Meridian zero: what it is. Where is the Prime Meridian?


2018-03-17 20:45:49




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Location and the location of any object on Earth can be determined, knowing the indicators of latitude and longitude points. Find out what the subtleties of meaning of each of them.

How to determine the coordinates

Any modern map allows you to find the coordinates of any city, mountain or lake. Need to know the indicators of latitude and longitude.

the zero Meridian

With the first all is clear: it is relative to the equator-the imaginary line that passes in a place where perpendicular to the axis of the Earth intersects the plane of the center of our planet. It is the start of the countdown, a kind of “zero” to find the value of latitude of the location of the Parallels. The equator passes through several countries-Congo, Kenya, Uganda, Somalia in Africa, Indonesia, located on the Sunda Islands, Ecuador, Brazil, Colombia in South America. Equator gives a clear idea of the breadth.

Another thing - longitude. For a long time there was no consensus on what to take for a basis of reference this coordinate. The longitude – determining the position of a point on the Earth's surface relative to the zero point of reference from which depart the meridians. It is also an imaginary line, which makes working with maps. The angle between each of them and the origin is the longitude. Meridian zero-basis of reference this coordinate.

The Problem of determining longitude

If the equator is clear, then, what is "Prime Meridian" it became clear not at once. For many years different countries used their “zero”. Of course, this created confusion.


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what is the Prime Meridian

Every self-respecting science country in the nineteenth century has acquired an Observatory to observation of the heavenly bodies. It was the starting point of longitude. In Russia, the USA, great Britain and France had their own initial positions of the meridians.

LON is very important in marine navigation. Long before the formation of a clear scientific reference systems existed other methods, allowing not to get lost in the sea. The first option suggested by Johann Werner. The essence – the observation of the Moon. Another method belongs to the genius of Galileo Galilee. Using a telescope he observed the position of the satellites of Jupiter. The disadvantage of this method – the need for complex equipment.

The Method is simpler – the determination using the difference of local and accurate time reference point – is the author of Frisius Gem. But such an accurate watch was also not at all.

The zero Meridian became a kind of Grail – for the accurate determination of longitude in Britain even offered a huge premium. Then the problem was the invention of accurate clocks. What is the Prime Meridian, then just didn't.

The Clock was still invented. The award was given to John Harrison. But the navigation continued to use old methods. Turning point the invention of radio. Modern sailors use satellite data in determining the longitude.

Starting Points

As mentioned, each country had an Observatory, made it the reference point of longitude. Using the Paris Observatory is the eponymous Meridian. He was popular in the nineteenth century.

the zero Meridian passes through

In Russia the zero Meridian, carried the name of the Pulkovo. The name he received from the Observatory, located near St. Petersburg. Used mainly in Russia. This “zero” Meridian passes through Mogilev, Kiev, lake Tanganyika in Africa, the pyramids of Egypt. At the present stage is not used.

Popular was the ferro Meridian passing through the Canary island of the same name. For the first time were used by Ptolemy.

Since the XIX century in England use the Greenwich Meridian. He became “zero” for counting of longitude in the modern world.

The Greenwich Prime Meridian is an imaginary line passing through London. Pulkovo he has a difference of 30 degrees, with the Paris – 2.

Meridiannaya conference

In 1884, on the settlement of the coordinate reference system gathered in Washington eminent geographers and policy. International meridiannaya the conference brought together representatives from Russia, Austria-Hungary, Germany, UK, France, Denmark, Chile, Venezuela, Japan, Switzerland, the Ottoman Empire and many other countries. In total there were 41 representatives.

the Zero Meridian is a

In addition to determining longitude, participants were interested in the development of the system of calculation time. What's the problem? And that until the nineteenth century a single, unified time did not exist. All used local units. This has caused confusion. The lack of standards hinder trade between countries with different level of development of science and culture. There were problems with the transport.

Where you want to start counting longitude

From all the existing starting points, we had to choose one. The decision was taken by open voting, which was attended by all present delegates.

The conference has decided which object should be the reference point of longitude. The zero Meridian, according to the proposals of delegates could take place via Paris, the Azores or Canary Islands, Bering Strait, Greenwich. The island from lost the votes – there was an adequate level of scientific support. Paris also didn't have the votes. Ferro, though popular, was also rejected. The Prime Meridian of London was the winner, protested only France.

A Little about time

The First who spoke about the need to unify the standards of the time, was Mr. Sandford Fleming, canadian engineer simple. Once because of the confusion in time he missed the train and missed an important meeting. Thus, from 1876 Fleming sought reforms.

the zero Meridian of London

The Issue was decided at the conference in Washington. Was formed the system of time zones which are still in use. Innovations adopted, not all. For example, Russia joined the standard only in 1919. Germany, France and Austria-Hungary also joined in later.

The origin is the zero Meridian. Oceans, seas, land passes this imaginary line. The boundaries of the 24 zones are the meridians. However, until now not everyone follows this division. The reasons for this – the size of the countries. The most accurate watch in the world is also located in Greenwich. By the way, the GPS system shows the origin of longitude at the Observatory, and in 100 meters from it.

Prime Meridian oceans

Royal Observatory Greenwich

Center for astronomical research in the UK datum longitude – the Observatory in Greenwich. This place has a rich history. It is based in the XVII century by the efforts of king Charles II. During its existence, the Observatory changed its location. The idea of creating such an institution belonged not to the king, and statesman of Jonas Moore. He convinced the king of the importance of the Observatory and chief astronomer proposed to make John Flamsteed. Soon the building was designed and built, the lion's share of funding was on the shoulders of Moore.

the zero Meridian not my words

Here set accurate clocks and standard time. As you know, through the Observatory is the origin longitude. At the local level, the Greenwich Meridian began to use as early as 1851, and confirmed in the famous conference of 1884.

The Observatory once tried to blow up! At the time, 1894, it was a unique, first time in the history of Britain.

At the present stage, the Observatory continues to function. There are various devices for research in astronomy. In fact, this Museum, which houses many valuable exhibits. They depict the history of science and technology, especially in the field of time measurements. It was recently renovated, and created a planetarium, galleries.


The Prime Meridian-the longitude point and time. But this term can be used in other areas. So, in 2006, Russia became the popular band "Prime Meridian". "Not me" - the most famous song of this group.

The Reference longitude for many years is it from Greenwich. Of the Prime Meridian depart lines on which the coordinates are determined in all parts of the world. It splits the globe into Eastern and Western hemisphere. The Prime Meridian passes through Algeria, Ghana, Mali, Spain, UK, France. Thus, these countries are located in both hemispheres at the same time.


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Alin Trodden - author of the article, editor
"Hi, I'm Alin Trodden. I write texts, read books, and look for impressions. And I'm not bad at telling you about it. I am always happy to participate in interesting projects."

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