Open House Festival

Burlington House: Royal Astronomical Society

institution/profession, scientific, library

Robert Richardson Banks and Charles Barry, 1874

Piccadilly, W1J 0BQ

The Royal Astronomical Society (RAS) moved into this building 150 years ago in 1874. Part of the extension to Burlington House to provide accommodation for learned societies, the building was refurbished in 2007. The RAS is the oldest astronomical society in the world and has been encouraging and promoting the study of astronomy and geophysics since 1820.

Getting there


Piccadilly Circus, Green Park


9, 14, 19, 38, 6



Accessibility notes

At the main entrance, there are five steps from the pavement to the doorway. A portable wheelchair ramp is available, and a lift indoors.

What you can expect

Guided tour of ground floor, first floor and second floor. There is a lift, and limited seating in the library.


Open House 2024 at the Royal Astronomical Society

We are delighted to welcome visitors to the Royal Astronomical Society during the Open House festival, during which we will be celebrating 150 years in New Burlington House. We will be open all day on Saturday 21 September for guided tours and pre-booked children's activities.

Children's science activities

This year children's science activities will be taking place in our Lecture Theatre on Saturday 21 September. Sessions will be running at 10:15, 11:15, 14:15 and 15:15.

These sessions need to be pre-booked. Places are limited to 20 children per session, and children must be accompanied by an adult (up to two adults per child).

Learn about comets, stars, constellations, and our Founders the Herschels themselves! There may also be an encounter with astronomer Caroline Herschel!


See the architectural features of the building, and learn about the history of astronomy and of the Society through guided tours including a special display of books, manuscripts and artefacts in our double-height, galleried library. Actors from Spectrum Drama will bring to life some of the most fascinating discoveries in the history of science.

The Royal Astronomical Society at Burlington House

The Royal Astronomical Society moved into Burlington House 150 years ago in 1874. It was founded in 1820. Since its inception it has been promoting the understanding of astronomy and geophysics by organising meetings, publishing research, maintaining a specialist library and archive among other activities. The Society originally occupied rooms in Lincoln’s Inn, and later, Somerset House. The Society’s apartments in Burlington House were specially built by the government for the learned societies when they were required to vacate Somerset House. The RAS now shares the courtyard of Burlington House with the premises of five other learned societies: the Linnean Society of London, the Society of Antiquaries, the Royal Society of Chemistry and the Geological Society of London, together with the Royal Academy of Arts. The insignia of the Society are traced into the fabric of the building, from the monograms in the entrance hall and lobby to the etchings on the stained glass 'cosmic spiral' window on the first floor landing. This stunning window was designed and produced by Sally Scott, in association with Nero Designs, when the building was refurbished by Peregrine Bryant Associates in 2007.

Online presence


Back to top of page