Royal Observatory at Greenwich working for first time since London smog shut down telescopes 60 years ago

Jun 26, 2018

By Sarah Knapton

The Royal Observatory at Greenwich has been pivotal to astronomy and navigation since the beginning of time. Well, international standard time at least. But what few people realize is that the observatory has not actually observed anything for more than half a century.

Astronomers were forced to abandon their work in the 1950s as London smogs grew so bad that they could no longer see the stars through their telescopes.

As the railways expanded nearby, the rumble of trains also made it impossible to take accurate readings with sensitive instruments, while the ever-growing capital brought increasingly dazzling light pollution.

Now, after more than 60 years a new telescope has been installed at Greenwich to restore its status as a working observatory once again. Not only is London’s air cleaner now, but modern telescope filters can tune out the pollution to hone in on the stars, planets, nebulae and even galaxies.

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