Observatories Essay example

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In nature we are given the first meridian of latitude along the equator, where the sun moves from East to West directly overhead. We can then understand points north and south of this line, allowing us to set latitude’s across the planet until they meet an end at the south or north poles. Longitude however, is a man-made construct and has roots as far back as ancient Greek mapmakers. In essence, it is an arbitrary set of lines that were standardized as a result of debate by influential powers of the 19th century. Since this time, it has been used as an unvarying tool for charts, maps and time keeping throughout the world. Prior to the implementation of a uniform meridian, many countries had a considerable need to calculate longitude, …show more content…
Perrault was primarily a physician who occasionally worked as an architect, designing the eastern façade of the Louvre as well as the Observatory. He was an established member of the Academy of Sciences, France’s premier body of modern science in the 17th century. The Academy and its members were strong proponents for the advancement of scientific knowledge in a modern sensibility. This challenged the assumed knowledge of the ancients concerning subjects ranging from science to art and architecture, and would be the basis of French and European rationalism. It is with this mindset then that Perrault began the design of the Observatory, which would house the leading astronomer for France and would demarcate the position of the Paris meridian. The meridian, established at the same time as the observatory, was used as a navigation reference for ships in France’s naval fleet. The façade of the observatory meets the north-south axis of the compass, making it perfectly aligned with the meridian that runs through it. Louis XIV promoted its construction on the basis of expanding France’s maritime power and international trade capabilities. Only four years later, The Royal Observatory at Greenwich was built in 1675. Christopher Wren, a contemporary of Perrault and likewise a supporter of the modernization of architectural and scientific theory, designed the observatory at the request of King

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