Region: South East

Disabled Facilities: Yes

Category: Day Trip Destinations

Address: Sir Patrick Moore Building, Kingsham Farm, Kingsham Rd,, Chichester, West Sussex PO19 8RP

Contact: 01243 774400



The South Downs Planetarium and Science Centre was established to provide a facility where people of all ages could learn about science in a very visual and exciting way. Since opening in 2001, the Planetarium welcomes around 9,000 children of school age every year. In 2014/15 a total of 146 schools and colleges visited us. Through its colourful displays, demonstrations and presentations in the main auditorium, education room and foyer areas, young people of all ages are introduced to the awe and wonder of the universe around us and are inspired to want to learn more.

The Planetarium is an educational charity managed and operated by a large team of volunteers and enthusiasts, who have a passion for science and education and believe that learning should be fun! This enthusiasm is clearly infectious because many of our school groups and individual visitors come back to us time and time again.

What does a typical school trip or educational visit include?

The effective teaching of astronomy involves viewing the night sky, but to take students "star-gazing" is often impractical for many reasons. The Planetarium brings the night sky to the students. It makes clear many of the basic aspects of astronomy and space in an exciting and effective way. Our customers come to us for a stimulating and inspiring ‘outside the classroom experience’ learning about the wonders of space in a safe, friendly and well-organised environment

What size groups do they cater for?

The maximum group size that we can accommodate in the main auditorium is 96 students and accompanying adults, plus there are four additional spaces for wheelchairs. Some schools bring an entire year group at a time. Larger schools may require more than one visit on different days, or in two groups on the same day, while smaller schools often bring two year groups at a time.

With very small school groups (<20 students), we reserve the right to book in more than one group at the same time, but we will always ensure that the groups are of the same age and have the same learning objectives when sharing the venue.

This venue has the following accreditation:  We do have the LOtC Quality Badge.

What can they provide you with to support your school trip or educational visit?

We provide all visiting school groups with a teachers’ pack of useful educational resources and an evaluation form at the end of the visit. Students have the chance to take part in a fun quiz, based on the displays around the Planetarium, which will be tailored to the age of the visiting group.

Can you take photos, video or audio? Are there any copyright restrictions?

In the foyer areas and the education room, visitors may take pictures or make video and audio recordings as they wish. While in the main auditorium, however, it is essential that all attendees allow their eyes to become accustomed to the dark. For this reason we ask that all mobile phones and iPads are turned off for the duration of the main presentation and flash photography is not permitted, but once the lights come up at the end of the show, students and teachers may take any pictures or video recording that they wish.

How do you arrange a risk assessment?

We do not provide risk assessments for teachers, as every school’s requirements in this regard are slightly different, but teachers may book pre-arranged risk assessment visits at any mutually convenient time. Just call our General Manager, Andrew Copping, on 01243 774400 to make the necessary arrangements. The Planetarium has Public Liability Insurance with cover of up to £10 million.

What are the contact details for their education officer?

The venue’s Education Officer is Dr John Mason MBE

What does it cost?

As of May 2015, the cost of a typical Planetarium visit is £4.50 per child, teachers and adult helpers free of charge, but West Sussex LEA schools enjoy a discount of 50p per child on the normal admission price. Specialist presentations for GCSE or A level students may incur a slightly higher per capita charge.

Do you have first aid on site?

A number of the Planetarium volunteers are qualified first-aiders, but it is normal practice for every visiting school to have at least one qualified first-aider accompanying the visiting group.

What facilities do they have for school trips and educational visits?

The Planetarium has adequate toilets for large visiting school group as well as separate facilities for the disabled. Complimentary tea and coffee is provided for all accompanying teachers and adult helpers. The Planetarium also has a vending machine selling canned cold drinks.

There is also has a well-stocked sales kiosk selling a range of reasonably-priced educational items from 50p upwards. Groups using the sales kiosk typically bring about £3 of pocket money per child. We are also able to provide ‘goody bags’ for younger children from £1 per child by prior arrangement.

It is possible for children to eat snacks and packed lunches in the education room, again by prior arrangement. There is also a secure, gated hard-surface playground area outside which visiting school groups may use under supervision by their teachers and at their own risk.

Are there disabled facilities?

The Planetarium has excellent facilities and easy access for disabled patrons. If you are wanting to bring more than four wheelchairs in one group, please let us know in advance, so we can make the necessary arrangements.

What are your opening days and hours?

The Planetarium is open for visits by school and college groups during normal school hours on any days during term-time, but ADVANCE BOOKING IS ESSENTIAL. Please do not leave it until the last minute to book your visit as we may be unable to accommodate you on the dates you want.

How do you book?

The easiest way to book your Planetarium visit is to telephone us during office hours (9.30am to 4.30pm) on weekdays and ask to speak to our General Manager, Andrew Copping, who will also be able to answer any queries you may have.

The Planetarium's telephone number is 01243 774400. You can also send us an email enquiry to, but do please provide us with a contact telephone number, as it is usually easier to sort out the finer details over the telephone rather than by email exchange.


Planning the transport for your visit

We recognise that school visits must always be cost effective, especially in the current economic climate, and that they need careful planning to achieve this. It may be for example that it is cheaper to use minibuses or parents' cars rather than to hire a large coach. In addition, if your school is near to a bus route or railway station did you know that operators are willing and often able to make special arrangements to meet your needs? This might include reserving seats together in a railway carriage or running an additional vehicle on a scheduled bus route at a time agreed by prior arrangement. Such options may well be cheaper than coach hire. The Planetarium is only a short walk from Chichester rail and bus stations.

The following are the relevant contact details for the companies who will be pleased to discuss your specific requirements for group bookings on scheduled services. Please be sure to allow at least one week's notice ahead of your travel date.

Bus - Stagecoach: 08451210190

Train - Southern Rail: 08451272920

Can you provide testimonials?

“Impressive answering of all the children’s questions at their level. Friendly, communicative staff made the visit a great success. We will be back!”
Year 5/6, St. Columba Academy, Fareham, February 2015

“This was a wonderful visit, perfectly pitched with enthusiastic input and a passion for space. The kids loved it!”
Year 5, St. John’s Primary School, Horsham, March 2015

“Another fantastic day that was brilliantly arranged and seamlessly delivered. Many thanks.”
Year 4, The Mill Primary Academy, Crawley, March 2015

“A fantastic experience for my Year 5s. Pitched really well and we all learnt a lot. Thank you!”
St. Mary Magdalene Primary School, Brighton, March 2015

“The day was packed with facts and info. delivered brilliantly. The pace was fast but every eventuality was catered for. A great day out. Thank you.”
Year 5/6, Nyewood Junior School, Bognor Regis, April 2015

“A really fantastic visit that came well recommended by many teachers and previous visitors.”
Year 7, The Angmering School, May 2015

“An excellent school trip! Volunteers so friendly, helpful and knowledgeable. They had planned everything perfectly for us (including tea). Thank you and see you next year!”
Year 5, Seaside Primary School, Lancing, June 2015

“Helpful from initial enquiry to booking. Talks pitched at perfect level for our Year 5 children. Content very relevant to current curriculum. Staff welcoming, friendly and knowledgeable. Great to go on a trip where the stock in the shop is varied but priced very reasonably. All very efficient.”
Downsbrook Middle School, Worthing, June 2015

“As in our previous visits, everything was well-pitched and the whole experience was enjoyable and informative for both students and staff. Well done and thank you!”
Merlin Class, Fordwater School, Chichester, June 2015

Age of Children / Pupils: 5 – 7 years 8 – 10 years 11 – 13 years 14 – 16 years College University

Type of Visit: Cinemas / Film Planetarium Science & Technology SEN Themed Attractions

Curriculum Topics Covered: Design and Technology Engineering Geography History Mathematics Science STEM

Months Open: All Year Round January February March April May June July August September October November December

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