- Discover the history of the night sky and the individual meaning of the constellations.
- Learn about the vast expanse of the universe at one of the daily planetarium talks.
- Check out the rest of the Southend Central Museum, where you can learn about ancient history and more.
- Head to the seaside where you can enjoy some of Southend-on-Sea's many attractions.
The world of outer space is a mystery to many of us, and is particularly fascinating to kids. The big bang, stars, galaxies and infinite size of the universe is enough to blow anyone's mind, and the Southend Planetarium brings all the magic of the night sky right to you. Situated within the Southend Central Museum in the resort town of Southend-on-Sea, the Planetarium is definitely worth taking a visit to when you visit the area.
This small planetarium is much more than meets the eye, and is the perfect place to spend an hour or two with children. Here, you'll be able to take a tour of the night sky, and discover the wonders of the natural universe. From the stories of Greek mythology and how these characters, legends and symbols ended up ruling the stars, to the scientific side of human space exploration, Southend Planetarium offers a friendly and fascinating family experience that is sure to impress mini astronauts and scientists. Since the room the planetarium is situated in isn't big enough to fit lots of people, you'll get an intimate and personal experience on your visit. The talks last around 40 minutes, and you will be taken on a journey around the universe, and how we can see everything we can from Earth. There are also regular performance on the weekends, which are perfect if your family enjoys their day at the planetarium.
As well as exploring everything Southend Planetarium has to offer, the Southend Central Museum is also a wonderful place to explore. This museum, which is over a century old, houses permanent and temporary exhibitions, with artefacts on display from throughout history. The most significant exhibit is the Princely Burial, that displays findings from a 2003 excavation in Southend by Museum of London Archaeology, that found a Roman and Anglo-Saxon burial site. Known as the Prittlewell chamber grave, this excavated pit held a large amount of treasure, including flasks, coins and more that date back to the 6th century. The site is significant as it contains objects that help us to understand the spread of Christianity during this time, as it is the oldest known Christian Anglo Saxon grave in the UK. There are also exhibitions in the museum that show what life was like for people all throughout history, even dating back to the Ice Age. With lots of artefacts to see and interactive exhibits, a visit to the museum is the ideal thing to do after you've enjoyed your experience at the planetarium.
As well as the Central Museum and planetarium, the town of Southend-on-Sea is home to a number of museums, historical sites and attractions that will help you fill the rest of your day with family fun. Beecroft Art Gallery next door on Victoria Avenue is another venue run by Southend Museums that is perfect for culture vultures. With a selection of traditional and contemporary art on display, as well as temporary as well as permanent fashion and art exhibits, there is something to suit every taste. Prittlewell Priory in Priory Park is a medieval relic that will take you back through hundreds of years of Southend history, and Southchurch Hall is another Grade I Listed medieval spot with traditional timbering and a fascinating past. Plus, don't forget the fairground, Adventure Island, and Southend Pier, located down on the Western Esplanade by the beach.
If you'd like something to eat on your visit, head into the town of Southend-on-Sea. As well as parks that are perfect for picnics, you'll also be able to find lots of places to grab a bite. The Victoria Shopping Centre is a great spot for shopping and has a variety of eateries to pick from. Just a 15-minute walk from Victoria Avenue, Southend, where the planetarium is located, you'll find the famous Southend on Sea promenade. Lovely for a walk at any time of year, you can also find some great seafood, as well as seaside attractions and ice cream stands.
If you had a great time enjoying the planetarium at Southend-on-Sea and are looking for more great family activities in Essex that will take you away from the hustle and bustle of London, why not head to Epping Forest for a beautiful walk in nature? Or, for some more seaside fun head to Frinton Beach in Tendring, a lovely picnic and sunbathing spot.
What to know before you go
- Southend Planetarium opening times are from 10am - 5pm from Tuesday - Saturday.
- Unfortunately the planetarium is not accessible for wheelchairs or buggies as there is no lift, but the ground floor of the museum is accessible.
- There are accessible toilets located next door at the Beecroft Art Gallery.
- There is no cafe at the museum, but there is a gift shop.
- The planetarium is located on the first floor of the Southend Central Museum building. To get there, head to Victoria Avenue, Southend, which is accessible by car via the A13 and the A127.
- Pay-and-display par parking is available at the Beecroft Art Gallery car park next door. There are limited Blue Badge parking spaces behind the museum building.
- The nearest train station is Southend Victoria, but you can also travel to Southend Central which is a 10-minute walk away. From both of these stations you can travel to central London.
- If travelling by bus, the station is just outside the Southend Victoria train station.