This is the view from our new studio - taken about five minutes ago. We look out over the rooftops and train lines and construction sites to Greenwich observatory on the far horizon. Just in between the observatory (the pale green dome) and the clock tower is the Greenwich time ball - marked here. I am afraid that my little phone camera does not really do it justice, but it is quite clearly visible to the eye.
The time ball was first invented in 1829 by Robert Wauchope and this one was was installed in the Greenwich observatory in 1833 by Astronomer Royal John Pond. The time was set according to the positions of the sun and stars. Everyday just fractionally before 1pm the ball rises to the top of the column, and then drops at precisely 1pm allowing mariners were able to set their chronometers by the time ball.
Of course with the advent of Radio time signals the time ball is not so vital, but here in the studio it serves the all-important role of signalling lunch time.
The image above is from a lovely blog called A Following Sea - there is a posting about the last remaining time balls around the world.