Royal Observatory



Royal Observatory

Marvel at the history of the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, London. The observatory is the site of the Prime Meridian and the reason we have GMT timezones.

What you need to know about Royal Observatory

City: London, United Kingdom

Transport links: Cutty Sark station (DLR line).

Nearby attractions: Cutty SarkO2 Arena.

Access: The Royal Observatory is part of the Royal Museums Greenwich and tickets to access it can be bought online or on the day. There are other attractions such as the Cutty Sark nearby that can also be accessed with the same ticket if you purchase the right type. Check with your ticket seller what access you will have to make sure you see all the tourist attractions.

Fact: The Royal Observatory stands solely as a museum these days. The scientific and cosmological work carried out there was gradually moved to another site throughout the first half of the 20th century. This leaves the original 17th century site as a fantastic monument to discoveries of yesteryear, and well worth a visit.

The Royal Observatory is a place of innovation and discovery

For anybody with a fascination with space and our place in the universe, it would be a surprise if a trip to the Royal Observatory was not high on your list of places to visit in London.

Opened in 1676, it is the site of many important discoveries throughout 18th century cosmology, and the birthplace of the GMT timezone. GMT timezones unified the world's time into a codified process of measurement meaning this is a hugely important step forward for the planet, and one we wholly take for granted these days.

The Prime Meridian line also runs directly through the site which is something pretty fun to say you have seen when recalling your travel stories. You will also get the chance to stand straddling the meridian line meaning you have a foot in each of the eastern and western hemispheres - an Instagram opportunity not to be missed!


The Prime Meridian line in Greenwich is the reason we have GMT timezones

The original building - Flamsteed House - is available to explore and there are many interactive exhibitions that showcase the discoveries made over the last few hundred years.

Feast your eyes on the giant telescope

Despite the scientific work having long moved away from the Royal Observatory, there remains the infrastructure of when it was Britain's hub of astrological discovery. A massive 28 inch refracting telescope can still be found under the observatory's dome. It is still to this day the largest refracting telescope not just in London but in the whole of the UK, and is often used for education these days.


The giant refracting telescope at the Royal Observatory

Rocks from the cosmos

The associated planetarium building has exhibits and educational displays mainly geared up to entertain and entice children or school/college trips. If you are interested in stargazing and the universe then as a tourist there is still enough of interest to make it worth checking out.

Meteorites are displayed for example showing rocks and minerals that are not of this world, and a genuine Martian rock is also on show!

You can also find displays and projections in the planetarium that provide a tour of our own solar system.

If you are into space and things of that ilk then the Royal Observatory is a Globedge must-visit recommendation when you are in London.