The Royal Observatory Edinburgh Visitor Centre

Opened in 1894, the Royal Observatory Edinburgh is a unique place which combines historic buildings and collections with cutting-edge science and technology. The Royal Observatory Edinburgh Visitor Centre runs a variety of programmes and events on site at the Royal Observatory and throughout Scotland to provide access to the Observatory and share its work with members of the public, community groups, and schools.

Individuals and groups of up to 10 people can book in for a range of public events, including Public Astronomy Evenings, our Astronomy Talk series. You can also visit during our annual Doors Open Days Weekend in September. Uniformed groups of 10-30 people can book in for a private educational visit to help achieve space themed badges.

We also provide support for primary schools and for secondary schools, including on-site visits, visits to your school, classroom resources and professional development programmes. All of these use space as an inspiring context for teaching and learning, and link to the Curriculum for Excellence.

Please note: the Royal Observatory is a busy workplace, and we are unable to accommodate drop-in visits of any kind. Pre-booking is essential.

Science, Technology, People

2019 marked 50 years since the Apollo 11 Moon landing. Scientists and engineers from STFC’s UK Astronomy Technology Centre (UK ATC) at the Royal Observatory Edinburgh remember the Apollo 11 Moon landing, and share their memories of this iconic moment, and how it inspired them to choose careers in astronomy and engineering.

Alistair Glasse, Instrument Scientist at UK ATC not only remembers the Moon landing, he's also worked in the same room as Mission Control for Apollo 11 at NASA’s Johnson Space Center. He was there through his work on the MIRI instrument for NASA’s new space mission – the James Webb Space Telescope – what will be the world’s largest telescope in space when it is launched in the early 2020s.

For Steven Beard, a software Engineer at UK ATC, the Moon landing not only inspired a lifelong career but also some early engineering with Meccano, cardboard, tin foil and Sellotape. See his model built in 1969! He now works on MOONS – a next generation instrument for the Very Large Telescope on a mountain top in Northern Chile.

MOONS Instrument Information

David Lunney, Project Manager at UK ATC works with teams of engineers on the design of world class instruments for astronomy research. In particular NIX - a state-of-the-art cryogenic camera system - which is a major component of new next generation instrument ERIS (link to NIX timelapse video). He shares his memories of the Apollo 11 Moon landing and how it inspired his passion for engineering.

ERIS home page

John Davies, an astronomer at UK ATC has worked on, and got science from, astronomical instruments for many of the world's most advanced telescopes. Here he shares his memories of the Apollo 11 Moon landing, and how it inspired his career in astronomy.