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Gaithersburg in Montgomery County, Maryland — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
 

The Meridian Mark Pier and Geodetic Survey Monuments

Latitude Observatory Park

 
 
The Meridian Mark Pier and Geodetic Survey Monuments Marker image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, June 23, 2012
1. The Meridian Mark Pier and Geodetic Survey Monuments Marker
Inscription. The Gaithersburg International Latitude Observatory is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and has been declared a National Historic Landmark. The designation includes the Observatory, the Meridian Mark Pier, and the five monuments.

About 200 feet to the south of the Observatory is the Meridian Mark Pier (Azimuth Marker), a green metal pagoda-shaped object about four feet high by two feet square, which is used to align the Latitude Observatories Zenith Telescope. A meridian (or line of longitude) is an imaginary arc on the surface of the Earth from the North Pole to the South Pole. The position on the meridian is given by the intersecting latitude.

The Meridian Mark Pier was very carefully set and provided a reference point for the observers to align the Zenith Telescope along the meridian and ensure it had not drifted off in azimuth (the arc of the horizon that a vertical plane passing through a heavenly body makes with the meridian of the place of observation). Proper alignment of the telescope was imperative for capturing accurate readings; and the telescope could become misaligned due to changes in the temperature, instability of the mounting pier, or forces applied by the observer in operating the instrument.

In the meridian marker there are two openings and two sets of crosshairs,
The Meridian Mark Pier and Geodetic Survey Monuments Marker image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, June 23, 2012
2. The Meridian Mark Pier and Geodetic Survey Monuments Marker
or pair of lines that cross at right angles that are used to focus or aim the instrument. When the telescope is aligned from the east side of the Meridian Mark Pier it is pointed to the left, or most easterly set of crosshairs, and when it is aligned from the west side of the pier it is pointed to the right, or most westerly set of crosshairs.

Five Geodetic survey monuments are located on the property of the observatory. These disc shaped markers were installed through the years by Coast and Geodetic Survey, the predecessor of today's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the National Geodetic Survey.

The geodetic survey monuments establish exact geographic longitude and latitude positions, elevation above sea level, and the direction of the magnetic field of force. Each monument indicates the spot where a certain type of data is collected to create what surveyors refer to as a benchmark. A benchmark provides a geodetic control for mapping and accuracy in conducting surveys, a method of measuring positions and distances on Earth. There are many reasons for needing to know the exact locations and elevations on the Earth's surface, including determining where you are or where you are going, establishing property boundaries, scientific and engineering applications, and the safe passage of ships, planes and aircraft.

The Observatory
RM - 1, Geodetic Monument image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, July 15, 2012
3. RM - 1, Geodetic Monument
RM-1 monument dated 1966, is still used by NOAA for position testing of new technology in the Global Positioning System (GPS) Receiver with tracks orbital satellites.
 
Erected 2011 by the City of Gaithersburg.
 
Location. 39° 8.173′ N, 77° 11.926′ W. Marker is in Gaithersburg, Maryland, in Montgomery County. Marker is on DeSellum Avenue. Click for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 100 DeSellum Ave., Gaithersburg MD 20877, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Night at the Gaithersburg Latitude Observatory (within shouting distance of this marker); The Observatory (within shouting distance of this marker); The Chandler Wobble (within shouting distance of this marker); History and Purpose of the Gaithersburg Latitude Observatory (within shouting distance of this marker); General Edward Braddock (approx. 0.3 miles away); DeSellum Family Cemetery (approx. 0.3 miles away); Summit Hall Farm (approx. 0.4 miles away); Second Lieutenant William J. Christman, III (approx. 0.4 miles away). Click for a list of all markers in Gaithersburg.
 
Also see . . .  The Meridian Mark Pier and Geodetic Survey Monuments. (Submitted on July 16, 2012, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland.)
 
Additional keywords. Geodesy
 
Categories. Science & Medicine
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland. This page has been viewed 396 times since then and 14 times this year. Photos:   1. submitted on , by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland.   2. submitted on , by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland.   3. submitted on , by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland. • Kevin W. was the editor who published this page. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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