Royal Greenwich Observatory

Royal Greenwich Observatory, astronomical observatory established in 1675 by Charles II of England at Greenwich and known as the Royal Observatory. It moved during 1948–57 to Herstmonceux Castle, Sussex; with the completion of the move, the observatory was renamed, and the Greenwich site was renamed the Old Royal Observatory. In 1990 the observatory again moved, to Cambridge; in 1998 it was closed and many of its functions and equipment were transferred to the UK Astronomy Technology Centre, based at the Royal Observatory, Edinburgh, Scotland. The Nautical Almanac Office, which publishes the national navigational and astronomical almanacs, was ultimately transferred (2006) to the UK Hydrographic Office.

The zero meridian, from which longitude is measured, passes through the original location at Greenwich; the Royal Observatory buildings there are now part of the Royal Museums Greenwich and house a museum and science center and, since 2018, the Annie Maunder Astrographic Telescope. From the appointment of John Flamsteed as its first director until 1972, the director of the observatory held the title of astronomer royal. Among the noted directors were Flamsteed, Edmond Halley, James Bradley, Nevil Maskelyne, G. B. Airy, and E. Margaret Burbidge, who was the first director not to be astronomer royal.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2023, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: Astronomical Observatories