British Empire, Royal Observatory, Greenwich, looking for longitude since 1675 June 22


Greenwich Park has been the site of noteworthy buildings since the reign of William I. A GOOD PIECE OF REAL ESTATE CAN BE HARD TO FIND.   Greenwich Palace, near the site of the present-day Maritime Museum, was the birthplace of Henry VIII; SADLY, THERE ARE NO PHOTOS OF LITTLE BABY HENRY.  the Tudors used Greenwich Castle, which stood on the property that the Observatory presently occupies. The Royal Observatory is constructed on the old site of Greenwich Castle which was frequently used as a hunting lodge by Henry VIII.  AS AN OBSERVATORY THE PURPOSE BECAME HUNTING STARS AND NOT ANIMALS.

THE SITE ALSO HAD A RATHER INFAMOUS HISTORY.  Greenwich Castle was reportedly a favourite place for Henry VIII to house his mistresses, so that he could smoothly travel from the Palace to see them. IT SORT BECAME A HAPPY PARTY CLUB HOUSE FOR A SWINGING KING HENRY.  The grounds nearby the Tudor building were infamous with somber events during Henry’s reign including Anne Boleyn’s arrest before her execution at the Tower of London.  OF COURSE, HENRY WAS LOOKING FOR MALE HEIRS AND NOT STARRY SKIES.

In order for ships to conquest or trade abroad AS WAS THE NORM FOR THE BRITISH EMPIRE improved navigation at sea was mandatory, primarily accurate measurements of longitude.  AFTER ALL, THE BRITISH NAVY WANTED TO CONQUER THE SEAS, AND IT NEEDED TO KNOW WHERE THEIR SHIPS WERE LOCATED WHEN AT SEA.  This meant studying the moon and stars over a long time.

1675, on June 22, the Royal Observatory, Greenwich was established by King Charles II. IT WAS TIME TO FIGURE OUT THIS NAVIGATION PROBLEM.  The Royal Observatory, Greenwich (ROG) is an observatory located on a hill in Greenwich Park, above the River Thames, about 8 km from the center of London. IT BECAME THE BRIITSH WINDOW ON THE STELLAR SKY..

The Astronomer Royal, John Flamstead had the job of finding how to calculate accurate longitude measurements.  OF COURSE, HE DID NOT HAVE THE BENEFIT OF GPS OR GOOGLE MAPS.  In his 40-year career during ill health and poor wages he took over 50,000 observations but still never managed to solve the problem. THERE WERE COUNTLESS OBSERVATIONS OF THE SKY THOUGH NO SOLUTION TO THE NAVIGATION PROBLEM.  However, six years after his death in 1719 his book Historia Coelestis Britannica was published.  This book helped another man to solve the problem of longitude and make Greenwich the home of the prime meridian and GMT.

At  the Observatory, you can step across the prime meridian line – and be in two hemispheres and two time zones at the same time.


“California Stars” ~~ Billy Bragg and Wilco

“Star on the Water” ~~ Rodney Crowell

“Looking for Astronauts” ~~ The National

“I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” ~~ U2

“Lookin’ Out My Back Door” ~~ Creedence Clearwater




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