This month we feature the Royal Greenwich Observatory and the Prime Meridian – Where East meets West
The Prime Meridian is arbitrary and could be located anywhere but the choice of Greenwich was decided at the International Meridian Conference, on 13th October 1884. Greenwich won the vote.
Although there is a line on the ground and a laser at night, the actual meridian is aligned with the cross-hairs in the eyepiece of the Transit Circle telescope at the Royal Greenwich Observatory.
When King Charles II created the Royal Greenwich Observatory he created the position of Astronomer Royal to go with it. There have been a total of 15 Astronomers Royal from 1675 to the present.
The original cost of the Royal Observatory in 1675 was £520, which was actually £20 over-budget.
Today you can visit the Observatory and stand with one foot on each side of the meridian - which means you are both in front of and behind Greenwich mean time, which is a very popular activity.