The Royal Observatory
The Royal Observatory is the location of the Prime Meridian and of Greenwich Mean Time, making it the official starting point for each new day and year. Entry to the Observatory is free although there are certain exhibitions which might have a charge.
The Observatory has a long history, having been founded in 1675 by Charles II. Because the Prime Meridian is at 0° longitude visitors to the Observatory can stand in both the eastern and western hemispheres at the same time by putting their feet either side of it.
There are several galleries at The Royal Observatory which highlight different aspects of astronomy. In one there are displays of early chronometers made by John Harrison and another attempts to explain the Big Bang and has a 4.5 billion year old meteorite. Children will enjoy the Astronomy Explores gallery which features interactive displays about exploring the Universe and they can try their hands at guiding a space mission. The Astronomy Questions gallery has an interactive table-top which can be used to pick out questions about space and provides the answers.
The Royal Observatory is also home to London's only public camera obscura. It can be found in a summerhouse in the courtyard. Inside the camera obscura room visitors can see a real-time moving panorama of Greenwich and the Thames, the National Maritime Museum and the Royal Naval College. The image given by the camera obscura is projected onto a circular table and is best seen in bright weather.
Another item of interest is the 28-inch Greenwich refracting telescope. Built in1893, this is the largest of its type in the UK.
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