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The Greenwich Meridian

Unlike the parallels of latitude, which are defined by the rotational axis of the Earth (the poles being 90 and the Equator, 0), the prime meridian is arbitrary, and multiple meridians have been used through history as the prime meridians of various mapmaking systems (including four different Greenwich meridians). The Greenwich Meridian established by Sir George Airy in 1851 was agreed upon as the international standard in October 1884. The zero meridian used by the Ordnance Survey is about six meters to the west of the line marked at Greenwich. The Greenwich Meridian is now marked at night by a laser beam emitted from the observatory.