Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Philatelic Photograph: Royal Greenwich Observatory - Greenwich, England

Interesting Places I've Photographed
Royal Greenwich Observatory
Greenwich, England
Topic: Philatelic Photographs

GPS: N51° 28.682; W000° 00.099

Quick Description: 

The Royal Observatory at Greenwich is located on a hill top in Greenwich Park in the London borough of Greenwich, England.

Long Description:

The Royal Greenwich observatory was commissioned in 1675 by King Charles II. Construction began on August 10, 1675 on a architectural design by Christopher Wren. John Flamsteed was appointed as the first Astronomer Royal and lived and worked in what is now called the Flamsteed House which is depicted on the stamp. It was was the first facility in Great Britain built for purpose of scientific research. The cost of construction of this Renaissance style structure was £520.

Great Britain maintained a huge worldwide empire and had a great need for accurate astronomical information for the purpose of navigation. The original observatory housed the scientific instruments to be used by Flamsteed in his work on stellar tables, and over time also incorporated a number of additional responsibilities such marking the official time of day, and housing Her Majesty's Nautical Almanac Office. The Prime Meridian was established at Greenwich in 1851 and adopted at an international conference in 1884 as the basis for worldwide standard for longitude data. Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), the worldwide time standard, was, until 1954, based on celestial observations made at Greenwich.

Due to light pollution from London across the Thames, the value of the observatory for celestial observation has diminished over the years and in 1948 the Royal Observatory moved to Herstmonceux, a town in Sussex, England. Now, the buildings are used as a museum of astronomical and navigational tools, which is part of the National Maritime Museum.

The stamp was issued by Great Britain in 1975 as part of a set of four stamps celebrating the European Architectural Heritage Year 1975.

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