September 2016 Events at the Royal Observatory Greenwich

Watch cult films at London's only planetarium in our Silver Screen Sci-Fi season. This month’s screening is 1979 film, Star Trek: The Motion Picture. You can also join the Daytime Sky Watch session and look at Venus through the iconic Great Equatorial Telescope; see the winning images from this year’s Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2016 exhibition; and learn more about astronomy with our adult courses.

Admission charges apply to planetarium shows, Flamsteed House and Meridian Courtyard, courses and some events – see below for details. Entry into the Astronomy Centre is free.

Exhibitions and Events

Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2016

The Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2016 exhibition at the Royal Observatory Greenwich displays the spectacular winning images from this year’s competition in the Observatory’s Astronomy Centre.

From distant galaxies to our very own Milky Way and neighbouring planets, the entries reflect our enduring fascination with the night sky. Images on display include the winners from the nine main categories, as well as two special prize winners.

Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2016 is organised by the Royal Observatory Greenwich in association with Insight Investment and BBC Sky at Night Magazine. Entry to the Astronomy Centre and to the exhibition is free of charge.

Special Events

Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979)

Admiral Kirk returns to the captain’s chair to investigate an unknown alien entity on a direct course to Earth, accompanied by the legendary original crew of the USS Enterprise.

Following the movie there will be a talk from one of our astronomers on the science behind the film. Popcorn, confectionery, soft drinks and alcoholic beverages will be available for purchase in the Planetarium foyer before the event.

Five Decades on the Final Frontier

Venture to the final frontier and beyond through planetarium shows and interactive sessions to celebrate 50 years of space science fiction.

Daytime Sky Watch: Venus

Look at Venus through the iconic Great Equatorial Telescope to find out more about this beautiful planet and its place in developing our understanding of the scale of the universe.

Please note this event is weather dependent. In the event of cloudy weather, the talk will proceed as normal with unique footage of Venus taken through the telescope shown in place of observing.

Adult Courses

Introduction to Astronomy

Taught by astronomer Greg Smye-Rumsby, this six-week course provides an excellent introduction to astronomy from historical, scientific and practical perspectives.

Buying a Telescope

This two-hour workshop is aimed at budding amateur astronomers and provides information and advice on buying a telescope. The advantages and disadvantages of different mounts and optical systems will also be examined.

Introduction to Digital Astrophotography

This course provides a solid grounding for those interested in digital astrophotography using a telescope. It’s a great course for amateur photographers looking to develop new skills, and amateur astronomers who are just starting out.

The course provides information and advice on equipment, planning shoots and processing images. Participants will require some familiarity with the use of telescopes.

Lunar, solar, planetary and deep space photography techniques are each covered for a broad range of amateur telescopes.

GCSE Astronomy

This comprehensive course provides an opportunity for those who are keen to acquire a rigorous scientific understanding of the universe.

Some students would like to learn more about the universe in the company of like-minded individuals without gaining a qualification. If this is you, then simply book the core course which consists of 30 Tuesday evening classes focusing on key astronomy topics.

Some of our students are very keen to obtain a formal qualification in GCSE astronomy, which requires a commitment to the delivery of coursework. If you are such a person you will need to book both the core course and the weekend exam course.

The exam course consists of 10 Saturday classes and includes study skills advice, revision sessions, past paper sessions, moderated coursework write-ups and a final examination. Exam registration fees are included.

Studying this course requires basic scientific and mathematical knowledge and computer literacy. A scientific calculator is also required. While this course is intended for adults, students aged 14 and upwards will be considered for enrolment on a case by case basis.

The course is taught by astronomy lecturer, Mike Keskeys.

Foundation Astrophysics

The Foundation Astrophysics programme provides an exciting exposition of modern astronomy designed for those who have a GCSE in astronomy or equivalent and want to know more. The course consists of six 10-week modules, which do not have to be studied in order.

Year One explores the Sun, solar system, exoplanets and the search for life in the Universe.

Year Two studies the life and death of stars, the Milky Way and other galaxies, and the ultimate questions posed by modern cosmology.

The course explores contemporary astronomy to first year university level. GCSE maths or equivalent is recommended. The course is delivered and tutored by Open University Associate Lecturer in Astronomy and Cosmology, Dr Roger O’Brien.

Module 1: Solar Physics

This module provides an introduction to solar physics, exploring our current understanding of the formation, evolution and behaviour of the Sun and the basic astrophysical principles upon which our understanding is based.

Family Events

Weekend Space Cadets

Come along to our programme of weekend family workshops and participate in a varied range of activities related to space science and space exploration; from the International Space Station to the latest discoveries about the Solar System and the wider universe.

Observatory Unlocked

Enjoy a range of public talks and activities delivered by our Observatory Explainers in the Meridian Courtyard, ranging from uncovering the hidden stories of the Royal Observatory Greenwich to solar observing and hands-on science demonstrations. Our Observatory Explainers will be happy to answer any questions you might have between presentations.

Please note: In the event of rain this activity will take place in the Great Equatorial Telescope or the Octagon Room. Please check with a member of staff.

Planetarium Shows

Peter Harrison Planetarium

The Peter Harrison Planetarium, featuring state-of-the-art technology is the only public planetarium in London and is the centrepiece of the Royal Observatory’s Astronomy Centre. Children must be accompanied by an adult.

An ‘Astro Ticket’ combining access to the historic Royal Observatory buildings and Meridian Courtyard with a planetarium show is available subject to availability. This offers savings for both individuals and families – contact the bookings team or see the website for further information.

Please note that the Planetarium is closed on the first Tuesday of every month for essential maintenance (except August and during Easter).

Asteroid: Mission Extreme

Join Alien and Ghostbusters' actress, Sigourney Weaver, on an epic journey to discover how asteroids present both a danger to life on Earth and an opportunity for future space exploration. The challenges of a mission to an asteroid are enormous, but could enable us to protect our planet and inhabit others. Explore what it would take for astronauts to reach an asteroid and how such an adventure could benefit humankind.

The Sky Tonight

This live show, presented by a Royal Observatory Astronomer, takes visitors on a tour of what can be seen in the night sky on the day of their visit and the months ahead. The journey takes in stars, constellations, planets and moons, and includes a fly-out to the edge of the visible Universe.

Meet the Neighbours

The Earth travels around the Sun with seven other planets, hundreds of moons and millions of asteroids. Meet our neighbours in space in this entertaining, interactive show where you can decide which planets to visit. Presented live by a Royal Observatory Astronomer.

Space Safari

Follow the adventures of Ted as he searches the Solar System for the great, big bear in the sky, visiting the Sun, the Moon and the Planets. In collaboration with local schools, music and songs have been developed by Trinity College of Music.

Solar System, Galaxy, Universe

This show explores the scale of the Solar System, Galaxy and Universe and how we measure it, investigating the structure of the universe from the smallest planets to the largest galactic superclusters.


Time and Space at the Royal Observatory Astronomy Galleries

Situated in the Astronomy Centre, these three visually striking galleries provide opportunities to explore astronomy and our place in the universe. With amazing hands-on exhibits helping to provide answers to big questions, the galleries discover how astronomers study space and explain recent developments in modern astronomy. Admission: Free

The Gagarin Terrace at the Royal Observatory Greenwich is home to the statue of the celebrated Russian cosmonaut and first man in space, Yuri Gagarin. The statue was originally sited at the Mall in London, please see website for details.

Time Galleries 

Explore the importance of time in all our lives through the interactive exhibits in galleries on ‘Time and Longitude’, ‘Time and Greenwich’, and ‘Time and Society’. Admission charges applies, please see website for details. Admission price includes entry to Flamsteed House, the Meridian Courtyard and the Meridian Building in addition to the Time Galleries.

General Information

The Royal Observatory Greenwich, National Maritime Museum, Queen’s House and Cutty Sark operate under the banner of Royal Museums Greenwich.

In preparation for the 400th anniversary in 2016 of its commissioning and design, the Queen’s House will be closed until later this year.

The Royal Observatory Greenwich, National Maritime Museum and Cutty Sark are open daily 10.00-17.00 (last admission 16.30). Cutty Sark’s opening times may be subject to change - please see website for details.

Admission to the Astronomy Centre at the Royal Observatory Greenwich is free. Admission to the Royal Observatory’s historic Flamsteed House, Time Galleries, Meridian Courtyard and Meridian Building is charged, please see website for details. An ‘Astro Ticket’ combining access to the historic Royal Observatory buildings and Meridian Courtyard with a Planetarium show is available offering savings for both individuals and families, please see website for details.

General admission to the National Maritime Museum is free. Admissions prices for Cutty Sark, as well as Museum special exhibitions can be found online. For advance bookings and further pricing information please call 020 8312 6608 or email

For updated information prior to visit please visit our web site or phone 020 8858 4422.


For further information or images please contact: Royal Museums Greenwich Press Office Tel: 020 8312 6789/6545/6790 | 07960 509802 | Email: | Twitter: @RMGPressOffice