2021-04-23 - Gaithersburg Latitude Observatory

~ 3.1 mi @ ~18.4 min/mi

"... the oldest scientific agency in our federal government ..." says a sign at the original Latitude Observatory, describing the National Geodetic Survey founded more than 200 years ago. Its job: to maintain "... a consistent coordinate system that defines latitude, longitude, height, scale, gravity, and orientation throughout the United States". What a mission – to help us all know where we are!

Two little white buildings near Gaithersburg High School are what remains of a network of half a dozen telescopes, set up in 1899 around the world at 38°06' North latitude to precisely measure the wobble of the Earth's axis. (Yes, Virginia, the North Pole wanders about 30 feet or so.) 🤖 walks the observatory grounds, then undertakes a quick survey of the neighborhood. He squeezes through a chained-and-padlocked gate and discovers Christman Park, a greenspace honoring Vietnam War deaths. A less-sketchy cut-through leads to an empty water playground and busy Bohrer Park. Geese honk and feed in a pond.

(trackfile) - ^z - 2021-05-27