Get up close to beautiful Flamsteed House at the Royal Observatory Greenwich, designed by Sir Christopher Wren and historic home to Britain's Astronomers Royal.
See the historic Royal Observatory
Flamsteed House is the original Royal Observatory building at Greenwich. King Charles II instructed Wren, who was also an astronomer, to design the building in 1675 and it was completed the following year.
Buy a ticket to Flamsteed House and also get access to the Astronomy & Time Galleries and the Meridian Courtyard (ages 5 and under go free). The historic site also includes the Prime Meridian of the World and the UK's largest refracting telescope. While you're here, you can see:
Flamsteed House is where you can find the Royal Observatory’s Time and Longitude and Time and Greenwich galleries:
At sea, navigation is a matter of life and death. Out of sight of land, how can you tell where you are? Time and Longitude tells the story of the quest to find longitude at sea in the age before satellite navigation, and showcases Harrison's celebrated sea clocks.
This gallery looks at the historical need to develop increasingly accurate timekeeping see amazing objects including the actual GPS receiver used by Sir Robin Knox-Johnston on his record-breaking round-the-world voyage of 1994.
Astronomers Royal apartments
Take a fascinating glimpse into the apartments where the Astronomers Royal and their families lived and worked in our new Observatory Life display.
The role of Astronomer Royal was created by Charles II in 1675, when he appointed John Flamsteed to draw up a map of the heavens with enough accuracy to be reliable for navigation. Since Flamsteed there have been nine Astronomers Royal, including Edmond Halley and Nevil Maskelyne, each of whom have contributed to the world’s understanding of the stars, time and space.
The beautiful Octagon Room was designed to observe celestial events including eclipses, comets and planetary movements. However, the positioning of Flamsteed House meant that the original purpose of the Royal Observatory could not be fulfilled from the Octagon Room. With big windows, the room was perfect for watching the sky, but not ideal for positional observations, because none of the walls were aligned with a meridian. Most important positional observations were actually made in a small outhouse in the gardens, though King Charles II remained blissfully unaware of this.
The Octagon Room houses a selection of timepieces and astronomical instruments.
The Time Ball
On top of Flamsteed House is one of the world’s earliest public time signals, the bright red Time Ball, which has been in operation since 1833. See it drop at 1pm everyday!
In the courtyard of Flamsteed House there is a summerhouse, which is home to a camera obscura. It uses a lens and rotating mirror to project a close-up real-time moving panorama of Greenwich and the Thames, the National Maritime Museum and the Royal Naval College, and is open to the public during Museum opening hours.
Flamsteed House and the Octagon Room can be hired for corporate evening events.