Life with kids in Sydney City
The handsome stone Sydney Observatory building with its distinctive copper telescope domes is set in gardens atop Observatory Hill. It overlooks parkland and glorious Sydney Harbour.
During the day view solar objects or by night the stars and planets. Afterwards, you can have a picnic in the Observatory grounds or visit one of the many restaurants and cafes close by in the historic Rocks.
Time Ball - Sydney Observatory’s original function was to calculate the correct time from the movement of the stars. Before the Observatory was built, there was no accurate time standard in Sydney. The time ball on the tower signalled the time to ships and to the post office in Martin Place. The time ball is raised to the top of its post and dropped at exactly 1pm every day. Originally, there was also a cannon blast fired to accompany the dropping of the time ball to provide a sound as well as a visual notification that it was 1pm.
Night telescope/3D theatre: A night telescope viewing session is the quintessential Sydney Observatory experience. Depending on sky conditions, you could use our historic 1874 large refracting lens telescope, the oldest working telescope in Australia (in the south dome), or our computer-controlled reflecting (mirrored) telescope (in the north dome). On a clear night, our knowledgeable astronomers will show you highlights of the southern night sky which, depending on the time of year, may include stars, double stars, star clusters, the Moon, a planet or nebula.
Session times:April to September 6.15pm to 8pm and 8.15pm to 10pm / October and November 8.15pm to 10pm / December and January 8.30pm to 10.15pm / February and March 8.15pm to 10pm
Day telescope/3D theatre: If a telescope viewing session in the daytime suits you better, you can look through our safe solar telescope, through which you can see the Sun, bright stars and maybe the Moon or Venus, depending on the time of day/year. Open 10am–5pm daily.Session times: Monday to Friday (school term) 2.30pm and 3.30pmWeekends and school holidays 11am, noon, 2.30pm and 3.30pmBookings are not required for day sessions.There is so many interesting things to see and do for all the family; space exhibits, 3D movies, the Planetarium, the Signal Tower, The Time Ball, Tours, special events, the historic building and grounds.
School Holiday Program: check out their website for ;school holiday workshops, events and tours.
Birthday Parties: Sydney Observatory offers day and night birthday experiences ideal for children turning 7 to 12. First, there is the excitement of a short 3D space theatre movie in which they may travel to the planet Mars or witness the explosive death of star to become a black hole. This is followed by telescope viewing with the guidance of one of our experienced astronomers, or, in wet weather, a combination of a planetarium session with some time to explore our exhibition. Early evening viewing times can include viewing of planets depending on the time of year.
WHERE TO EAT:
There is no restaurant or café at Sydney Observatory. However you are welcome to bring your lunch and enjoy it in the grounds.
SYDNEY EXPLORER BUS: Stop 23, Barangaroo, Hickson Rd
BUS: routes 431, 432, 433, 308, 339 and 343 to Millers Point and stop at the bottom of Watson Road in Argyle Street. Services on routes 431 and 432 which travel along George Street to Millers Point are the most frequent.
TRAIN: 10 minutes walk for Circular Quay Station and Wynard Station
FERRY: 10 minutes walk for Circular Quay Wharf
PARKING: There is metered parking on the streets around Sydney Observatory. Parking onsite is extremely limited, so is only available for visitors with disabilities.
For more places to visit and eat out check out our "Visiting The Rocks with Kids' Guide click here!