Edinburgh Playfair Observatory

Calton Hill, Edinburgh, EH7 5AA

Location description

Inspired by a Greek temple of the Four Winds, the Playfair Observatory, also known as the Edinburgh City Observatory was designed by William Henry Playfair in 1818. The first Astronomer Royal to work at the facility was Professor Thomas Henderson in 1834, an astronomer who had discovered how to measure the distance to nearby stars using the “parallax” method. The venue was redeveloped in 2019 and is now an arts and exhibition space — unfortunately as things stand the observatory is not currently open to the public however some stargazing events are planned to be held here in collaboration with The Astronomical Society of Edinburgh.

Location event organiser

The Astronomical Society of Edinburgh organises stargazing events at this location.


Location has an observatory that is accessible to the public by prior arrangement or during public events.

Location light pollution

This location is estimated to have light pollution levels similar to a urban setting based on satellite data from CPRE.

Dark site
The above demonstrates the estimated effect of light pollution - graphics created using Stellarium.

Stargazing events at this location

There are no known forthcoming events at this location. Previously there have been 1 event which was on 11th November 2019 organised by The Astronomical Society of Edinburgh.


When to visit

The best time to visit Edinburgh Playfair Observatory can be found on this dark skies calendar.

Add to favourites

To add this location to your favourites and receive optional stargazing event notifications simply login or register.

Telescopes for beginners

Thinking of purchasing a telescope!? See our guide as to which telescopes we recommend for beginners.

Register to receive stargazing event notifications