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Greenwich Mean Time – what does it all mean?

From the sun’s rays which greet us in the morning to the comfort light we switch on in the evening, we are surrounded by light wherever we go. As we delve into Autumn 2016 and the evenings are drawing in, in less than two weeks’ time on Sunday 30 October, the clocks will go back as we officially get ready for Winter 2016.

greenwich-mean-time-clock

When do the clocks go back for Winter 2016? 

The clocks will go back by one hour on Sunday 30 October 2016 at 2am. So, 2am on Sunday 30 October now becomes 1am instead. As soon as the clocks go back, we switch to Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) which means that although we get an extra one hour in bed and extra light in the mornings, we see less light in the evenings. We call Autumn/Winter 2016 Lighting Season as home owners and businesses switch on lights for longer.
bst-vs-gmt-clock-changes

 

The shortest day of the year falls on 21 December (winter solstice) where the UK will see just 7 hours 40 minutes of sunlight. Compared to the longest day in summer on 22 June (summer solstice) where we saw an impressive 17 hours of sunlight.

Why do the clocks change? 

The original pioneer of moving the clocks to adjust with light levels was British-born New Zealand entomologist and astronomer George Vincent Hudson back in 1895. He was a member of the 1907 Sub-Antarctic Islands Scientific Expedition and spent his leisure time collecting insects which led him to appreciate after-hours daylight. He presented a paper to the Wellington Philosophical Society proposing a two hour daylight saving shift.william-willett-waste-of-daylight-pamplet

William Willett was another Englishman who championed to make use of daylight during summer in 1907. The same year, Willett published a pamphlet ‘The Waste of Daylight’ in a bid to get people out of their beds earlier during the summer. Willett spent the rest of his life trying to convince people of daylight saving time right up to his death in 1915. Willett championed that the population’s happiness and health would be greatly improved by putting the clocks forward in April with the clocks going back in September.

william-willett-waste-of-daylight-pampletOne year after Willett’s death, Germany introduced British Summer Time and Britain followed on the 21 May 1916. This successful move was to make better use of the longer daylight hours over the summer.

daylight-saving-time

What does Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) mean? 

Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) is also referred to as Meridian Time and has been a time standard since 1884. It was chosen because the Prime Meridian, the 0°  line of longitude, runs through Greenwich.

longitude

How do I remember the direction the clocks go forward and back? 

spring-forward-fall-back

Remember which direction the clocks change in March and October can be a struggle. However, there is one phrase that is guaranteed to make you remember – ‘spring forward, fall back’. The clocks go forward an hour on the last weekend in March and then they go back an hour on the last weekend in October.

Remember to set your clocks to go back by one hour on Sunday 30 October at 2am.