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The Stargazer

Discover the stars at The Stargazer

Renowned astronomer Sir Edmund Halley established his reputation studying stars. His star catalogue, published in 1678, was the world’s first such work and determined hundreds of southern stars’ locations. Halley was later appointed Astronomer Royal at Greenwich Observatory. He is commemorated by Edmund Halley Way (in front of The O2), leading to the River Thames’ cable car crossing – with its views of the London skyline.

The Night Sky in Winter

The text reads: The December sky sees the appearance of both Orion and the Gemini twins. 

Orion, The Great Hunter, returns to the sky, with its [BLURRY] stars and three very bright stars in the centre, forming his belt. The constellation ‘Orion’ is one of the easiest to see. It is not only very bright, but actually looks rather like a hunter.

Gemini really does resemble twins holding hands. The twins are known as Castor and Pollux, who were two mythological Greek heroes and never really twins. Together, they are made up of [BLURRY] stars, with the two very bright stars called Castor and Pollux forming the twins’ heads.

Both Orion and Gemini will remain in the sky until the beginning of spring.

The Night Sky in Spring

From Industrial to Recreational

The text reads: By the end of the 19th century, most of the open marshland on Greenwich Peninsula had been developed – the landscape was dominated by the vast industrial complexes.

The largest of these was the East Greenwich Gas Works, built in the 1880s by the South Metropolitan Gas Company under the direction of George Livesey. The site was dominated by two giant gas holders – East Greenwich No.1 and East Greenwich No.2. The works had largely been demolished by the 1980s. However, No.1 holder continued to dominate the skyline until 2020.

A flourishing community of industrial workers grew up on the Peninsula in the 19th century, with its own church (St Andrew in the Marsh), a school (Dreadnought School), shops, public houses and a transport system which was enhanced by the opening of the Blackwall Tunnel in 1897.

As the manufacturing industries declined after World War II, the number of residents dwindled until virtually all of the housing became empty and was demolished.

However, having once lost its resident population, the building of the Millennium Dome and North Greenwich underground station on the site of the gasworks has led to major new developments like the Millennium Village, a new school, shopping areas and further proposed housing adjacent to the dome.

In addition, habitats are being created which are bringing back the sort of wildlife which was once common on the marshes. Greenwich Ecology Park is an oasis in the heart of the redeveloped peninsula. It reflects the original nature of the area, with its freshwater lakes, marsh, woodland, flower meadow and ‘an array of wildlife’. Parts of the park are dominated by willows, ‘osier, white, grey and purple’. The shoots of the purple willow are used in basket-making, which was a craft carried out on the peninsula, using reeds and willow grown in the marshes.

Images above from the top left: East Greenwich Gas Works opening the retort doors; The last gas holder before demolition; Tunnel Avenue and the gas holders; Greenwich Ecology Park; General view of the East Greenwich Works; A view from the Ecology Park showing two types of modern development

 Text reads: “It is not in the stars to hold our destiny, but in ourselves”  Shakespeare

Text reads: “For my part, I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of the stars makes me dream” Vincent van Gogh

Flamsteed’s Celestial Atlas

Text reads: The Atlas Coelestis, or Celestial Atlas, based on observations made from Greenwich by the First Astronomer Royal, John Flamsteed, with drawings made by James Thornhill, was the first comprehensive telescopic star catalogue.

Images clockwise from the top: Perseus and Andromeda; Aries, the Ram; Orion, the Hunter, and the Hare (or Rabbit); Gemini, the Twins; Scorpio, the Scorpion, and Libra, the Scales

“Keep your eyes on the stars, and your feet on the ground” Theodore Roosevelt

The Greenwich Peninsula at night

Stars at the O2 Arena

Images clockwise from top left: Bon Jovi; Prince; Wizkid; The Rolling Stones; Beyoncé

The Night Sky in Summer, Cassiopeia by Rachel Park

the text reads: Rachel is an artist and printmaker, and also a published author and illustrator. Her children’s books have been published in 13 countries and translated into several languages.

Her Stargazer artwork makes use of relief printing, monotype, drawing, painting and collage.

Rachel lives and works in southeast London, near to where she was born, and holds an annual Open Studio event in Lee. 

The brightest of the new constellations to appear in the night sky in early summer is Cassiopeia, or The Seated Queen, made up of only five main stars, forming a lop-sided W. Cassiopeia is located below The Plough, to the right.

Queen Cassiopeia is the mother of Andromeda, the princess ordered to be sacrificed to the Kraken by Thetis because Queen Cassiopeia dared to compare her own beauty to that of the sea goddess. Andromeda was saved by Perseus.

Stargazing Stars

Text reads:

Throughout history, civilizations have developed different methods to read, understand and map the sky’s stars. Babylonians, Egyptians, Indians and the Chinese all developed their own systems.

The work done on stars by Greek astronomers provided the earliest documents leading to the modern science of astronomy. Their work was continued by Islamic astronomers and then by the modern European astronomers.

The Royal Observatory, Greenwich, played a major role in the history of astronomy, with special reference to how it related to navigation. The observatory was commissioned in 1675 by King Charles II. The king also created the position of Astronomer Royal, as the director of the observatory to “apply himself … to the rectifying of the tables of the motions of the heavens, and the places of the fixed stars, so as to find out the so much desired longitude of places for the perfecting of the art of navigation”.

The Prime Meridian of longitude passes through the Observatory, and it gave its name to Greenwich Mean Time, the precursor to today’s Coordinated Universal Time (UTC).


The Stargazer name is also appropriate for a pub forming part of the O2 Arena, one of the world’s most popular music and entertainment venues, where audiences gather to watch their favourite stars perform.

The O2 opened in the summer of 2007. Bon Jovi was the first band to perform here, beginning its 12 shows with a high-level performance up on the roof. Since then, a host of world-famous stars has taken centre stage at the O2 Arena. Several sold out in less than 15 minutes. The select group includes The Rolling Stones, Beyoncé and, most recently, in 2021, Wizkid sold out in just 12 minutes.

The legendary singer-songwriter and musician Prince also performed at the O2 Arena in 2007. His 21 sell-out nights were the longest-ever ‘residency’ at The O2, helping to establish it as one of the world’s ‘most iconic venues’.

From Geocentric (earth centred) to Heliocentric (sun centred)

Text reads: Ptolemy (born c. AD 45; died c. AD 165 at Alexandria, Egypt) established the geocentric theory of the solar system that prevailed for 1400 years. His work enabled accurate predictions of planetary positions and solar and lunar eclipses.

Nicolaus Copernicus (19 February 1473–24 May 1543) was a Polish astronomer known as the father of modern astronomy. He proposed the heliocentric theory of the solar system in which the Earth and other planets revolve around the sun.

Tycho Brahe (14 December 1546–24 October 1601) was a Danish astronomer whose astronomical observations were an essential contribution to the scientific revolution. He was the last major astronomer before the invention of the telescope.

Galileo di Vincenzo Bonsaluti de’ Galilei (15 February 1564–8 January 1642), commonly referred to as Galileo, has been called the ‘father’ of observational astronomy, as well as modern physics, the scientific method and modern science in general.

Johannes Kepler (27 December 1571–15 November 1630) was a German astronomer. He discovered that the Earth and planets travel about the sun in elliptical orbits. His works provided a basis for Newton’s theory of gravitation.

From Gravity to the Big Bang

Text reads: Isaac Newton (25 December 1642–20 March 1726/27) solved the mysteries of light and optics, formulated the three laws of motion (the most fundamental natural laws of classic mechanics) and formulated the law of universal gravitation to explain why planets move in orbits and objects fall to the Earth.

John Flamsteed (19 August 1646–31 December 1719) was the first Astronomer Royal. He prepared a 3,000-star catalogue, Catalogus Britannicus, and a star atlas called Atlas Coelestis. He laid the foundation stone for the Royal Greenwich Observatory.

Edmond Halley (8 November 1656–25 January 1742) was the second Astronomer Royal. He helped to fund the publication of Isaac Newton’s Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica (1687). He used Newton’s laws of motion to predict the return, in 1758, of the comet named after him. In 1718, he discovered the proper motion of the ‘fixed’ stars.

Edwin Powell Hubble (20 November 1889–28 September 1953) was an American astronomer. Hubble proved that many objects previously classified as ‘nebulae’ were actually galaxies beyond the Milky Way.

Hubble provided evidence that the recessional velocity of a galaxy increases with its distance from the Earth, a property now known as Hubble’s law. The light from many of these galaxies was strongly red-shifted, which implies that the universe is expanding. This was the observation that led to the Big Bang theory for the origin of the universe. The Hubble Space Telescope was named in his honour.

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text reads:

Émilie du Châtelet (17 December 1706–September 1749) was a French natural philosopher and mathematician. She is most famous for her translation of, and commentary on, Isaac Newton’s 1687 book Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica, containing the basic laws of physics. Her work, published posthumously in 1756, is still considered the standard French translation.

Caroline Lucretia Herschel (16 March 1750–9 January 1848) was a German-born British astronomer, who discovered several comets. She was the younger sister astronamer William Herschel.

She was the first woman to receive a salary as a scientist and the first woman in England to hold a government position. She was also the first woman to publish scientific findings the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society; to be awarded a gold medal of the Royal Astronomy Society (1828) and to be named an Honorary Member of the Royal Astronomical Society 

Mary Somerville (26 December 1780–29 November 1872) studied mathematics and astronomy. In 1835, she was elected as the first female Honorary Member of the Royal Astronomical Society, along with Caroline Herschel.

In 1834, she became the first person to be described in print as a ‘scientist’. Somerville College, at Oxford University, is named after her.

Andrea Mia Ghez (born 16 June 1965) is an American astrophysicist whose research focuses on the centre of the Milky Way galaxy.

In 2020, she became the fourth woman to be awarded the Nobel Prize in physics, for her part in the discovery of a supermassive compact object, now generally recognized to be a black hole, in the Milky Way’s galactic centre.

Sara Seager (born 21 July 1971) is a Canadian American astronomer and planetary scientist. She is known for her work on extrasolar planets and their atmospheres. She is the author of two textbooks on these topics.

Seagar was awarded a MacArthur fellowship in 2013 for her work on detecting chemical signatures on exoplanet atmospheres and developing low-cost space observatories to observe planetary transits.

Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin (10 May 1900–7 December 1979) was a British-born American astronomer and astrophysicist who proposed, in her 1925 doctoral thesis, that the stars were composed primarily of hydrogen and helium. Her ground-breaking conclusion was initially rejected because it contradicted the scientific wisdom of the time, which held that there were no scientific elemental differences between the sun and Earth. Independent observations eventually proved her correct. Her work on the nature of variable stars was foundational to modern astrophysics.

Henrietta Swan Leavitt (4 July 1868–12 December 1921) was an American astronomer. She discovered the relation between luminosity and the period of Cepheid variables which enabled astronomers to measure the distance to far-away galaxies.

Leavitt’s work allowed astronomers to measure distances up to about 20 million light years. 
Edwin Hubble used Leavitt’s work to establish that the universe is expanding.


Text reads: Urania was the muse of astronomy in Greek mythology. She is the goddess of astronomy and stars, her attributes being the globe and compass.

She was the daughter of Zeus and also a great-granddaughter of Uranus.

Brunel and The Great Eastern

Text reads: Isambard Kingdom Brunel, engineer and showman, and the ship which changed everything.

SS Great Eastern was an iron sail-powered, paddle wheel and screw-propelled steamship designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel and built by John Scott Russell & Co at Millwall Iron Works, across the River Thames from Greenwich Peninsula.

She was the largest ship ever built at the time of her 1858 launch and there was nothing to match her until 1901. Brunel knew her affectionately as the Great Babe. He died in 1859 shortly after her maiden voyage.

She plied for several years as a passenger liner between Britain and North America, before being converted to a cable-laying ship and laying the first lasting transatlantic telegraph cable in 1866.

She was broken up on Merseyside in 1889.

Modern Communications Began Here

Text reads: Glass Elliot – the cable coiled in specially designed pits

The Agamemnon – cable-laying interrupted by a whale

In 1954, Cyprus West Field secured a charter to lay a telegraph cable across the floor of the Atlantic Ocean.

The first telegraph cable to be laid across the Atlantic was made at Glass and Elliot’s cable factory in the Greenwich Peninsula. George Elliot and Richard Attwood Glass took over a cable makers called Kuper’s and called the new firm Glass Elliot.

The Greenwich-made cable went to the British ship Agamemnon, an old ‘wooden walled ship of the line’. The cable was loaded from Greenwich in July 1857. But the attempt was a failure. The cable broke in mid Atlantic and was lost. Work began again. Together with another cable manufacturer, WT Henley, Glass Elliot took over Enderby Wharf and was contracted to make the cable for the second attempt.

Try, Try Again

Text reads: The Glass Elliot-made sheathing for the transatlantic cable used 18 stranded wires woven around a core separated by hemp soaked in tar, pitch and linseed oil. It needed enough wire to encircle the earth three times. The cable was to be made in 1,200 pieces, each two miles long, which were then spliced into eight lengths of 300 miles each.

Loaded onto Agamemnon, the new cable was successfully laid by 5 August 1858, but the connection lasted just two months. Glass Elliot’s technicians designed a new and improved cable for the next attempt. The new cable was so big and heavy that Agamemnon could not carry it and it was thought three ships would be needed. The solution was Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s Great Eastern.

Launched across the river from the Isle of Dogs and known as The Leviathan, she was designed to be bigger and more powerful than any ship before her.

Images from top left: Manufacturing the Transatlantic Cable at Glass Elliot; The main ocean cable used in 1865 and 1866; Glass Elliot works at Morden Wharf; The Prince of Wales visits Greenwich

Leviathan Links the Continents

Text reads: After the first successfully laid transatlantic cable failed, a new design was put into production by Glass Elliot in Greenwich.

It took eight months to make the new cable and two weeks to load it onto Great Eastern. She left Greenwich for Valentia on 15 July 1865. But once more the cable was lost and once again the cable makers went back to Greenwich.

A new cable was ready by 1866. Once again, they loaded the Great Eastern and once again she left the Thames for Valentia. This time, on 27 July, she reached Hearts Content and the cable was laid at last. Great Eastern then went back to look for the broken cable lost in the previous attempt. On 2 September, instruments at the Valentia end of the broken cable began to move. It too was now connected. Within a few moments, both Europe and America knew where Great Eastern was and what she had done.

It is one of the key moments in the formation of the modern world of communications. The Stock Exchange was transformed by it and, by 1871, ‘trading on exchanges in New York and London were effectively integrated’. Within another two years, connections were made to Tokyo and Melbourne – and world markets were shifting towards globalisation.

Images from the top: The Great Eastern under construction; The cable stored on board and payed out; The two ends meet – ‘Both OK’