Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Time Ball

Growing up spending a lot of time on boats I learned to appreciate the art of navigation from a young age. Today with GPS its almost laughably easy to get an extremely accurate reading for your current position. The amount of technology that developed from the quest for accurate navigation is amazing. The development of the modern chronometer(clock) came from the quest to measure longitude. I will post more on the first chronometers later, but while reading up about them I came upon the time ball.

The time ball is a large wooden or metal ball located on the top of a building, often in a cities center. At a specified time each day the ball drops so that sailors can synchronize their marine chronometers. The first ball was built in Portsmouth 1829, its inventor was a captain in the Royal Navy by the name of Robert Wauchope. Soon time balls were constructed in all of the major UK ports and the idea eventually spread globally. As radio bases began to expand in the late 1920's the Time ball became obsolete and many have since been taken down. Today around 60 of them still stand.

Sydney Observatory

Quebec Citadel

Point Gellibrand, Victoria

Lyttelton, NZ

Greenwich UK

Deal, Kent UK

US Naval Observatory

1 comment:

  1. As a sailor I must say I never heard of the time ball. How cool it is to discover such things . Thanks for such a great post.