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Censored circle, USA
|Censored circle, Washington DC |
Suggested by: Unknown
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Information about Censored circle
The United States Naval Observatory (USNO) is one of the oldest scientific agencies in the United States. Located in Northwest Washington, D.C., it is one of the very few observatories located in an urban area; when it was initially constructed, it was far from the light pollution generated by the then-smaller city center.
Established in 1830 as the Depot of Charts and Instruments, it was made into a national observatory in 1842 via a federal law. James Melville Gilliss was put in charge of the project
The observatory's primary mission was to care for the United States Navy's chronometers, charts, and other navigational equipment. It calibrated ships' chronometers by timing the transit of stars across the meridian. Initially located downtown in Foggy Bottom (near the Kennedy Center), the observatory was moved to its present location in 1893, atop Observatory Hill overlooking Massachusetts Avenue, amidst perfectly circular grounds.
The first superintendent was Navy Commander Matthew Fontaine Maury. Maury had the world's first vulcanized time ball, created to his specifications by Charles Goodyear for the U.S. Observatory. It was the first timeball in the United States, and the 12th in the world. Maury kept accurate time by the stars and planets. When the timeball was dropped, a flag was mechanically raised letting all ships and civilians know the exact time. Thus, time was kept not only for Washington, D.C., but, through the use of the telegraph, also for every state in the Union. Time was also "sold" to the railroads and was used in conjunction with Railroad chronometers to schedule American rail transport. Early in the 20th century, the Arlington Time Signal broadcast this service to wireless receivers.
The names National Observatory and Naval Observatory were both used for 10 years, until a ruling was passed to use only the term Navy Observatory. Former President John Quincy Adams had intended for it to be called the National Observatory. John Quincy Adams spent many nights at the observatory with Maury, watching and charting the stars, because it had always been one of Adams' hobbies to study the stars - another reason he passed the bill for the creation of a national observatory just before his leaving presidential office.
Today, as in the past, the modern United States Naval Observatory continues to be a major authority in the areas of time-keeping and celestial observation. In collaboration with the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, it determines the timing and astronomical data required for accurate navigation and fundamental astronomy, and distributes this information in the Astronomical Almanac. Perhaps it is best known to the general public for its highly accurate ensemble of atomic clocks and its year 2000 Timeball replacement.
Since 1974, Number One Observatory Circle, a house situated in the grounds of the observatory (formerly the residence of its superintendent), has been the official residence of the Vice President of the United States.
As of September 2006, the aerial view of the site is pixelated in Google Earth and Google Maps, while aerial views of the rest of Washington can be seen in high resolution. In the beta Yahoo maps service it is not (yet?) pixelated.
This information was provided by Wikipedia under the GNU license. Read more about this placemark on Wikipedia.
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