Royal Observatory Greenwich

Royal Observatory Greenwich

Top Tourist Attractions

The Royal Observatory, Greenwich (ROG; known as the Old Royal Observatory from 1957 to 1998, when the working Royal Greenwich Observatory, RGO, temporarily moved south from Greenwich to Herstmonceux) is an observatory situated on a hill in Greenwich Park in east London, overlooking the River Thames to the north.

The Royal Observatory in Greenwich is the historic source of the Prime Meridian of the world, Longitude 0° 0' 0''.  The world prime meridian marks the divide between the eastern and western hemispheres.

Attractions at the Royal Observatory

Stand on the historic Prime Meridian Line

Place one foot in the west and one in the east at the Prime Meridian of the world. Learn all about Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) and how Greenwich came to be the home of time.  Don’t forget to snap that important selfie.

The Great Equatorial Telescope

Marvel at the Royal Observatory's largest telescope. Stand beneath the magnificent onion dome and marvel at one of the largest refracting telescopes in the world. The Great Equatorial Telescope gallery has recently been refurbished with new lighting, new displays, and brand-new astronomy. This pioneering instrument will once again take place of pride at the Royal Observatory Greenwich.

 The Peter Harrison Planetarium

Get up close and personal with the stars in one of the planetariums show led by one of our expert astronomers. Explore the current range of shows at the Peter Harrison Planetarium. Join Royal Observatory astronomers and leading scientists on a fascinating journey into space, from planetarium shows and science sessions for kids to in-depth astronomy courses and community events.

 The Octagon Room

The Octagon Room is the oldest part of the Royal Observatory Greenwich. It was commissioned by King Charles II, designed by famed architect Sir Christopher Wren and completed in 1676. Astronomical instruments and clocks line the walls and windows, just as they would have been in the Observatory's early years.

Majestic view

Maritime Greenwich is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and its grand views and architecture are the result of centuries of construction and changing uses. Climb to the top of the hill in Greenwich Park and outside the Royal Observatory, you will find a fantastic viewpoint in front of the statue of General Wolfe.

The Shepherd Gate Clock

It was installed at the gates to the Observatory and was the first clock ever to show Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) directly to the public. The first thing one will notice about the Gate clock is that it has 24 hours on its face rather than the usual 12. That means at noon the hour hand is pointing straight down rather than straight up.

 The Harrison Clocks

Incredible technology meets beautiful craftsmanship, visit the clocks that changed the world. John Harrison's marine timekeepers are arguably the most important ever made. The Harrison clocks were able to keep time at sea, allowing sailors and mariners to determine their longitude. It took John Harrison most of his life to arrive at the design for H4, which was to be his most successful watch.

Airy Transit Circle Telescope

Discover the telescope that gave us Greenwich Mean Time. The telescope was recognized by astronomers as an instrument of great accuracy. The original reference for the prime meridian of the world remains the Airy Transit Circle in the Royal Observatory, even if the exact location of the line may move to either side of Airy's meridian.

Dropping the ball

Considered one of the earliest public time signalling devices in the world, a bright red Time Ball sits on top of Flamsteed House, one of the main buildings of the Observatory complex. The ball rises to the top of its mast each day, beginning its ascent at 12.55 PM, before dropping at exactly 1 PM.

Food and Drinks

Located inside the Astronomy Centre at the Royal Observatory, the Astronomy Café & Terrace is the perfect spot to be able to relax and enjoy a light snack before exploring Greenwich Park. The café’s outdoor terrace is a coveted spot-on sunny days.

Shopping at the Observatory

Take home a souvenir from The Royal Observatory of Greenwich. Choose from a wide range of unique items, from clocks and watches to telescopes and children’s toys, each as unique as the next.

The Observatory is fascinating and a must for anyone who is scientifically inclined and interested in history. The audio tour is superb and to visit even better read Dava Sobel's book Longitude.