MIRA Public Observatory
The MIRA Public Observatory is a non-profit association, founded in 1967 by Father Pieraerts, affiliated with the Grimbergen Abbey.
Exhibition with vast experimentation area and huge collection of astronomical instruments
Over the years, the MIRA Public Observatory has become a real pole of attraction for anyone interested in what is going on in the Universe. MIRA receives many thousands of visitors every year, both in group visits and during open days or during opening hours for individual visitors. The observatory consists of a spacious exhibition and experimentation area, it provides accommodation for several multimedia facilities and exhibits perhaps the most extensive collection of astronomical instruments owned by a Belgian observatory. This includes also two fixed telescope domes, a fixed solar telescope, a complete weather station and an important collection of large and small portable instruments.
You can also take a look at these instruments by surfing to our virtual tour (text in Dutch).
How and when can you visit MIRA?
The observatory is open for individual visitors during the afternoon on Sundays and Wednesdays (exception made on bank holidays). Under a clear sky, you will be able observing the Sun through our up-to-date instruments.
Astroclub gatherings take place twice a month. Every second Friday of the month a multimedia show (in Dutch) is organised for families with children. Every last Friday of the month a lecture on a scientific topic (in Dutch) is given. Subsequently paying a visit to the exhibition area and the observation terrace is possible.
According to prior arrangements visitor groups are welcome at MIRA every day (exception made on Sundays and bank holidays).
Volkssterrenwacht Mira vzw
Abdijstraat 22- 1850 Grimbergen
Phone: +32 2 269 12 80
North latitude: 50°56'04.9"; east longitude: 4°22'09.0"; Google Maps
Company number: 0408.155.709
Register of Legal Persons: Court for Dutch-speaking companies in Brussels
By prior appointment, groups can visit MIRA every day (except on Sundays and bank holidays).
Our opening hours are:
• Monday, Friday and Saturday: from 2 to 10 PM
• Tuesday and Thursday: from 9 AM to 10 PM
• Wednesday: from 9 AM to 6 PM
We welcome individual visitors (except on bank holiday):
• on Wednesday: from 2 to 6 PM
• on Sunday: from 2 to 6 PM
• guided tour
- groups of up to 15 people maximum: € 90.00
- groups of 16 people or more: € 6.00 / person
• specific programme for young children (schoolgroups of 16 children or more): € 4.00 / child
• individual tour of the exhibition (without a physical guide): € 3.00 / person
• guided tour of the exhibition + weather station + observatory
- school groups of up to 15 people maximum: € 105.00
- school groups of 16 people or more: € 7.00 / person
• guided tour only of the weather station
- groups of up to 20 people maximum: € 30.00
- groups of 21 people or more: € 1.50 / person
• a birthday party at MIRA
- groups of up to 15 people maximum: € 120.00
- groups of 16 people or more: € 8.00 / person
Combined tickets for groups
• MIRA + Technopolis in Mechelen
- adults: € 21.25 / person
- seniors 60+ and disabled people: € 19.75 / person
- children up to the age of 11: € 17.75 / child
- disabled children up to the age of 11: € 17.25 / child
- schoolchildren: € 12.45 / person
• MIRA + Planetarium Royal Observatory
- groups of 20 people or more: € 11.00 / person
- school groups of 15 people or more: € 10.00 / person
• MIRA + Museum of Ancient Techniques (MOT)
- groups of 15 people or more: € 9.00 / person
Combined tickets for individual visits on Wednesday and Sunday afternoon
• MIRA + Planetarium Royal Observatory
- adults: € 10.00 / person
- children, students, seniors 60+: € 8.00 / person
Individual visitors on Wednesday and Sunday afternoon
MIRA is open every Wednesday and Sunday from 2 to 6 p.m. We welcome individual visitors all curious to learn more about astronomy, space and meteorology. An audio guide is available.
Many topics are covered, judge for yourself…
Scale models, experiments, multimedia, observation instruments, ...
On a rotating map of the Flemish starry sky, visitors on their own can explore the celestial bodies. When can we see Orion? Where is the constellation Ursa Major located? What is special about the Polar Star? Which are the brightest stars? And there is much more.
On each visit the Foucault pendulum demonstrates that our planet actually turns around its axis.
A model shows how seasons occur on Earth; others expose the conditions under which an eclipse becomes observable or even evoke an image of spatial curvature around large masses. Step by step we come closer to black holes…
A digital weather station (the data of which can also be consulted on our website) collects long-term weather conditions; the accompanying video informs you how a weather forecast is made. This has been illustrated by a magnificent montage of “cloud ballets”. On the observation terrace, take a look at the thermometric hut, the pluviograph, the barometer and the other instruments of our weather station. From now on and after this visit you will differently look at weather related conditions.
On the observation terrace
On the observation terrace the two telescope domes obviously attract special attention. Open entrance doors invite the visitor to enter and have a look inside.
Why are telescopes tilted? Is the dome rotating? Is it harmful to observe the Sun? Are these telescopes really powerful instruments?
Many questions will be followed by as many answers.
Optics and the study of sunlight
Returning into the building, you can explore the optical assembly of a telescope (likewise the imaging of an eye, of a camera, ...). For this purpose a series of interactive optical benches is made available. Those as such are worth the visit! In the quest for the laws of optics the visitor will discover the behaviour of light beams through a practical and interactive demonstration. Face to face with the human eye you will become aware of the analogy between how we see and how a telescope works.
The small plasma globe which is surrounded by its own electromagnetic field turns out to be very attractive and it illustrates the process that takes place inside of the Sun.
By means of a green laser source and after having pressed a button on a didactic panel, you will find out that a light beam is not always behaving along an obvious path as expected.
Observing the Sun in our planetarium can be carried out on any clear and sunny day (excepted the afternoons of winter months the Sun being positioned too low and too close to the horizon). Our unique heliostat allows you to study sunspots under comfortable and safe circumstances: the sun disk 140 cm in diameter is projected into the darkened room.
Enthusiastic volunteers will be delighted to transform the telescope into a spectroscope, thus projecting the multi-coloured "bar code" of the Sun on the screen. The equipment available in the room also consists of a multimedia projector, so that - when solar observations are not possible - homemade videos on various astronomical topics can be shown.
Cosmic rays and meteors
When it’s cloudy radio astronomy still remains a practicable branch of astronomy! Our radio wave detector (on the first floor) captures, filters and produces an audible signal as emitted by shooting stars. A screen displays live activity over the last few minutes.
Meteors during the day? One more reason to pay a visit to the Public Observatory MIRA.
Finally visiting our exhibition facilities is a must. You will be overwhelmed by illustrated explanations on various topics related to astronomy, such as the evolution of stars, the structure of the universe, the rings of Saturn, meteorites, etc.
The Geiger counter continuously detects faint background radioactivity: no matter where you stay on Earth, you are imperceptibly exposed to cosmic rays.
And whoever wishes can weigh themselves. Assume walking, for example, on the surface of the Moon or even the Sun you will figure out that your weight is not identical everywhere! Do you know why?
All this without a guide? You of course can rely on the explicative panels. But audio guides are available. By recorded voice these small devices explain the worth knowing all along the visitors trajectory (audio guides are in Dutch or French, but you can get a printed version in English).
As from the beginning, the primary objective set by the MIRA Public Observatory has been to initiate young people in the wonderful world of astronomy, space exploration, meteorology and associated research. Besides, the name "MIRA" refers to "wonder, astonishment", and we try to transfer this message of wonder and astonishment with great enthusiasm to all our visitors, and in particular to young people.
Each year MIRA actually welcomes many school groups: from pre-schoolers to primary and secondary school children, and to high school students as well.
Programme on request
For every target group, we offer a special programme, adapted to their age, to their field of study and in accordance with the programmes as defined by the Ministry of Education. In addition eventual wishes expressed by the accompanying teachers will be taken into account.
Observations if weather conditions are good
MIRA owns the largest collection of telescopes in the Benelux, so a visit to the observation terrace must be regarded as unmissable. Let's take a look at the large telescope domes and you sure will be keen to learn how using these instruments which allow us to observe stars and planets. And under clear sky conditions, real telescope observations are a permanent item on the agenda. It’s an opportunity for everyone to individually look closely at one or more celestial objects.
Experiments, scale models and multimedia
Inside the MIRA premises, school children learn about the Sun, Moon, planets and stars. So they become aware of the unique position that Earth occupies in this gigantic universe. They gather this information through experiments, models and with the aid of photos and videos.
Make an appointment to prepare your visit
Based on many years of experience, we are able to offer an attractive and custom designed programme combining qualitative content and enthusiastic teaching commitment.
Teachers who wish to do so can elaborate a specific programme after consultation with the educational staff of the Public Observatory. This is put into practice by ad hoc agreements when requesting a reservation, or on the occasion of a prior visit to MIRA.