English Astronomers: The Royal Observatory Greenwich

Posted by David Eicher
on Friday, August 09, 2013

Today our London group of Astronomy magazine travelers got up, had a hearty English breakfast, and headed off to a suite in our hotel to hear my lecture. I spoke for an hour and 20 minutes on "Comets: Visitors from Deep Space," which included many great questions from the group. The talk is based on the book I have coming out this October from Cambridge University Press.

Flamsteed House, built in 1675, the original and most important structure of the Royal Observatory Greenwich, which contains the octagon room made for astronomical observations, Greenwich, August 9, 2013. // photo by David J. Eicher
Following our discussion of many comets past and present, we boarded a bus and traveled to Greenwich, southeast of London. There we spent most of the day at the Royal Observatory Greenwich, soaking in one of the most historic astronomical sites of Europe. We toured Flamsteed House, home of the first Astronomer Royal John Flamsteed, which was constructed in 1675. There we saw numerous historic astronomical instruments, including telescopes and other instruments of Edmond Halley and William Herschel. We saw the famous Octagon Room, filled with treasures, which had been built for astronomical observations from multiple directions. Nearby, we took photos at the prime meridian of the world, the 0° longitude line that defines time zones and timekeeping. We explored the Airy Transit Circle, used for determining the prime meridian since 1884. We saw the historic 28-inch refractor, the largest such telescope in Europe. We saw numerous important historical instruments and clocks of John Harrison, including his famous marine chronometer, which made navigation at sea safe and reliable and helped to regularize timekeeping.

The group enjoyed a special showing of astronomical imagery from the earliest days to the present, in the National Maritime Museum, located near the observatory. The group enjoyed a fantastic dinner at the museum, and we explored the legendary tea clipper Cutty Sark, anchored at Greenwich.

It was a great and long day, one that everyone enjoyed to the fullest.

For all the photos of the English Astronomers tour, visit our Trips & Tours page.

Related blog:

English Astronomers: Touring London

Tags: England
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