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Stars and time at Greenwich


Panorama showing the Time and Space Project at Greenwich
Image: Allies and Morrison Architects

I like to think James Bradley was the kind of boy who would have liked the new planetarium at Greenwich. When he was ill with smallpox, his uncle, an astronomer, nursed him, and young Bradley survived and became fascinated with stars. He saw and explained the “aberration” of starlight, and around 1729 calculated how fast sunlight travels to earth. (More details in the Timeline). His insights are one of the reasons we have planetariums.

With close to one million visits being made to the Royal Observatory, Greenwich, and public demand increasing, the Observatory decided to attempt a spectacular development that would feature new galleries about modern astronomy and time, the Lloyds Register Education Centre, and a planetarium.


Side-section of the new Peter Harrison Planetarium
Image: Allies and Morrison Architects

“Through the avenue of trees, partially pushed into the ground, stands a bronze-coated cone, enriched by what looks like a patina of age, topped with a lens of reflective glass” (Telegraph) This is the new Peter Harrison Planetarium.

Public, corporate, and private sources contributed £15 million to the project, which is due to open in spring 2007. I do think James Bradley would be pleased.