollution. We will have a large sky quality map of the downs with some kids activities including some selfie stand dressing up props and ‘dig the moon’ pit. We’ll also have some telescopes to look through if the weather is clear.

Wealden Astronomers

A group of like-minded space enthusiasts engaged in a range of activities with people of all ages, whether already interested in astronomy or just curious. We offer a warm welcome whatever your level of knowledge and experience and include you in our friendly group who all have a passion for astronomy.

East Sussex Astronomical Society

East Sussex Astronomical Society is a friendly bunch of astro-enthusiasts with a very wide range of knowledge and interests. Our members come from all over Sussex and from as far away as south Surrey. We meet on the first Thursday of each month in Bexhill, featuring excellent speakers and a monthly sky diary. 

We have our own Dark Site for members to bring their equipment and observe the sky without light pollution, and we have a 16” Meade Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope in a dome that we are in the process of renovating for members to use.

Eastbourne Astronomical

The Society now has over 100 members and we welcome anyone interested in astronomy. We usually have a visiting speaker at our monthly meetings but we also have talks by our members, slide shows and demonstrations. Part of the evening is set aside for refreshments and informal discussions. There is a well-stocked library of books, magazines and videos, which members can borrow.

We also hold practical observing sessions for both beginners and experienced astronomers alike.


Brighton Astro is a place for cosmic enthusiasts from all walks of life to meet up, talk about the universe and gaze at the stars. Every month we host a FREE talk with drinks and nibbles and the opportunity to go out with our telescopes afterwards – weather permitting!

We're open to everyone, from beginners to experts. So why not join us and look to the stars?

Society for Popular Astronomy

The Society for Popular Astronomy was set up way back in 1953 (as the Junior Astronomical Society) to promote an interest in astronomy and help beginners of all ages to get started in this fascinating hobby. It’s a role we are still performing today!

Everyone is welcome to join the SPA, whether a novice or a more experienced enthusiast, and whether old or young. We believe we offer something for everyone.

However, we are particularly focused on helping the beginner to this, the oldest of sciences which still makes an enjoyable hobby in our modern day. Most of all, we aim to make stargazing fun!


Your chance to win a Celestron AstroMaster 102AZ refractor Telescope… while helping to raise much needed funds to preserve our wonderful historic telescopes and domes.

The Observatory Science Centre would like to thank David Hinds Ltd for generously donating this fantastic prize.

The raffle will be drawn on Sunday 2nd September at the Herstmonceux Astronomy Festival. The winner will be notified and their prize delivered as soon as possible thereafter.

1st Prize
Celestron AstroMaster 102AZ refractor Telescope SRP £229 PLUS accessories
Donated by David Hinds Ltd

If you're looking for a dual-purpose telescope appropriate for both terrestrial and celestial viewing, then the AstroMaster Series is for you. Each AstroMaster model is capable of giving correct views of land and sky. The AstroMaster Series produce bright, clear images of the Moon and planets. It is easy to see the moons of Jupiter and the rings of Saturn with every one of these fine instruments.

Tickets are £5.00 each
Local Accommodation

There are plenty of campsites in the local area which will provide electrical hook-up, showers and space for larger tents or vehicles. If you do not wish to camp but require local accomodation here are a few suggestions:

Cleavers Lyng B&B
Halfway House B&B
Big Sky Tipi luxury camping
Wartling Place B&B
Butlers Farm House B&B
Stone Acre Lodge B&B
Sandhurst B&B
Ivydene Guest Accomodation
Scolfes B&B
Lamb Inn, Wartling

Camping Site Map
Camping Rules and Regulations