The Royal Observatory of Greenwich reopens its doors 60 years after the smog of London forced it to close in 1957
Founded in 1675 by King Charles II of England, the Royal Observatory, Greenwich was created with the aim of improving navigation at sea and reducing shipwrecks by mapping the locations of the stars. It is located on the site of the first meridian, the line that divides the eastern and western hemispheres of the world, in the same way that Equatorial zone divides the northern and southern hemispheres.
However, in 1957 the industrialization of London resulted in extreme light pollution and a layer of smog that interfered with the operations of the place, so it was forced to close.
On June 26 it was announced that after 60 years of rest, the Royal Observatory would open its doors. This is thanks to a successful campaign launched by Royal Museums Greenwich in 2017, which helped raise funds to restore and improve the building where the observatory was located.
According to The Guardian, the set of telescopes and remodeling of the pavilion were paid for by grants, museum members, sponsors, and public donations that together raised over £ 150,000 for the project.
This time the place is equipped with a new telescope called Annie Maunder, in honor of one of the first scientists working there. At a cost of approximately £ 50,000, the telescope captures high-magnification images and moving images of the sun, moon, and planets in the solar system.
According to The Telegraph newspaper, astronomers at the reopened Royal Observatory hope to witness the lunar eclipse "blood moon" on July 27, 2018, during which the moon will turn a reddish color as it passes through the shadow of the earth.
A Latin American case
In 2018, the Astronomical Observatory of Quito (OAQ, by its acronym in Spanish), one of the oldest observatories in Latin America designed by Bautista Menten in 1872 and considered "Monumental Heritage of the Nation", has marked 145 years of operation.
According to the newspaper El Comercio, like the Greenwich observatory, the peculiarity, and importance of the OAQ was in its proximity to the Equatorial Line of the planet, which made it one of the best of its time to be an ideal place for data collection of celestial bodies in the universe.
However, this observatory has not been dedicated solely to the study of outer space but has contributed significantly in areas such as geophysics, meteorology or cartography in Ecuador.
"It was built as an astrometric observatory, that is, it had instruments to determine the positions of the celestial bodies. These data were very important, since there were no precise data from the Equatorial zone and the instruments of the national observatory helped to establish the fundamental catalog of stars: the FK5", points out Ericsson López doctor in astrophysics and director of the OAQ at El Comercio.
Finally, the mission of the OAQ is scientific dissemination, so this institution periodically conducts training workshops for teachers in the country so they can educate their students in astronomy.
Latin American Post | Luisa Fernanda Báez
Translated from "Observatorio Real de Greenwich: Una mirada al universo tras 60 años de descanso"