Observations

The time ball drops again

Geoff raising the time ball_Nick Lomb

Geoff raising the time ball, photo Nick Lomb

Sydney Observatory’s time ball was dropped again at 1 pm today after essential repairs lasting six months. The great confusion and turmoil in the City of Sydney during that period with people not knowing when to take their lunch hour is over. Once again they can look for the large yellow ball on top of the Observatory to drop each day at 1 pm signalling that now is the time to eat.

Sydney Observatory time ball just before 1 pm

The Sydney Observatory time ball just before 1 pm

Of course the original purpose of the time ball was to provide the time to ships in Sydney Harbour. The ball was first dropped on 5 June 1858 and has been dropped regularly ever since. Next year in June will be the 150th anniversary of the beginnings of the Observatory and major celebrations are being planned.

Geoff dropping the time ball_Nick Lomb

Geoff releasing the time ball mechanism exactly at 1 pm, photo Nick Lomb

4 responses to “The time ball drops again

  • Hello Louise. Thanks for your nice comments. The 150th anniversary of the time ball will be celebrated with a big public weekend event on 7 & 8 June. I hope you will come along to watch the ball drop on one of those days. The Observatory is looking towards dropping the time ball for the next 150 years!

  • I love these photos. It’s wonderful to see the mechanics of the time-ball process – and the smiling face of a proud operator! May the time-ball live forever!

  • Hello unknown. The time ball gives a visual indication of the correct time by being raised and then dropping down its post at a predetermined time. This was important for ships before radio as there was no other way of obtaining accurate time.

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