Friday, 22 October 2021

distinguished hydrography

Hosted by Washington, DC, delegates gathered from twenty-six countries for the International Meridian Conference adopted the resolution on this day in 1884 that made the Royal Observatory in Greenwich (see previously here and here) the prime “meridian to be employed as a common zero of longitude and standard of time reckoning throughout the world.The resolution was passed but not without some abstentions and serious objections—foremost being France, which until settling on the compromise term Coordinated Universal Time in 1978, did not refer to the selection as GMT but rather “Paris mean time, retarded by nine minutes and twenty-one seconds.” Contrary to popular belief, the meeting did not establish time zones.  Also making it a universal convention to begin astronomical and nautical days at the stroke of midnight, the summit coincided with the enactment of the Longitude Act of 1714 from Queen Anne, establishing a board of judges and prize monies for anyone coming up with a practical way to accurately measure whereabouts on the y-axis while at sea.