Christmas opening times

Over the Christmas period the Royal Observatory, National Maritime Museum, Cutty Sark and Queen's House will be open as usual. We are closed to the public from 24-26 December. Plan your next visit

Take a stellar journey through our star-themed collections at the Queen's House and Royal Observatory in this trail inspired by stars. From beautiful art to astronomical instruments, these items are truly out of this world.

Follow the trail

Wall hanging showing two star clusters, 1850-1860
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Easily transportable, hangings like this one would have been used as visual aids for popular scientific lectures, held at various locations.

Sensor flows and dead pixels
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In his ‘ESO’ series, Tillmans explores the work of the European Southern Observatory’s telescopes at Cerro Parañal in Chile, a 21st-century equivalent of the Royal Observatory Greenwich in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

“Drawing on Space”, by American artist Michelle Stuart
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‘Drawing on Space’ forms part of Michelle Stuart’s recent body of work, in which she arranges astronomy-themed photographs in a grid, lending a narrative character to her poetic pieces.

The Astronomers’ Club
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Smirke’s appealing painting shows the meeting of an archetypal astronomers’ club, meeting to look at and talk about the stars.

Commander James Clark Ross, 1800-62
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James Clark Ross was one of the great polar explorers, a star of his day who used the Pole Star to discover the North Pole. 

Celestial table sphere: Hercules
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This exquisite globe shows the hero Hercules supporting the starry celestial sphere on his shoulders.

Le Marchand des Lunettes
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Helman’s print after a painting by Le Prince shows the extent to which star gazing could become impolite and risqué in the 18th century. Although an activity encouraged between men and women, it also offered the possibility for intrigue after dark.

Astronomy, F. Bull, W. Herbert and John Boydell, 1750–1800
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This fanciful print sets the stage for sociable star gazing. Well-dressed gentlemen and ladies converse in a fashionable garden, complete with classical ruins. They use a number of astronomical instruments – an armillary sphere, telescope and globe.

A Philosopher Giving a Lecture on the Orrery
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This famous image by Wright of Derby encapsulates how astronomy - studying the stars - became a social activity in the 18th century.

Grand Orrery
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Observe the motions of the planets in the night sky without ever leaving your parlour.