Camera Obscura


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Essential information

Opening times: 
10am–5.30pm daily
Royal Observatory, Camera Obscura, Meridian Courtyard

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.