Wednesday, 1 August 2007

Royal Maritme Museum Greenwich August 1

On Wednesday, Aug. 1 we took a boat ride down to Greenwich to visit the National Maritime Museum. The museum as expected houses a collection dedicated to Britain's Maritime History and Naval Heritage. It was established by the National Maritime act in 1934 with a large donation from Sir James Caird a wealthy shipowner and a member of the Society for Nautical Research. The museum was finally opened in 1937 by King George VI. Our hosts again had items from the collection for us to view and touch. One I found particularly fascinating was a ship's daily log which recorded the capture and execution of "Blackbeard the Pirate", way cool. I'm a big Pirate fan or maybe just a Johnny Depp fan but either way love the outfit ;-) !! Sorry, where was I, oh yeah the museum.

Another really interesting and fantastic part of the collection are pictures of the actual rescue from the Titanic. I don't recall the exact story, but one someone responding to the rescue attempts just happen to have a camera so there are these amazing photos of men, women and small children in the life boats. Another special treat!!.

We also had the opportunity to visit the Royal Observatory on our own. The Greenwich Royal Observatory was established by King Charles II in 1675 to study astronomy and fix the problem of longitude. And who else but Christopher Wren was the architect. In order for ships to navigate they have to be able to know the latitude and longitude. Latitude apparently is easy enough to measure by the height of the sun but longitude was not so easy hence the need for the observatory. The first royal astronomer was John Flamsteed who lived in the four rooms of the observatory with his family.

The longitude problem was solved by a succession of clocks which can be viewed at the observatory made by John Harrison that would not be affected by the movement of the ship and be able to tell the time accurately even on a ship which would then be compared to the local time in Greenwich which would give the longitude. Anyway, that was my understanding of the whole process. The clocks were interesting, but I was more excited about having my picture taken at the Prime Meridian see photo below. The line was really long, so I cheated and stood behind the marker and was still able to have one foot in each hemisphere at the same time, wow!!

Boat ride home

We were on our own as far as getting back to the dorms, so Kristin and I chose to take the ferry back. Luckily, we made the last ferry. The boat ride was very relaxing. We sat on top in the open so it provided a fabulous view and more picture opportunities.

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