London – Maritime Greenwich

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2. Greenwich Royal Observatory

Top 10 ten London – Maritime Greenwich

Greenwich Royal Observatory

The Royal Observatory was established by King Charles II in 1675. He took a personal interest in astronomy, and granted the task of finding an astronomical method of calculating the longitude of a ship at sea to the first Royal Astronomer, John Flamsteed.

As a result of King Charles’ enthusiasm, the world now sets its clocks to Greenwich Meant Time (GMT).

One of the main challenges was to produce a chronometer (clock) that was reliable enough to withstand sea voyages, and accurate enough to keep good time.

This wasn’t achieved until 1763, when John Harrison won the Longitude Prize, with the clock, “H4.”

The Chronometer Gallery displays a selection of timepieces, and describes some of the struggles their inventors underwent.

Flamsteed House is the oldest part of the observatory, which was used by the King to show his collection of telescopes and scientific instruments to guests.

A popular photo opportunity for tourists is to put one foot either side of the Prime Meridian, or zero degrees longitude, which is marked in the ground by a brass strip running through the observatory’s cobbled courtyard.

Outside the observatory, there is an excellent view over Greenwich Park, The Royal Naval College, across the Thames to Canary Wharf, showing a contrast between past and present, and a composite of Britain’s trading, seafaring and scientific history.

Greenwich Royal Observatory
National Maritime Museum
SE10 9NF
England, UK

Greenwich Royal Observatory
Opening Times:    
Monday to Sunday 10.00 am –5.00 pm

Summer opening hours (30th June – 2nd September 2007)
Monday – Sunday 10.00 am – 6.00 pm

Last admission is 30 minutes before closing

Greenwich Royal Observatory
Free – charges may apply to some special exhibitions and events

T  Museum switchboard +44 (0)20 8858 4422

Recorded information line +44 (0)20 8312 6565

Bookings +44 (0)20 8312 8575

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W  Greenwich Royal Observatory  

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