Open Evenings

Open evenings are usually held on Saturday evenings starting at 6.30pm and finishing at 11pm in the AUTUMN, WINTER AND EARLY SPRING. After the clocks spring forward an hour, Open Evenings in LATE SPRING AND SUMMER are usually 8pm - 12.30am. See the list below


Please note that if there are no visitors in The Centre by 8pm (or 9.30pm in late spring/early summer) then the evening is cancelled.
Are you interested in the night sky?  Have you ever wondered what it would be like to look at the stars, planets and the moon through some of the country's largest telescopes?  Well here is your opportunity!  Come and join us on our open evenings and take a glimpse of what it would have been like to use these amazing instruments. Open evenings will be held on selected Saturdays during winter, spring and autumn (unless otherwise stated). Scroll down below the photographs and click on the date in the table for further details of the evening and what you are likely to see through the telescopes.

Viewing is subject to weather conditions. If you are specifically coming just to look through the telescopes then please check the local weather before embarking on a long journey. We still open for the evening and plan a cloudy night contingency talk which is usually a planetarium show in our large white geodesic tent - if there are enough people in the Centre.

Please note that some of the telescopes used on open evenings are not available to the public during the day and are only accessible by narrow steep stairs - if you have mobility issues please contact the centre for further details if required. See Access below. The Centre is also unsuitable for prams and pushchairs during Open Evenings.

WARNING! Our site is very dark and we keep lighting to a minimum to preserve night vision and make sure you have the best possible experience in terms of viewing the night sky. This inevitably means that there are areas that are dimly lit or very dark. With high walkways, ramps and steps throughout the Centre you need to take great care when moving around. PLEASE BRING A TORCH and wear sensible footwear. However, we strongly encourage people not to use white light torches especially in the domes as this destroys night vision, therefore we would ask you to use red light torches if you have one (red light torches can be purchased in our shop). We also recommend warm clothing.

PLEASE NOTE: DO NOT bring laser pointers into The Centre. Our staff and volunteers do use laser pointers as teaching aids but they adhere to strict rules and regulations about their use within The Centre and therefore they are controlled. Laser pointers can be dangerous especially if misused.


While the Centre makes every effort to accomodate wheel chair users and others with mobility issues, by virtue of the nature of the building (grade II* listed), the telescopes are accessed by steep narrow stairs. If you require further information please do not hesitate to get in touch. Please also note that the telescope domes are not suitable for prams/push chairs as there is limited space available. Therefore Open Evenings are not recommended for very young children requiring prams/push chairs.
Normal admission price applies unless otherwise stated

Please note that Open Evenings are run as separate events to a daytime visit and therefore your daytime receipt is NOT valid for the evening and you are unable to stay in The Centre. However, if you have visited during the day when there is an Open Evening and you would like to return for the evening session then we are offering a special discounted rate of just £5 per person (only valid on production of a receipt purchased on the same day).

Times: 6.30pm - 11pm (unless otherwise stated)


Open Evenings 2018

3rd February  Regular Open Evening
17th  February  Open Evening to help celebrate the DARK SKIES FESTIVAL 
3rd March   Regular Open Evening
17th March   Regular Open Evening
31st March   Blue Moon Open Evening: 8pm - 12.30am ADULTS ONLY
5th May   ETA AQUARIDS METEOR SHOWER: 8pm - 12.30am
18th May   MUSEUMS AT NIGHT: Friday 8pm - 12.30am
27th July  MARS AT OPPOSITION: Friday 8pm - 12.30am
10th August   PERSEIDS METEOR SHOWER: Friday 8pm -  12.30am
31st August
& 2nd September
 ASTRONOMY FESTIVAL: Friday and Saturday. Please note there is a different admission charge
22nd September  Regular Open Evening
16th November  LEONIDS METEOR SHOWER: Friday

* Please note that the admission price for the Astronomy Festival is different from other open evenings. See Astronomy Festival admission for further details.

Because viewing is subject to weather conditions please phone the centre in advance to check the forecast if necessary. If the weather does not permit viewing and there are no visitors in the centre before 8pm, open evenings will be cancelled.

On cloudy evenings there is usually a planetarium style presentation which takes place after about 7.30pm depending on the number of people in the Centre at the time. Please note that the cloudy night contingency presenation will only take place if the weather is unsuitable for viewing.


The South Downs National Park was designated as an International Dark Sky Reserve in 2016. To celebrate they are holding a Dark Skies Festival over two weeks in February with star parties, talks, observations and other family activities. These activities are taking place all over the South Downs in various locations and we are going to be joining in their celebrations by holding our own Open Evening and an extended opening day during the fortnight. For more information visit their website. 

The extended opening day will be on Friday 16th February when The Centre will be open from 10am until 8pm for a 'Family Dark Skies Day' to help celebrate the South Downs Dark Skies Festival. 

You may also be interested in the following themed evening events in 2018


26th May  Special Event: 'Adult Lates' Summer Triangle 1
2nd June  Special Event: 'Science of Beer'
30th June  Special Event: 'Adult Lates' Summer Triangle 2
14th July  Special Event: 'Soundscape'
28th July  Special Event: 'Adult Lates' Summer Triangle 3
11th August  Special Event: 'Perseids Shooting Stars'
17th November    Special Event: 'Comets and Curry' 
1st December  Special Event: 'Christmas Songs by Starlight'                                                  
Red Light Torches
Our gift shop sells red light torches which are suitable for astronomy. Please contact us for the latest availability.
Our site is very dark and we keep lighting to a minimum to preserve night vision and make sure you have the best possible experience in terms of viewing the night sky. There are high walkways, ramps and steps throughout the Centre PLEASE BRING A TORCH (preferably red light) or purchase one in reception. Please also dress warmly and wear sensible footwear.