Royal Observatory, Greenwich
Astronomy is a natural science that deals with the study of celestial objects and phenomena that originate outside the atmosphere of Earth...
Navigation is the process of monitoring and controlling the movement of a craft or vehicle from one place to another. It is also the term of art used for the specialized knowledge used by navigators to perform navigation tasks...
, and is best known as the location of the prime meridian
The Prime Meridian is the meridian at which the longitude is defined to be 0°.The Prime Meridian and its opposite the 180th meridian , which the International Date Line generally follows, form a great circle that divides the Earth into the Eastern and Western Hemispheres.An international...
. It is situated on a hill in Greenwich Park
Greenwich Park is a former hunting park in Greenwich and one of the largest single green spaces in south east London. One of the Royal Parks of London, and the first to be enclosed , it covers , and is part of the Greenwich World Heritage Site. It commands fine views over the River Thames, Isle of...
, overlooking the River Thames
The River Thames flows through southern England. It is the longest river entirely in England and the second longest in the United Kingdom. While it is best known because its lower reaches flow through central London, the river flows alongside several other towns and cities, including Oxford,...
The observatory was commissioned in 1675 by King Charles II
Charles II of England
Charles II was monarch of the three kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland.Charles II's father, King Charles I, was executed at Whitehall on 30 January 1649, at the climax of the English Civil War...
, with the foundation stone being laid on 10 August. At this time the king also created the position of Astronomer Royal
Astronomer Royal is a senior post in the Royal Household of the Sovereign of the United Kingdom. There are two officers, the senior being the Astronomer Royal dating from 22 June 1675; the second is the Astronomer Royal for Scotland dating from 1834....
(initially filled by John Flamsteed
Sir John Flamsteed FRS was an English astronomer and the first Astronomer Royal. He catalogued over 3000 stars.- Life :Flamsteed was born in Denby, Derbyshire, England, the only son of Stephen Flamsteed...
), to serve as the director of the observatory and to "apply himself with the most exact care and diligence to the rectifying of the tables of the motions of the heavens, and the places of the fixed stars, so as to find out the so much desired longitude of places for the perfecting of the art of navigation." The building was completed in the summer of 1676.