Camera Obscura

Coronavirus closure

Visitor notice: All Royal Museums Greenwich sites are currently closed to visitors, but you can still join us for online events and search our digital collectionsFind out more

Essential information

Opening times: 
10.30am – 4pm daily
Admission: 
Ticketed
Location: 
Royal Observatory, Camera Obscura, Meridian Courtyard

The Camera Obscura is currently closed. 

Watch a fascinatingly intricate camera obscura showing Greenwich and the Thames in real time.

The Royal Observatory Greenwich camera obscura is housed in a small summerhouse in the Meridian Courtyard.

There have been a number of camera obscuras at Greenwich, dating from the late 17th century till the mid-19th century. The current one was installed in 1994 and shows a close-up, moving panorama of Greenwich and the Thames, the National Maritime Museum and the Royal Naval College.

View from Camera Obscura at Royal Observatory, Greenwich
View from Camera Obscura at Royal Observatory, Greenwich

What is a Camera Obscura? 

A precursor to the photographic camera, it is also known as a pinhole image. A natural optical phenomenon, it occurs when an obstructed image is displayed through a small hole. When the image is reversed and inverted onto an opposite wall, it offers the viewer a close up look at the image. This method was originally used to study eclipses, without needing to look at the sun.