Royal Observatory
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Royal Observatory tickets and tours

Overlooking the charming Greenwich Park and River Thames in the heart of London, the Royal Observatory is world-renowned for its astronomical discover...

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The inside story

Overlooking the charming Greenwich Park and River Thames in the heart of London, the Royal Observatory is world-renowned for its astronomical discoveries dating back hundreds of years. Commissioned in 1675 by King Charles II of England, the Observatory is a unique attraction that hosts over two million tourists a year.

The Royal Observatory in Greenwich became the first purpose-built scientific research facility in Britain. Along with gathering information on stars, King Charles II wanted to create something in order to help sailors with navigational purposes since international trade was becoming popular.

By the early 1760's, with the help of the moon, a clock, and the use of the Observatory as a point of reference, sailors were able to distinguish how far from home they were. Since time zones change based on location, sailors used a clock with the time at the Observatory, known as Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), and the location of the moon in order to determine how far they were from Greenwich. All time zones in the world today are measured from Greenwich Mean Time.

In 1884, the Greenwich Meridian was chosen as the official Prime Meridian, or Meridian Line (0 degrees longitude), and divides Earth into the Eastern Hemisphere and Western Hemisphere. On your visit, don't forget to take a selfie in the centre of the world, with one foot in the east and one foot in the west!

Today, the observatory buildings turned into a museum and are part of the National Maritime Museum. Discover the history of the Observatory with a guided tour and learn about all of the royal astronomers and their contributions. Admire the Great Equatorial Telescope, the largest historical telescope in the United Kingdom which provided new views of the universe over 100 years ago. Bring the whole family and take a virtual tour of the universe as you enjoy a show at the modern planetarium.

The Royal Observatory is open every day from 10:30am to 4:00pm. It can be accessed by car, train, bus, and even boat if you decide to take a boat trip down the River Thames. Paid parking can be found at the National Maritime Museum, or you can hop on bus 53, 54, 202, or 380 and get off at the Royal Observatory stop. The nearest train stations are Cutty Shark DLR, Greenwich DLR, Maze Hill and Blackheath station, which are all about a 15-20 minute walk from the Observatory.

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How to get there

Royal Observatory Blackheath Ave, Greenwich, London SE10 8XJ, UK London