Royal Observatory at Greenwich Revived 60 Years After London Smog Forced It To Close

Royal Observatory at Greenwich Revived 60 Years After London Smog Forced It To Close

The Royal Observatory at Greenwich has been an essential asset for astronomy and navigation in London, but the so-called London smog shut it down back in the 1950s. Now, 60 years later the observatory revived and restarted its operations.

In the 1950s, the industrialization of London and the massive growth of railways caused a dense smog that covered England’s capital city and made it impossible for astronomers to see anything with their instruments. Thus, all the London-based observatories shut down their operations. Fortunately, now, 60 years from then, the Royal Observatory at Greenwich reopened its gates.

Now, the skies are clearer over London, and the smog is not anymore do dense, but the central help for reviving the Greenwich Observatory came from a new high-end telescope that replaced the old one. The new telescopes are made with specific filtration systems that can eliminate the pollution from the equation and clear the path to see stars, planets, and even distant galaxies.

Royal Observatory at Greenwich revived 60 Years after London smog forced it to close

“The observatory really started to wind down in 1948 because Greenwich had been expanding, and Greenwich Power Station was belching out smoke, so the telescopes were becoming useless,” said Dr. Louise Devoy, the Curator of Royal Observatory Greenwich.

Also, according to Dr. Devoy, “the railways and iron-framed buildings interfered with the signals, and the vibrations from the trains made impossible” magnetic and meteorological readings which were also part of the regular activity at the Royal Observatory at Greenwich.

Founded by Charles II in Greenwich in 1675 to enhance the sea navigation by mapping the stars on the skies, the Royal Observatory ended its activity in 1957 due to the dense London smog.

In 2017, however, the Royal Museum Greenwich commenced a fundraising campaign to equip the observatory with a new telescope. Luckily, the campaign was successful in raising about 150,000 GBP. Accordingly, now, Royale Observatory at Greenwich revived 60 years after London smog forced it to close its gates.


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