Royal Observatory Greenwich

The Royal Observatory Greenwich is the centre of Britain's astronomical history. For nearly 400 years, it has been at the forefront of space study, and stands on the Prime Meridian - the centre of the planet.

The London Pass Visit The Royal Observatory Greenwich with The London Pass. Discover the stars, and the origins of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) Normally £16.00 - Included with London Pass

Discover the past, present and future wonders of astronomy at the Royal Observatory Greenwich - the centre of time. Take a fascinating journey through the historic home of British astronomy, Greenwich Mean Time and the Prime Meridian of the World.

Enjoy access to Royal Greenwich Observatory with The London Pass®

- Pay nothing at the door, simply show your pass.
- Learn about how time was standardised, how the first telescope was made, and how science has changed through the ages.
- The pass grants you a free audio guide, and access to any current exhibitions, tours, and lectures included with general admission.



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- Royal Observatory Greenwich history

- Royal Observatory Greenwich highlights

- Royal Observatory Greenwich facts

- Current exhibitions

- Know before you go

- Getting in

- Make the most of your London Pass

- How to get there



Royal Observatory Greenwich history

As Europeans took to the seas to explore the world and trade with other countries, astronomical information was needed to make journeys safer. That's why, in the 17th Century, King Charles II appointed a Royal Commission to look into investing in astronomy. Among those sitting on the Royal Commission was Sir Christopher Wren, a former professor of astronomy at Oxford, now best-known for his architectural work. In 1675, the Commission reported back to Charles II, recommending the foundation of an observatory, Britain’s first state-funded scientific institution. That very day, plans were set in motion. John Flamsteed was named ‘astronomical observator’, and a new era for astronomy, time and navigation had begun.

Wren suggested using the ruined Greenwich Castle as the site for the new observatory and designed the building. The site had the advantage of being on higher ground, and already had solid foundations. The first building, Flamsteed House, was built in less than a year, and cost just over £500. Flamsteed spent 40 years there, making over 50,000 observations of the moon and stars. Flamsteed and Edmond Halley, the first two astronomical observators, plotted every star visible in the north and southern hemispheres. Their work was key in helping to develop the first accurate clocks.

Up until the late 1800s, there were no measurements of time that were consistent both nationally and internationally. And in a world becoming more globalised every day from the construction of railways and international shipping lanes, an international time standard was vital.
That's why, in 1884, the International Meridian Conference was called, and Greenwich successfully became the Prime Meridian of the World.

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Royal Observatory Greenwich highlights

  • Stand astride the world-famous Meridian Line, with one foot in the east and the other in the west.

  • Learn about how great scientists first mapped the seas and the stars and stand astride two hemispheres on the Prime Meridian Line.

  • See pioneering inventions and the UK’s largest refracting telescope. Touch a 4.5 billion-year-old asteroid.

  • Enjoy breath-taking views across the whole of London.

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Royal Observatory Greenwich facts

  • A bright red Time Ball sits on top of Flamsteed House. The ball rises to the top of its mast each day, beginning its ascent at 12.55pm, before dropping at exactly 1pm. Considered one of the earliest public time signaling devices in the world, it first dropped in 1833.

  • The Royal Observatory Greenwich has a large collection of interesting clocks. Particular highlights include the Russian F.M. Fedchenko pendulum clock, which is said to be one of the most accurate timepieces on the planet. And the Shepherd Gate Clock mounted on the outer wall of the Observatory, which has an unusual 24-hour display.
  • The Prime Meridian goes right down the centre of the planet, at least as far as time is concerned. That means you can literally stand in the middle of the Earth.

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Current Exhibitions

Moons Beyond Counting
Monday - Friday: 14:45
Saturday, Sunday & Bank Holidays: 12:30 & 14:45

Discover the moons of the Solar System in this brand new show narrated by our Royal Observatory astronomers. From the Earth’s closest neighbour in space, our Moon, to the moons of the distant gas giants, this show explores our Solar System’s natural satellites. Discover more about the appearance and features of our own moon, as well as a selection of the many different kinds of moons out there that orbit the other planets.

The Sky Tonight Live
Monday - Friday: 16:15
Saturday, Sunday & Bank Holidays: 11:45, 14:00 & 16:15

Explore the night sky in this classic guide, presented in real-time by Royal Observatory astronomer. A classic guide to the sky tonight presented in real-time by an astronomer using our digital planetarium.
Find out what the night sky has to offer in the month ahead, in this traditional planetarium show.

Meet the Neighbours
Monday - Friday: 15:30
Saturday, Sunday & Bank Holidays: 13:15 & 15:30

Tour the Solar System and beyond, and meet our next-door neighbours in space. Vote with the audience on which planets to explore in-depth, before moving beyond to explore nearby stars and galaxies far away in the depths of space. This interactive show is packed full of spectacular sights and fun facts.

Ted's Space Adventure (special show for children under 7)
Saturday, Sunday & Bank Holidays: 11:00

Follow Ted the bear on an adventure around the Solar System, investigating different places and how they affect us. Including interactivity, music and rhyme, the show is a must for pre-school children. Please note that all children must be accompanied by an adult.

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Know before you go

- Some exhibits/shows require the purchase of tickets. Please check the Royal Observatory Greenwich website for pricing and bookings.

- A gift shop is on-site.

- Cloakrooms are available. Visitors can leave coats and bags while they peruse the exhibits.

- Toilets and baby-changing facilities are on site.

- The Royal Observatory Greenwich is fully accessible, including toilets and the cafe. Guide dogs, hearing dogs, and assistance dogs are welcome too.

- Language guides are available for non-English speakers.

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Getting in

Use the designated Priority Lane and present your Pass at the entrance.

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Make the most of your London Pass

While you're there, why not check out the Cutty Sark and the National Maritime Museum? Both are included with The London Pass®.

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How to get there

Train
- Cutty Sark - DLR
- Greenwich rail station and Maze Hill rail station
- Greenwich Pier

Bus
- 129, 177, 180, 188, 199 and 386

Visit the Royal Observatory Greenwich website for more travel information.

 

For more things to do in London, check out The London Pass® blog.


- Opening times: 10 am - 5 pm.

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Getting to Royal Observatory Greenwich

Getting to Royal Observatory Greenwich

  • Royal Observatory Greenwich Blackheath Ave, London SE10 8XJ
  • Closest Underground Station Cutty Sark DLR
  • Closest Bus Stop Stop S: Route 53

Opening Times

Monday 10.00 - 17.00
Tuesday 10.00 - 17.00
Wednesday 10.00 - 17.00
Thursday 10.00 - 17.00
Friday 10.00 - 17.00
Saturday 10.00 - 17.00
Sunday 10.00 - 17.00
Last Admission: 16.30
21 June - 31 August
Monday 10.00 - 18.00
Tuesday 10.00 - 18.00
Wednesday 10.00 - 18.00
Thursday 10.00 - 18.00
Friday 10.00 - 18.00
Saturday 09.00 - 18.00
Sunday 09.00 - 18.00

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