Astronomy Festival 2018

31st August - 2nd September 2018

We had anoher fantastic festival in 2017 and the weather was certainly kinder than 2016. We even managed some viewing which is a great bonus!

Thank you to everyone who attended, your support is much appreciated. I would also like to thank all our speakers, Tom McGuinness for the Robots, the trade stands for their generosity with raffle prizes, Astronomy Societies, University of Sussex and UK Garrison who provided us with the highly entertaining Storm Troopers. We would also like to thank Steve Collingwood for the very entertaining AstroBingo and for all his help with raffle prizes etc. including speaking to Adam Hinds of David Hinds Ltd who we must thank for very generously donating the telescope for the Grand Prize draw which managed to raise a lot of money to help with the upkeep of our fabulous telescopes and domes.

We are looking forward to yet another successful festival this year and hope that you will be able to join us.

Bookings now being taken!

Catering Facilities
Alternative Accomodation at Herstmonceux Castle
Admission Prices and Times of Opening
Programme of Activities
Local Accomodation
What you managed to help fund in 2017!

DISASTER! In October 2017 one of the shutters on Dome D had a major problem. Now fixing it was not going to be easy without some serious specialised scaffolding! Of course specialised scaffolding is not cheap and takes twice as long to put up as ordinary scaffolding. Anyway the work had to be carried out and thankfully the scaffolding company managed to pull out all the stops and get the tower up quickly and efficiently. The essential work was carried out and then we took the opportunity to continue our maintenance programme so everything was greased and oiled, tweaked and adjusted. The Dome was up and ready again within about 3 weeks following the initial problem - just in time for the Uniformed Twilight week (which incidentally was mostly cloudy!!!). Have a look at the photo gallery to see the dome and scaffolding.

We want to take this opportunity to thank all of you who give so generously to our raffle - YOUR DONATIONS REALLY HELP. THANK YOU!

Camp under the backdrop of the observatory domes:

•There are a limited number of pitches so BOOK EARLY!
• Friday, Saturday and Sunday (31st August/1st/2nd September)
• £30 per pitch regardless of the number of nights. Allows up to 5 people per pitch.
• Size of pitch: 7.5m x 7.5m. Please note that we cannot accomodate tents, caravans or motorhomes that are larger than your pitch. There are plenty of camping sites in the local area that would be more suitable for your needs.
• If you are bringing a caravan or motorhome with toilet facilities, please note that there will be no provision for emptying toilet waste.
• Pitches will be allocated beforehand on a first come first served basis. Please select your pitch from the camping site map at the top of this page before you phone the Centre to book. Please note that there are different areas for families, adults only and general camping. Please select a pitch in the appropriate area for your group. While we endeavour to update the map on a regular basis we cannot guarantee that the pitch you choose will be available when you book. Please select an alternative as a back up.

Catering Facilities

The Centre's cafe will be open and serving a broad range of light meals, hot & cold drinks, snacks etc. The Centre's cafe will be open as follows:

Friday       2.30pm - 10.30pm
Saturday  10am - 5.30pm
Saturday  6.30pm - 10.30pm
Sunday     10am - 5.30pm

Other catering facilities will be available on the camping field
Alternative Accomodation at Herstmonceux Castle

If you do not fancy camping but wish to stay within walking distance of the festival then this year Herstmonceux Castle have some standard rooms available.

Herstmonceux Castle is located within a 600 acre estate and as an operating International Study Centre, offers 3-star rated campus accommodation. The rooms are located in Bader Hall about 500 metres walk from the castle where breakfast is served in the dining room.

Twin standards with shared washrooms along the corridor - £38.00

Single standard with shared washrooms along the corridor - £22.00

Prices include breakfast

For bookings please contact Bader Hall on 01323 834400 or
Admission 2018

Weekend Registration

If you are able to join us for the whole weekend then we are again offering a fantastic deal including discounted EARLY BIRD registration. 

MEMBERS: While your membership is not valid for the Friday or Saturday of the festival your membership is valid for Sunday 2nd September.

Adult Weekend Registration £40 £32
Child Weekend Registration £30 £24
Family of 4 Weekend Registration £110 £88
Family of 5 Weekend Registration £140 £112

With your weekend registration you will receive a souvenir, a ticket to visit the gardens and grounds of Herstmonceux Castle and a wrist band which permits entry into The Centre from 2.30 pm Friday afternoon until 6pm on Sunday (according to the session times listed below. Please note that the Centre closes between 6pm and 6.30pm on Saturday).

Please also note that the Centre is not open to the general public on Friday the 31st August and the gates will not open until 2.30pm. We are also closed on Monday 3rd September.

Weekend registration can be booked in advance (does NOT include camping). Wrist bands are not transferable and you are required to wear your wrist band at all times. The Centre reserves the right to refuse entry to anyone who is not wearing a wrist band.

Please just phone the Centre on 01323 832731 and you can make a booking using a credit or debit card. Thank you.

If you do not wish to prebook weekend registration then you are able to just turn up and pay the admission price per session (there are four sessions including the 'Open Evenings')

Adult: £10 per session
Child: £7.50 per session
Under 4: FREE

This price applies to EACH of the four sessions.

Opening Times (please note the Centre is not open to the general public or campers before 2.30pm):

Friday:        2.30pm - 11pm (also listed as an Open Evening)
Saturday:   10am - 6pm
Saturday:   6.30pm - 11pm (also listed as an Open Evening)
Sunday:     10am - 6pm

Herstmonceux Castle is well worth a visit during your stay. There is a separate admission price if you do not purchase weekend registration.

Entry to the gardens and grounds of the castle: £6 adult, £5 senior, £3 child. Tours of the castle are sometimes available at an additional cost.
Provisional Programme of Activities (subject to change)

Friday (2.30pm - 11pm)

• 4.30pm: FREE late afternoon screening of a Sci Fi Classic
7.30pm: FREE opening lecture 
• Viewing through the historic telescopes (weather permitting)
• Viewing through smaller telescopes with amateur astronomy societies (weather permitting)
QRZ Amateur Radio Group of Sussex

Saturday Day (10am - 6pm)

Four lectures throughout the day (£3 per person per lecture*)
• Talks about the telescopes in Dome E
• Planetarium shows
• Trade stands
• Astronomy Society stands
• Solar Observing
• Activities wih the University of Sussex TBC
• Family Activities
• Raffle
• Newton's Bar 

Saturday Evening (6.30pm - 11pm)

• 8pm Pub Quiz with Steve Collingwood (SCTelescopes)
• Viewing through the historic telescopes (weather permitting)
• Viewing through smaller telescopes with amateur astronomy societies (weather permitting)
QRZ Amateur Radio Group of Sussex

Sunday (10am - 6pm)

Three lectures throughout the day (£3 per person per lecture*)
• Talks about the telescopes in Dome E
• Planetarium shows
• Family Activities
• Trade stands
• Astronomy Society stands
• Newton's Bar
• Solar Observing

All this PLUS Spectacular Science exhibits both indoors and outdoors.


*SPECIAL OFFER LECTURE TICKETS: If you would like to pre-book ALL 7 lectures then we are offering 7 for the price of 6.

Confirmed speakers
South Downs National Park

The South Downs National Park will be promoting their International Dark Sky Reserve and answering questions on where to go, what to see and how you can do your bit for light pollution. We will have a large sky quality map of the downs with some kids activities including some selfie stand dressing up props and ‘dig the moon’ pit. We’ll also have some telescopes to look through if the weather is clear.
Local Accommodation

There are plenty of campsites in the local area which will provide electrical hook-up, showers and space for larger tents or vehicles. If you do not wish to camp but require local accomodation here are a few suggestions:

Cleavers Lyng B&B
Halfway House B&B
Big Sky Tipi luxury camping
Wartling Place B&B
Butlers Farm House B&B
Stone Acre Lodge B&B
Sandhurst B&B
Ivydene Guest Accomodation
Scolfes B&B
Lamb Inn, Wartling

Camping Site Map
Camping Rules and Regulations