Royal Observatory Greenwich

the Royal Observatory Greenwich is situated on a hill in Greenwich Park, overlooking the Thames. The observatory is best known as the location of the prime meridian. Established in 1675 by King Charles II, the observatory was designed to help solve the problem of longitude at sea. At that time, astronomers did not know how to accurately measure longitude, which made navigation very difficult and dangerous. Longitude is now measured using very accurate clocks, but in the 17th century it was a major challenge. The observatory has played an important role in the history of astronomy and navigation, and is home to many famous scientific instruments. These include the first marine chronometer, developed by John Harrison and used by Captain James Cook during his explorations in the 18th century. Today it continues to be an active center for public outreach and education, conducting groundbreaking research with its state-of-the-art telescopes.

astronomers who have worked at the Royal Observatory Greenwich

Some of the most famous astronomers in history have worked at the Royal Observatory Greenwich. John Flamsteed, who was appointed the first royal astronomer by King Charles II in 1675, worked at the observatory for most of his life. He compiled a catalog of over 3,000 stars, which was published posthumously in 1725 and is still used today.

Other notable astronomers who have worked at the observatory include Edmond Halley (best known for predicting the return of Comet Halley), James Bradley (who discovered the Earth’s rotation), and Nevil Maskelyne (who developed methods to measure longitude determined at sea). In recent years, the observatory has been home to some of the world’s leading experts in solar physics and cosmology.

instruments present in the Observatory

The Octant
This instrument was used to measure the angle between two objects, such as the sun and the horizon. Invented in 1730 by John Hadley and Thomas Godfrey, it was an important aid to navigation before the invention of the sextant.

The transit circle
this instrument was used to measure the position of stars as they crossed the meridian. It was invented in 1675 by John Flamsteed, the first Astronomer Royal, and played a vital role in mapping the stars.

The time ball
this instrument was used to indicate the time of day by dropping a ball at a predetermined time. It was first installed in Greenwich in 1833 and could even be seen from London Bridge.

The Great Equatorial Telescope
This huge telescope was used for observing distant objects in the sky. It was built in 1834 by Edward Troughton and could achieve magnifications of up to 40x.

the prime meridian

The prime meridian at the Royal Observatory Greenwich is the starting point for measuring longitude. It was founded in 1884 and is currently marked by a bronze line inlaid into the stone floor of the observatory. Every day, visitors can stand on the meridian line and have their picture taken. You can stand here with one foot in the Western hemisphere and the other foot in the Eastern hemisphere

opening hours

10am – 5pm


tickets are available via this link

how do you get there?

Dockland Light Rail to Cutty Sark.

from here follow signs to Royal Observatory Greenwich

Romney Road


the london pass

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