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Things to do in London if you are a chemical engineer - Part 3. May 2, 2019

Things to do in London if you are a chemical engineer - Part 3.

Things to do in London if you are a chemical engineer - Part 3.

This blog is part 3 of Things to do in London if you are a chemical engineer. In the previous 2 blogs London TFE highlighted locations such as The Natural History Museum and the Science Museum, that are great to visit if you are a chemical engineer visiting London for training.

The final blog of the series, Part 3, will now highlight why visiting the Royal Observatory Greenwich is a perfect day out for a chemical engineer whilst in London for training.  

Greenwich, a UNESCO World Heritage Site is located South-East of London and is home to the Royal Observatory and Planetarium.

Situated at the top of a hill in Royal Greenwich Park, the Royal Observatory and Planetarium is known as the, “Home of time,” more specifically the home of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) as well as the Prime Meridian line.

Unsure of the significance? Let’s continue with a short lesson in history!

In the mid-19th century, towns kept their own local time based on the sun. There was nothing on a national or international level to set or measure time.

From the 1850s onwards with the expansion of communication and rail networks, a real need for a standard time to maintain timetables developed. It was at the same time in 1850, the Royal Observatory was built by Royal Astronomer, Sir George Biddell Airy.

With the help of the Royal Observatory, Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) was adopted across the networks and eventually in 1880, GMT became recognised as Britain’s standard time.

Further to this, in 1884 The Prime Meridian line was defined by the position of the Transit Circle telescope developed by Sir George at the Royal Observatory.

Due to its development and to other various beneficial reasons, it was agreed in 1884, that the GMT and the Prime Meridian at Greenwich was to be recognised as the centre of world time and the basis for global time zones.

The historic Prime Meridian line at Greenwich divides the Eastern and Western hemispheres of the earth as a line running from North-South. The line of Longitude for the Earth at this point is defined as 0 degrees for astronomical observations. When measuring terms of distance, East and West, every place on Earth is measured from this line. The Equator is the equivalent of this that divide the Northern and Southern hemispheres.

As it such an iconic and historical place, The Royal Observatory is perfect for a chemical engineer exploring London to visit, as it is unique and has been extremely influential in science. Very rich in science, mathematics, astronomy and engineering history in general, it should be a great a day out for someone working in a STEM field such as chemical engineering.

According to the Meridian Line if you stand with one foot on either side you will be perfectly centred in the middle of Earth’s East and West and essential the middle of the world! This is one of the many iconic things to do when visiting the Royal Observatory Greenwich!

Other amazing things to see and do at the Royal Observatory Greenwich:

  • Learn the story of time and the GMT.
  • Learn the story of how the Prime Meridian came to be.
  • Witness the amazing view from the top of hill over London and Royal Greenwich Park.
  • See the original clock that displayed GMT to the public.
  • See original telescopes, scientific and timekeeping equipment that changed the world.
  • Learn about the lives and families of dedicated Royal Astronomers that lived and worked at the Royal Observatory.
  • Visit the planetarium and see guided shows from experts.

Although the Royal Observatory Greenwich is located outside of London, it is still very accessible from central London. A train from London Bridge is around 10 minutes while the DLR from central London will take around 20 minutes. The walk from the train or DLR station is approximately 15 – 20 minutes to get to the Royal Observatory itself.

The Royal Observatory is open 10 am – 5.30 pm daily. It does require tickets that cost around £15 and can be bought online or upon arrival. A show at the planetarium is not included in the price, tickets for this experience can be bought separately.  

For a chemical engineer undertaking training in London, you could easily spend half a day exploring the Royal Observatory Greenwich before or after training. You could even arrive on a weekend to take some extra time to explore London and all of it’s unique offerings.

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