Cool spot: The Observatory Science Centre

Sussex is a brilliant place to live, but many of the amazing attractions are outdoor-based. Luckily we seem to exist in a weather microcosm most of the time, but when it’s less clement (please tell me the rain is going to stop soon) we’re not exactly spoilt for choice.  There is, however, the completely brilliant Observatory Science Centre in Herstmonceux. Like a mini version of the ever-wonderful Science Museum, it comprises four indoor galleries exploring Light & Colour, Force, Earth & Beyond and Time where you can interact with exhibits to create coloured shadows, take a ride in a chair powered by a vacuum cleaner, peer at objects through a video microscope and construct a clock mechanism. There are also two temporary exhibitions at any one time –  currently Shocking Electricity and Good Vibrations: the science of sound.

We visited on the afternoon of Alfie’s birthday and could have easily spent a day just playing around inside, but fortunately the sun was on our side, so we were able to try out the outdoor exhibits as well. The Water Planet is basically a huge water play park where you can construct dams and fountains and try out waterwheels, turbines and Archimedes’ screws, while the Discovery Park is a big science playground and the ideal place for hands (and feet) -on learning.

Alfie’s favourite thing by far was the Sound Dishes – one of you stands and whispers quietly at one dish, while someone else listens at the other dish, 30 metres away, and hears you loud and clear. All of that without even mentioning the telescopes in the green domes that make the site so distinctive or the myriad activities, events and workshops that occur throughout the year. The Observatory is that rare thing – a place that successfully makes education fun. Admission: adult: from £7.80, child, from £5.85. Open: Until 2 December 2012. 10am-6pm (Oct-Dec: 10am-5pm). Last admission 2 hours before closing.



  1. Thanks for the tip, I will be heading there next time we have a reasonable day!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>