Cape Town's Noon Gun being fired
Accurate to the nearest millisecond, Cape Town's Noon Gun announces 12 o' clock over the Mother City with Table Mountain, covered in its famous tablecloth, in the background. This accuracy is possible since the signal that fires the gun originates from the master clock of the South African Astronomical Observatory as it has been doing since 1864. Throughout history, the Observatory supplied accurate time for the shipping community by different means; first by firing a pistol from the roof of the observatory (1833), later by dropping a timeball at the observatory (1836) and after the invention of the telegraph, timeballs at Cape Town docks as well as other harbours throughout the country (1861 onwards). The original flash pistol is still to be seen in a small museum at the Observatory and the timeball at the docks has recenetly been renovated with the trigger signal again supplied by the Observatory.
Quite soon it was also possible to electrically control the harbour tower clock at Cape Town docks, drop time balls and disks as far as East London. Port Alfred and Kimberley, send time signals to all the telegraph offices and railway services in the Cape, O.F.S. and Transvaal, supply 4 dashes and later six pips for transmission by the "Local Broadcasting Association" and time signals for the meteorological stations as far as Bulawayo and Salisbury (Harare), to name but a few.
Click here for more information and see the gun being loaded.
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