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Visitor Center

From April 13 to December 29 the Leiden Observatory is housing the exhibition Above and Beyond: Making Sense of the Universe for 100 Years. Two days a week visitors can come to see what are the three biggest questions in astronomy and how astronomers have been trying to answer them for a hundred years.

Floor plan of the exhibition.

The Above and Beyond exhibition showcases some of the most significant and surprising astronomical breakthroughs that have shaped science, technology and culture over the last century. The exhibition has an interdisciplinary and international scope, outlining that scientific discovery is not a one-off endeavour but a continuous process that takes decades to fully grasp and comprehend. It is underpinned by three core questions that are just as penetrating today as they were a century ago: What is the size and structure of the Universe? Is there life beyond the Earth? What powers the stars, how do they begin to shine and what happens when they die?

The Above and Beyond exhibition provides a wonderful overview of the amazing discoveries in astronomy during the past century as well as the open questions about the Universe that we will address in the coming years. It also highlights the worldwide fascination with astronomy in everyday life

Ewine van Dishoeck, IAU President and Leiden Astronomy Professor

The exhibition is part of the  IAU’s 100th anniversary celebrations. To commemorate this milestone, the IAU is organising a year-long celebration to increase awareness of a century of astronomical discoveries and to support and improve the use of astronomy as a tool for education, development and diplomacy under the overarching theme Under One Sky.

"The journey through a hundred years of astronomy ends with a look at the future. Manned trips to Mars, the Breakthrough Starshot mission to send probes, driven by light, to the nearest star Alpha Centauri are a few examples. The message is clear: after a hundred years there is still plenty to discover in the universe." -NRC

"The exhibition provides a fascinating overview of the most important developments in astronomy over the past century." -Leidsch Dagblad

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Open hours, route and tickets

The visitor centre is open on Saturday and Sunday from 10:00 to 18:00.

Access to the building is granted by the Hortus Botanicus Leiden. The entrance to the Hortus Botanicus can be found at Rapenburg 73. There you can buy an admission ticket for the garden. Once in the garden, you can walk to the visitor centre of the Old Observatory. It is located at the end of the garden. The walking route takes about ten minutes.

Entrance to the visitor centre is free of charge, provided you have a valid admission ticket for the Hortus Botanicus Leiden.

  • You can take pictures in the visitor centre. It is not allowed to use flash or a tripod. If you want to photograph for commercial or journalistic purposes, please contact us.

  • We ask you to take other visitors into account and limit your phone use as much as possible.

  • Bringing food or drinks into the exhibition space is not allowed.

  • Smoking is not permitted in the Old Observatory.

  • Pets are not allowed in the visitor centre. An assistance dog is allowed to go inside.

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