One of my favorite resources, The Writer’s Almanac, said that on May 4th, in 1675, 340 years ago, King Charles II commissioned the Royal Greenwich Observatory. Taking river transportation along the wonderfully interesting Thames River way from Westminster to Greenwich, I’ve been to the observatory - eons ago! I had this post labelled for a posting on that day, but I put off going to the photo scrapbook to dig out the appropriate pictures. This morning I finally got to it. Here’s one of our daughter, Alice (From Our Palace) standing in two time zones.
|That's Frank back there - studying, studying, always studying.|
The Royal Greenwich Observatory is the place of the Prime Meridian, the demarcation of the Eastern and Western hemispheres. It is the place of Greenwich Mean Time, hour zero, the creation of which standardized time throughout the world.
The Observatory is a marvelous museum of horological wonders, sitting on a hill in a beautiful building designed by Christopher Wren. Though it’s no longer a working observatory, because of the light pollution from London, it is still a museum and planetarium. The time pieces and astronomical equipment on display include some of the ‘marine timekeepers’ John Harrison invented to solve the problem of longitude and timekeeping on moving ships. Frank, as you can imagine, was fascinated.
I’ve stood on the Prime Meridian, had my picture taken of course, though you won't see it here, and had a foot in each hemisphere. I didn’t feel a thing. It’s the same with standing at Four Corners out west, or on the U.S.-Canada border: a fun thing to have added to your life list. It’s like being on a mountain top in New York State, looking over into Vermont and Massachusetts: it’s not ‘here’, it’s ‘there’, and it’s notable and different.