Prime time to celebrate 125 years of history
PUBLISHED: 10:25 22 October 2009 | UPDATED: 17:17 25 August 2010
TO mark 125 years since the world s division between east and west, an observatory at the centre of time is to host special talks on its momentous history. Today, the Royal Observatory, Greenwich, celebrates 125 years as the home of the Prime Meridian of
TO mark 125 years since the world's division between east and west, an observatory at the centre of time is to host special talks on its momentous history.
Today, the Royal Observatory, Greenwich, celebrates 125 years as the home of the Prime Meridian of the World, Longitude 0 degrees and the point where international time zones are taken from.
On October 22, 1884, the International Meridian Conference saw 25 nations meet in Washington DC to vote Greenwich as the Prime Meridian.
A meridian is a north-south line that has served as a vital part of navigation. An astronomer chooses it as the zero point for all observations and measurements, building up an accurate map of the night sky.
Curator of science and technology at the Observatory, Rebekah Higgitt, said: "The Prime Meridian has taken on a huge symbolic significance.
"We are celebrating the conference anniversary but in reality Greenwich was already being used by thousands of people all over the world for navigation on charts.
"There was some opposition to Greenwich being chosen. The French wanted a neutral location, less politically charged.
"Other major observatories in Paris and Berlin could stake a claim, as could the major ports such as Lisbon. But in the end Greenwich would cause the least disruption."
The last astronomer to use the Transit Circle telescope in the Observatory's Meridian Building in 1954, Gilbert Satterthwaite, will be giving visitors his own insights as part of the free birthday celebration talks.
This Sunday clocks go back one hour from British Summer Time to Greenwich Mean Time.