An imperfect account of a comet: preview for Open House

Caroline Herschel's observation notebook, showing her third discovery of a comet on 7 January 1790
Royal Astronomical Society
Start Date
End Date

The Royal Astronomical Society (RAS) is proud to present a preview of the a collaborative piece created by Lynda Laird, Annie Needham and Phil Thomsett which will form a key part of our Open House London tours in 2022 and has been supported by Arts Council England.

An imperfect account of a comet is an audio visual installation celebrating the discoveries of the 18th century astronomer Caroline Herschel; combining photographic glass plates of the 560 stars she noticed were missing from the British Catalogue and accompanied by the sound piece 8 comets - a combination of music and spoken word. The structure of the composition is based on the orbits of the 8 comets Caroline discovered, and the words have been taken from her journals and observations.

Sign up for a free ticket to listen to the whole sound piece in our lecture theatre, and to take a close look at the photographic plate installation. You will also have a chance to visit our library, and see a specially commissioned banner installation to commemorate the bicentenary of the oldest astronomical society in the world.

Please note that due to limited space, we are offering two timing slots.

You can choose an 18.00 ticket to arrive and look at the lightbox installation on the first floor, before taking a seat in the lecture theatre for the audio performance at 18.30.


You can choose to arrive in time for the 18.30 audio performance, and see the lightbox installation upstairs afterwards.

See the Open House London website for information about other events that the RAS is hosting during the Open HouseLondon festival 2022, as well as details of other participating tenants of Burlington House:

Geological Society of London (16 September)
Linnean Society of London (17 September)

Venue Address

The Royal Astronomical Society,Burlington House


51.5085763, -0.13960799999995