The International Meridian Conference
Washington DC, USA - October 1884
Why is Greenwich the "centre of time and space"?
Why does the Prime Meridian (Zero Longitude) pass through Greenwich?
It dates back to October 1884. At the behest of the President of the United
States of America 41 delegates from 25 nations met in Washington, DC, USA for
the International Meridian Conference.
At the Conference the following important principles were established:
It was desirable to adopt a single world meridian to replace the numerous
ones already in existence.
The Meridian passing through the principal Transit Instrument at the
Observatory at Greenwich was to be the 'initial meridian'.
That all longitude would be calculated both east and west from this
meridian up to 180°.
All countries would adopt a universal day.
The universal day would be a Mean Solar Day, beginning at the Mean
Midnight at Greenwich and counted on a 24 hour clock.
That nautical and astronomical days everywhere would begin at mean
All technical studies to regulate and extend the application of the
decimal system to the division of time and space would be supported.
Resolution 2, fixing the Meridian at Greenwich was passed 22-1
(San Domingo voted against), France & Brazil abstained.
The National Maritime Museum have kindly given us extracts
from the Conference minutes
A list of the Nations attending and their delegates is
Full text of the seven Final Act Resolutions and voting is
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