Meridianen för den Akademiska Kvarten (The Real Meridian for the Academic Quarter) – Östermalm, Sweden - Atlas Obscura

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Meridianen för den Akademiska Kvarten (The Real Meridian for the Academic Quarter)

A response to the wrongly placed meridian of the same name. 

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The Academic Quarter is a long-standing tradition in academia. Originally, it was created because church bells were the only means of keeping time. It was understood that students had 15 minutes to get to class after the clock chimed a certain hour. Today, it’s still maintained in many universities to give students some time to park and find their classrooms. A tradition like that requires a monument.

In Lund, a plaque claims to mark the meridian that is exactly 1 hour and 15 minutes east of Greenwich, or 15 minutes past CET. However, a quick check on a GPS will show that this is not true at all, in fact, the sign is located nearly 23 minutes west of the proper location.

This injustice was not taken lightly by a couple of anonymous astronomers. They hung up a contesting sign at the correct location in the eastern part of the Stockholm Archipelago, on the island of Runmarö. The sign has the same text as its Lund counterpart, with the last line stating it was erected by anonymous astronomers. It does not mention the other sign, but is clearly a response. Sadly, the sign was removed in 2021, but a replacement was hung up on the Stockholm University campus. It is about 1 minute off from the exact meridian, but is that really that bad for a meridian signifying tardiness?

Update as of October 2021: The sign is gone, but it’s still possible to find the tree and the nail that once attached the sign to it.

Update as of March 2022: the sign got a new home at the Stockholm University campus.

Know Before You Go

The sign is freely accessible. You can find it on the back end of one of the pillars just outside of the metro stop.

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September 24, 2020

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