The Royal Observatory in Greenwich, England, installed the world's first time ball in 1833. Time balls were used by navigators for checking chronometers for sea navigation. (See story above.) American time balls fell at noon. But the observatory's ball dropped at 1 p.m. Why? The British National Maritime Museum says astronomers were "too busy observing the sun transiting the meridian at noon and setting their clocks." The observatory's present ball dates to 1919.
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